The 128th plenary session of the Committee of the Regions adopts in March 2018, the opinion “Enlargement: Inclusion of Western Balkans Local and Regional Authorities in the EU’s Macro-regional, Cross-border and other Transnational Cooperation Initiatives”. The rapporteur is Franz Schausberger, as representative of the Province of Salzburg at the Committee of the Regions.

Mr. Schausberger notes with concern that in most Balkan countries public administration at all levels of government, particularly local self-government, remains weak, with limited administrative capacity, a high degree of politicisation and corruption, a lack of transparency and few financial resources and stresses that the functioning of democratic institutions should be strengthened at regional and local level in particular. At the same time, the rapporteur believes that regional cooperation and good neighbourly relations between the countries of the Western Balkans are key prerequisites for European progress and new economic opportunities. Indeed, he stresses that macro-regional strategies (MRSs) and other EU instruments for cross-border cooperation such as EGTCs and Interreg programmes are essential building blocks for the future of the EU, noting that the EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region (EUSAIR) can provide a major opportunity for the whole region.

The Plenary of the CoR accepted an amendment proposed by Mr. Nikola Dobroslavić, President of the Adriatic Ionian Euroregion and Prefect of Dubrovnik-Neretva County, in point 20 of the opinion.

In the document is now highlighted the importance of the activities and initiatives undertaken by local and regional associations and organisations, such as the Adriatic-Ionian Euroregion (AIE), in promoting the cooperation and the exchanging of experiences in Western Balkan countries.

Download the Opinion here: