On 5 May 2021, the plenary Assembly of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) has discussed and approved the opinion on the Enlargement Package 2020 presented by the AIE President Nikola Dobroslavić in his quality of CoR Rapporteur and Chair of the CoR’s Working Group for the Western Balkans.

The opinion on EU Enlargement Package, which President Dobroslavić was responsible for, highlights some key points of the Enlargement process, stressing the importance to support all Western Balkan countries for their EU accession and underling at the same time the importance to fulfill the membership criteria by the candidate countries.

The document provides concrete political messages, policy recommendations and country-specific observations, pointing out what should be the role of local and regional authorities in the enlargement process and in implementing the Economic and Investment Plan. The rule of law, fundamental rights and media activity are also considered as essential conditions to progress in the enlargement process of candidate and potential candidate countries.

The AIE Secretary General, Francesco Cocco comments: It is clear that the enlargement process to the Western Balkans is proceeding now with some difficulties. The EU has lost the initial momentum to fully integrate these countries. It is sad to observe that in the Joint Declaration on the Future of Europe, signed by the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Layen, the President of the European Parliament David Sassoli and Antonio Costa for the European Council, there are no traces and words on the enlargement process, nevertheless indications on how to integrate the Western Balkan countries. The EU enlargement is totally absent in this important document that wants to outline the future of Europe. So local and regional politicians, with their participation in the Committee of Regions, must stimulate the other EU institutions. A change of pace is urgently needed, in parallel with the adaptation process of the candidate countries. For all these reasons the approved opinion of Dobroslavić is extremely important.

The draft opinion can be consulted on CoR website