For EU integration to be successful in time a bottom-up approach is required for the region. If Europe strives to be close to its future citizen, then it has to go local! A functional bottom-up approach is built on an effective coordination and cooperation between local and central government level (Strategic Partnership for Sustainable and Inclusive Development).

The promotion of LOCAL DEMOCRACY is key to contribute to reconciliation and stabilisation in the region and the preparation of EU integration of the Western Balkans. Since Local Governments are both policy makers and service providers, a more inclusive consultation process at all stages on planning and decision-making on issues affecting Local Governments is required. NALAS strongly advocates to include the local government dimension in strategic and operational planning for EU Enlargement.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT ASSOCIATIONS should be considered as strategic interlocutors in multi-stakeholder dialogues on issues related to EU integration and reform processes. LGAs should be considered as strategic partners since they are powerful knowledge hubs and promotors of EU integration at local level.

These are only part of the key messages of NALAS’ statement, presented by Mr. Joachim Roth, NALAS EU Project Officer, as a contribution to process of formulating the Committee of the Regions’ (CoR) opinion entitled “Enlargement: Inclusion of Western Balkans Local and Regional Authorities in the EU’s Macro-Regional, Cross-Border and Other Transnational Cooperation Initiatives”.

The CoR meeting took place on 6 February 2018, in Brussels, almost in parallel to the meeting in Strasbourg were the EU Commission adopted and presented the strategy for “A credible enlargement perspective for and enhanced EU engagement with the Western Balkans”.

Around 90 participants from CoR, EU Commission and diplomatic representations took part in the meeting. As a next step, CoR’s Commission for Citizenship, Governance, Institutional and External Affairs (CIVEX Commission) will draft an opinion and present it beggining of March 2018.