On 17 June 2024 representatives from the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR) and NALAS met in Brussels with Holger Schroeder, Head of Unit of DG NEAR D.5 in charge of Regional Cooperation.

The exchange focused on the role of local and regional authorities in the frame of the EU accession process and in joint activities of the visiting parties complementary to the national reform agendas of Western Balkans EU candidate countries supported by the EU.

The visiting parties stressed their conviction that enhanced support for local authorities in the adoption and implementation of the necessary political, institutional, legal, administrative, social and economic reforms is indispensable in order to accelerate the EU accession process, to make it sustainable and inclusive, and to maintain and strengthen citizens’ support for EU membership in the Western Balkans.

As follow up of the invitation to present a concerted and brief strategic outline of the concept based on the context discussed, the Congress, CEMR and NALAS drafted a concept note on “The indispensable role of local and regional authorities in the EU accession process of the Western Balkans” and shared the rationale with DG NEAR.

The proposed interventions are based on the determination of the Congress, NALAS and CEMR to work together on joint priority areas aiming at supporting national, local and regional authorities of the Western Balkans in the process of EU accession, while improving compliance with the European standards in local self-governance.