CoR opinion on the 2014 Enlargement Package underlines the fundamental role of local and regional representatives in efforts towards decentralisation and regionalisation in Montenegro, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Turkey and Iceland. It calls for good neighbourly relations and notes that democratic institutions and the respect for fundamental rights and the rule of law must remain central elements of enlargement policy. Referring to the proposed five year consolidation period, Franz Schausberger stresses that it must be understood as a phase of intense preparation and adoption of the policies required to meet the criteria for EU membership rather than a standstill in enlargement policy. However, he welcomes the launch of the new Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance, which makes EUR 11.7 billion available for the period 2014-2020 to support enlargement countries in their preparations for accession as well as regional and cross-border cooperation. The opinion includes specific remarks concerning each of the enlargement countries. Looking to future enlargement reports, the rapporteur recommends the Commission to go into greater detail about the situation of regional and local self-government pointing to the need for further regionalising and decentralising reform in the enlargement countries.

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