On 10 November 2015 the European Commission has adopted the Communication entitled "EU Enlargement Strategy". As part of the 2015 "Enlargement package" and as an integral part of the Communication, in a set of annual reports, the European Commission has assessed where the countries of the Western Balkans and Turkey stand in preparing to meet EU membership requirements, and sets out what needs to be done to address the remaining challenges.
The main points of the REX/453 EU Enlargement Strategy opinion are:
- It supports the particular emphasis placed by the Commission on the fundamentals in the accession process, with the need for enlargement countries to prioritise reforms in the rule of law, fundamental rights, functioning of democratic institutions (including election system reform and public administration reform), economic development and strengthening competitiveness.
- It strongly encourages the Commission to retain the quality of participatory democracy as one of the core political criteria to be assessed. Decisive action should be further undertaken to ensure systemic work to build effective, fully operational institutions with meaningful participation by civil society organisations (CSOs).
- It welcomes the Commission's clear message that an empowered civil society is a crucial component of any democratic system and acknowledges its political support for creating a much more supportive and enabling environment for civil society, including meaningful consultation process with civil society in policy-making.
- It expresses the need that the Commission, the Council and the European Parliament should intensify their communication efforts to explain the benefits and challenges of enlargement policy to European citizens - the social partner and other civil society organisations should be a close partner and conveyor of messages in this process.