The Western Balkans: Frontline of the migrant crisis (European Parliament)

In the context of the current crisis, the Western Balkans is a busy migrant route. It is necessary to work more closely with this region and to come up with a coordinated approach to the crisis.

The Briefing addresses the following aspects:

  1. The roots of the migrant crisis: violence (intense armed conflicts in the Middle East and Africa), humanitarian emergencies, dysfunctional political systems, decreasing international aid and globalisation in general are triggers that push more and more people to cross borders.
  2. The Western Balkan route: the Western Balkan route was the busiest migratory route to Europe in 2015, with challenges on the road including inter lia new fences along borders and varied reactions by affected countries.
  3. What the Western Balkan countries are doing: Western Balkan countries face the challenge of consistently implementing the relevant legislation, building capacity for receiving migrants and complying with international standards.
  4. Reaction to the crisis: EU member States and the Western Balkans: some States have reintroduced internal EU borders and tightened controls, governments have resorted to ad hoc policies with a string focus on security.
  5. European Union response: implications for the Western Balkans: the EU has been searching for a tailored response to the migration crisis and more efficient ways to address this challenge in a coordinated manner, gathering a series of high-level meetings and conferences and assisting Member States most affected by the influx, working also with third countries, especially Turkey and the Western Balkans.
  6. Outlook: the Commission points out that around 3 million persons may arrive in the EU in the period between 2015 and 2017 and concerns are raised on the implications on national politics, public attitudes, divisions with the EU and its credibility. The external dimension of the EU agenda includes addressing the long-term consequences for sending and transit countries as well as finding ways to work more closely with the Western Balkans by drafting a common approach to the crisis in the future.

This Briefing was elaborated by the European Parliamentary Research Service. Author: Velina Lilyanova

Publication Date:
ma 01 feb 2016