15 November 2012
Brussels ESI briefs young promising politicians from the Western Balkans
Brussels. Photo: flickr/James.Stringer
Brussels. Photo: flickr/James.Stringer

On 15 November 2012, ESI Senior Analyst Alexandra Stiglmayer discussed with young promising politicians from the Western Balkans the situation with regard to EU enlargement and the new increase in asylum seekers from the region following visa liberalisation in 2009/2010. The political activists had been invited by the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung to a one-week programme in Brussels. Alexandra emphasised that enlargement continued, albeit not very fast, and discussed the negative effects that a suspension of visa liberalisation, which has been threatened by some EU politicians, would have. This would decrease support for the EU and EU reforms in the Western Balkan countries, setting back the enlargement process. She said the solution lies in the targeted EU member states. They must shorten the asylum procedure in order to prevent misuse. She also said that it would be useful to declare countries that have completed a formal visa liberalisation process "countries of safe origin". She emphasised that only 2 percent of the asylum seekers from the Western Balkans are granted international protection in the EU. The overwhelming majority belongs to marginalised groups and submits asylum claims to escape poverty in the Western Balkans for a few months.

Next to Alexandra, Rosa Balfour from the European Policy Centre talked to the young politicians.

More information is available on ESI's enlargement portal and its web pages on the Schengen White List Project

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