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

About us
Photo credits
Alan Grant is an Irish photographer who travelled extensively in the Balkans and other countries and regions of the world. Thanks to him, ESI is able to show fascinating pictures of the Balkans: the facades of Tirana, the painted mosques of Travnik, the fabulous old houses of Plovdiv and the spectacular blue of water - dark in the Bay of Kotor, emerald in the river valleys of Bosnia, deep blue in Ohrid, twinkling in the Aegean Sea and on the Bosporus.

You can find out more about Alan Grant on his websites:
Jonathan Lewis lives between London and Istanbul. He moved to London and spent many years studying photography and now specialises in photojournalism, documentary photography and commercial work for a wide variety of private and commercial clients in the UK, Europe and Turkey. His work has appeared in a number of magazines and publications and is used on the ESI website as well.

You can find out more about Jonathan Lewis on his website www.jonathanlewisphoto.com