History in 2010: border fence in Albania. Photo: unknown
History in 2010: border fence in Albania. Photo: unknown

Europe's Border revolution

One of the best introductions to this is the work of Ruben Zaiotti. In 2011 he published his book on Cultures of Border Control: Schengen and the Evolution of European Frontiers. He also wrote an essay on "The Italo-French Row over Schengen and the Lessons of Past 'Crises' for the Future of Border Free Europe" (June 2011).


Advocacy Handbook

PASOS, the Policy Association for an Open Society, which brings together 55 independent think-tanks in Central and Eastern Europe, has followed the visa liberalisation processes in the Western Balkans and in the EU’s Eastern Partner countries. One of its most recent publications is The Road to an Open Europe, An Advocacy Handbook for Civil Society: Understanding and Influencing EU Policymaking in the Area of Migration and Visa Policies (April 2012).

One of the PASOS current programmes is "Paving the Road towards Visa-free Travel between the Eastern Partnership countries and the EU". The goal of the project is to create a tipping-point for the achievement of visa-free relations between the EaP countries and the Schengen area, and in the process to upgrade the legal and policy processes in the EaP countries and promote closer integration and people-to-people contacts. A "No Visa" website that includes country-specific versions of the site in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine, was launched in 2011. It offers information about the project, news and developments relating to visa liberalisation in the EaP countries, and downloads of publications and other research documents. The programme is run in cooperation with the Local Government and Public Service Reform Initiative (LGI) of the Open Society Foundations.

Earlier, PASOS looked at the visa liberalisation process in the Western Balkans, monitoring their efforts to qualify for visa-free travel in 2008 and 2009. One of the publications, by PASOS and the European Institute Bulgaria, was Could EU visa-free travel become a key incentive for Western Balkans countries to establish better democratic institutions and the rule of law?, Policy Brief, 5 March 2009.


Western Balkans 

An increasing number of NGOs in the Western Balkans are monitoring the efforts of their governments to implement the visa roadmaps and qualify for visa-free travel. They have acquired expertise and play a crucial role in promoting reforms in their countries.

Some are also taking a hard look at the visa facilitation agreements.

There are also regional projects, an area where PASOS has been a leader:

This essay examines the historical context and the political dynamics that resulted in the removal of visa restrictions for all Western Balkans countries except Kosovo:

Examining the levels of crime in the Balkans in 2008, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime came to the surprising conclusion that most of the region is safer than Western Europe with regard to conventional crime, and that organised crime activity is diminishing. UNODC also published two relevant reports in 2010, on drugs and on organised crime, which take the respective situation in Western Balkans countries into account.

The Balkan Monitor of Gallup, one of the world's leading polling institutes, analysed attitudes towards migration in the Western Balkans in 2006 and 2008. The data shows that, unlike widely believed, relatively few people have concrete plans to leave their home countries.

Alina Mungiu-Pippidi, president of the Romania's largest think-tank SAR (Romanian Academic Society), examined in 2005 how many people from the Balkans would be willing to emigrate to the EU:


Asylum seekers and visa-free travel

After the visa requirement for Serbia and Macedonia was lifted on 19 December 2009, applications for asylum from nationals of these countries in some Western European countries increased considerably.

EU Schengen

The Secretariat of the EU Council publishes annually detailed statistical information about Schengen visa applications, approvals and denials.

A number of foundations and NGOs are trying to work against the isolation of the citizens of the Western Balkans, in particular the young generation. In collaboration with the Balkan Trust for Democracy, the Robert Bosch Stiftung annually organises a one-month trip in Europe for several hundred students from the Western Balkans, helping them to get a visa and the mandatory health insurance, and providing them with train tickets and some pocket money.


Please let us know if you think that other core texts and essential reading should be added here, by contacting Alexandra Stiglmayer, ESI Senior Analyst in Brussels.

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