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International Relations, PUBLICATIONS

Serbia’s role in dealing with the migration crisis

Written by Velina Lilyanova,

Serbia's role in the migration crisis

© Hugh O’Neill / Fotolia.

In 2015, the Western Balkans experienced an unprecedented movement of migrants and refugees headed towards the EU. This created a wider European challenge affecting both EU Member States and candidate countries located along their route, particularly Serbia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

Serbia’s role has mainly been that of transit country; nevertheless, the migration flows have placed a humanitarian and financial strain on its asylum system. In a dynamic situation, lacking a coordinated EU approach  countries have resorted to unilateral actions (such as introducing border controls and erecting fences) and tensions with neighbours have spiked. Serbia has thus had to adopt short-term measures to respond as best as it can. Following the EU-Turkey deal in March 2016, asylum applications in Serbia increased, creating an additional burden. Despite Serbia’s less advanced asylum system, limited institutional and accommodation capacity and reported cases of human rights abuses, its open borders policy, political discourse and overall handling of the crisis have largely been considered positive.

In the context of this crisis, Serbia, an EU candidate country since 2012, has acted as an EU partner committed to cooperation and regional stability. The EU has been providing it with technical, humanitarian and financial support, and has commended its positive approach. In July 2016, negotiations on Chapter 24 (which includes asylum and migration) were opened. In the common negotiating position, the EU defined Serbia as a key partner in finding a sustainable solution to the migrant crisis. To meet EU standards in the context of its accession talks and prepare adequately for future challenges, Serbia has to carry out migration and asylum-related reforms and increase its reception capacity. The challenge for the EU is to forge a coordinated approach focused on longer-term goals, taking into account the strategic importance of the region’s stability and security, crucial for the EU’s own.

Read the complete Briefing on ‘Serbia’s role in dealing with the migration crisis‘.

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The content of all documents (and articles) contained in this blog is the sole responsibility of the author and any opinions expressed therein do not necessarily represent the official position of the European Parliament. It is addressed to the Members and staff of the EP for their parliamentary work. Reproduction and translation for non-commercial purposes are authorised, provided the source is acknowledged and the European Parliament is given prior notice and sent a copy. Copyright © European Union, 2014. All rights reserved

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