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New EU plan to reduce the number of migrants across the Balkans

After focusing recent weeks on migration across the Mediterranean, the European Commission now wants to intensify measures against the growing migratory pressure across the Western Balkans.

– Our ambition with this plan is to reduce the number [migranter]says Vice-President of the European Union Commission Margaritis Schinas.

The European Union is currently experiencing this The largest number of asylum applications Since 2016, the greatest pressure has been through the so-called Western Balkans route. In October, 22,300 people were registered as having reached the EU via this route, almost three times the number compared to last year.

To counter the growing pressure, the European Commission proposed on Monday Action Plan With 20 concrete commitments to the Western Balkans route. The action plan comes a day before leaders of the European Union and Western Balkan countries meet at a summit in the Albanian capital, Tirana.

– Our ambition with this plan is to reduce the number [migranter]European Commission Vice President Margaritis Schinas said when presenting the proposal on Monday.

Border controls have been moved outside the EU

Among other things, the Commission wants to strengthen border controls along the entire migration route – not only at the EU’s external borders, but also to increase controls between the Balkan countries.

When I say border control, I mean every border. Margaritis Schinas said, regardless of whether it is an EU border or a border between two Western Balkan countries, we need a strong EU presence.

UNHCR also wants to ensure speedy asylum procedures and support reception capacity in the Western Balkans. They also want to step up the fight against people smugglers, and here is the idea that the EU’s police authority, Europol, should have a stronger role.

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UNHCR also wants to ensure that third countries comply with agreements to take back their nationals who have entered the EU and are not entitled to asylum.

fill the gaps

Finally, the Action Plan states that Western Balkan countries must adapt their visa policies to third countries to ensure that the visa freedom that largely exists between the EU and the Western Balkan countries is not abused.

– Margaritis Schinas said that it is unacceptable that some Western Balkan countries have visa agreements with third countries that then exploit loopholes for illegal access to the EU.

Monday’s proposal will now be discussed when EU immigration ministers meet in Brussels on Thursday. Ministers called for earlier An action plan for the Western Balkans route, the latest after the European Commission presented this plan recently Action Plan for the Central Mediterranean Road.