Sunday

21st Apr 2019

Governments demand action on Balkan asylum claims

  • Member states are protesting the rise in bogus asylum claims (Photo: wfbakker2)

Take control of asylum applications or risk losing the right for citizens to visit the EU without a visa EU justice and home affairs ministers warned Balkan countries on Thursday (25 October).

But despite tough talk from member states and the commission in advance of the meeting, ministers did not make a snap decision on visa-free travel.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

They said the issue would be discussed at the next ministerial forum between ministers from the EU and the Western Balkans on 5-6 November in the Albanian capital Tirana.

The move comes as member states negotiate with MEPs on proposed revisions to the rules on visa-free travel, which allow people to stay in an EU country for up to three months without a visa.

The proposal includes a set of safeguard clauses which allow visa requirements to be re-imposed if there is a 50 percent spike in asylum applicants over a six-month period.

Countries want to tighten the rules further. Despite being tabled nearly eighteen months ago, negotiations between ministers and MEPs only began in January, with the parliament taking a more lenient stance than most governments.

Last week, the European Commission said that there had been a sharp rise in unfounded asylum claims from Serbia and Macedonia, both of which are candidates countries for EU membership.

Germany and France are leading a group of six EU countries demanding the immediate reintroduction of visa requirements to travel.

Speaking after the meeting with ministers, EU justice commissioner, Cecilia Malmstrom called on the Balkan region countries to maintain the integrity of their borders.

Pointing to data released last week by the commission showing a near 75 percent increase in the number of claims for asylum seeker status, Malmstrom said that it was "time for the Balkan states to address this."

"There are very serious concerns," she added.

In an attempt to defuse the situation, Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic last week pledged that he would compensate member states for the costs of treating bogus asylum claims.

EU commission plans bolstering rule of law toolbox

As EU concerns over rule of law in some member states grow, the commission opens a debate on tools to discipline unruly member states. The EU executive has launched a new probe against Poland, and put Romania on the spot.

Opinion

Catalan independence trial is widening Spain's divides

What is really needed is not the theatre of a rebellion trial, but a forensic examination of whether public funds were misused, and a process of dialogue and negotiation on how the Catalan peoples' right to self-determination can be satisfied.

Orban hosts Weber in Budapest for EPP showdown

The future of the Viktor Orban's Fidesz party inside the European Parliament's centre-right EPP political group hangs in the balance. On Tuesday, Orban and EPP chief Manfred Weber meet in Budapest in a final effort to iron out differences.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  2. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  3. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  4. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  9. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  10. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan

Latest News

  1. Romania drafts EU code on NGO migrant rescues
  2. Bulgaria, Hungary, and Malta shamed on press unfreedom
  3. EU drafts $20bn US sanctions list in aviation dispute
  4. Brunei defends stoning to death of gay men in EU letter
  5. US Democrats side with Ireland on Brexit
  6. Wifi or 5G to connect EU cars? MEPs weigh in
  7. How Brexit may harm the new EU parliament
  8. EU parliament backs whistleblower law

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us