The concretization of an increased commitment of the EC in the Balkans. The visit of the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen this Thursday in Tirana will be followed by the visit of two commissioners with key portfolios to the European executive on November 3 in Tirana.
It is about the commissioner for justice, Didier Reynders, who will meet with the minister of justice, Ulsi Manja, and the commissioner for internal affairs, Ylva Johansson, who will participate in the EU-Balkan ministerial forum for justice and internal affairs.
Meanwhile, the Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement, Oliver Varhelyi, is expected to present on the same date (November 3) in Berlin concrete proposals for the supply of gas to the Balkan region from third countries such as Egypt, as well as proposals in terms of renewable energies. and energy security.
The European Commission is thus concretizing an increased commitment to the expansion policy with the Western Balkan region in the geo-political context of Russia’s aggression in Ukraine.
Ylva Johansson will put emphasis on stopping migrants crossing from the Western Balkans
The issue of stopping migrants crossing from the Western Balkans is a significant problem for the European Union. This is because member states such as Austria have faced the sudden arrival of thousands of migrants these months, most of whom have passed through the territory of Serbia.
For this reason, the commissioner for internal affairs, Ylva Johansson, as well as the Czech president of the European Union have warned that if quick and adapted measures are not taken, the activation of the mechanization of visa suspension (free movement in Schengen) can be foreseen. for countries that benefit from visa liberalization, such as Serbia. A warning that is also valid for other countries in the region. This is the third week in a row that the commissioner meets with the interior ministers of the region.
New legal framework to stop illegal migration from the BalkansWhat Commissioner Johansson is expected to announce is the new legal framework for the fight against illegal migration that passes through the Western Balkans route and financial support in this direction. The European Commission approved this week a recommendation to the Council of the European Union for the improvement of the agreements of FRONTEX, the European border and coast guard agency, with the countries of the Western Balkan region.
In this recommendation, the Commission asks the Council of Ministers for authorization to open negotiations regarding the improvement of the status of the agreement on Frontex between the EU on the one hand and Albania, Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina on the other. The new legal framework will first make it possible for Frontex troops to be deployed at the EU border with third countries, as well as at borders with third countries.
Secondly, they will exercise executive powers, which did not exist with the agreements so far.
For the commissioner for internal affairs, Ylva Johansson, the new legal framework will allow the deployment of Frontex in the four partner countries (Albania, Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina) with the full power of its mandate, to ensure that their borders continue to be respected and protected in accordance with European best practices. Beyond that, the new framework is expected to support and strengthen more cooperation in the management of borders and migration in the Western Balkans, cooperation in the fight against smuggling and guaranteeing security in line with European best practices.
Oliver Varhelyi: New financial package to stop illegal migration from the Balkans
The European Commission has also approved a new aid package worth 39.2 million euros under the instrument for pre-accession assistance (IPA III) to strengthen border management in the Western Balkans. The Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement, Olivér Várhelyi, said that given the increased migratory pressure in the region, the European Commission is focusing on strengthening border protection, fighting smuggling networks and increasing returns from the region.
According to this institution, the aid package approved this week follows a detailed assessment of the needs determined with the authorities of the Western Balkans. The support targets the border management capacities of the region mainly through the provision of specialized equipment. This includes mobile surveillance systems, unmanned aerial vehicles, biometric devices, training and support for the establishment and operation of national coordination centers.
Support also covers the operationalization of migration facilities, including reception facilities. “Between 2021 and 2024, we intend to increase our funds by 60% in total, to at least 350 million euros for our Western Balkan partners,” said Commissioner Varhelyi. According to him, this will support the Western Balkans in all areas of developing effective migration management systems, including asylum and reception, border security and returns of illegal migrants.