Common Western Balkan Migration Policy: Borders and Returns

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Common Western Balkan Migration Policy: Borders and Returns

This is the first BRMC Regional Policy Paper. Its main purpose is to present to the general and professional public, as well as to stakeholders, the migration situation in the Western Balkans region, particularly through the overview of the relevant regulations mainly focused on the various modalities for the return of migrants. Unlike most regional papers, this one is primarily dealing with a comparative analysis, and thus it is not presented by countries but by topics. The practice is analysed through secondary sources.
Although the paper is regional in nature, the data were collected at the national level, since it was assumed that the local civil society organisations, Balkan Refugee and Migration Council (BRMC) members, had the most comprehensive insight into all migration-related issues in their countries.

The laws governing the areas of state border control, treatment of foreigners and international protection are analysed only in the parts related to treatments at the borders, while the strategic framework analysis is presented only in the part related to regional cooperation in the border management process and the related issues. The institutional framework in the migration management system is also briefly presented.

The review of international and regional documents, mechanisms and bodies represent a very important part of this paper. The emphasis is also placed on the EU relations with the Western Balkan countries, and in particular on the accession process and cooperation with Frontex. Important thematic units are the access to the territory, access to the asylum procedure and return. In the chapters Access to the Territory and Access to the Asylum Procedure, particular attention is paid to the application of the principle of non-refoulement related to illegal entry into the territory, as well as access to the asylum procedure at the border crossings.

Within the chapter Returns, voluntary (including assisted) and forced returns, readmission and informal returns are addressed, and detention of migrants in the return procedure is addressed as a particularly sensitive issue. The final section provides recommendations for further improvement of legislation and treatment, organised by topic areas, covering related national and regional challenges.

BRMC members owe immense gratitude to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands for supporting the development of this Regional Policy Paper, as well as the entire three year implementation of the project Balkan Refugee and Migration Council - Making a Pathway for a Common Western Balkans Migration Policy.