EC presents plan to reduce irregular migration through Western Balkans

Brussels, Dec 5 (EFE).- The European Commission presented a plan on Monday to help control migratory flows from Western Balkans, which have increased over the last year.

On the eve of an EU-Western Balkans summit in Tirana, EC vice president Margaritis Schinas presented the plan which includes 20 “operational measures” to “address the migratory pressure.”

The number of migrants arriving in the EU through the Western Balkans has reached record-highs since the refugee crisis in 2015.

The Balkan countries as well as some in central Europe like Austria and the Czech Republic have strengthened their border security to tackle irregular migration.

The measures proposed by the new EC plan are set according to five pillars: border control, asylum procedures, migrant smuggling, cooperation, and visa policy alignment.

Brussels plans to continue working closely with the Western Balkans, saying addressing the issue together is “essential”.

“Migration is a common challenge and something we must tackle jointly, leaving none of our Member States and Western Balkan partners alone with the challenges they are facing,” said Schinas.

Among the measures proposed is “achieving the alignment of visa policy” to prevent migrants arriving in Western Balkans nations — who have enjoyed a visa waiver for over seven years — and then entering the EU, which Schinas said was “not acceptable”

In prior months, citizens from India, Tunisia, and Burundi have entered the EU through this route, according to the Commission.

Home Affairs commissioners are expected to analyze the proposal on Thursday to negotiate new agreements as well as review and potentially increase European Border and Coast Guard – known as Frontex – support to Member States at the EU external borders. EFE


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