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When Visa-free Travel Becomes Difficult to Achieve and Easy to Lose: The EU Visa Free Dialogues after the EU’s Experience with the Western Balkans

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AbstractIn the wake of the visa liberalisation for Western Balkan states, the sudden increase of Balkan asylum seekers has become a salient issue in the eu. This article elaborates on how this issue has made the eu alter its instruments of visa-free travel. With regard to the pre-visa liberalisation phase, the eu now places more emphasis on issues relating to the fundamental rights and social inclusion of marginalised groups, in particular Roma. Also, the ongoing Visa Free Dialogues with countries such as Ukraine and Russia have become more political and include more instances of decision-making where member states can slow down the process. The most significant modification to the EU’s approach is probably the fact that the eu has developed a structured post-visa liberalisation phase. With its post-visa liberalisation monitoring and the visa safeguard clause, the EU has established new (lower level) instruments to keep track of and push for further reforms post-visa liberalisation. The incentive of visa-free travel has turned into a moving target not only used as a source of external eu influence on domestic policy-making pre-visa liberalisation but also post-visa liberalisation.

Affiliations: 1: Institute for European Integration Research, University of ViennaStrohgasse 45/DG, 1030 ViennaAustria


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