Close cooperation with the Western Balkan countries

Close cooperation with the Western Balkan countries


, Date:
26 October 2022

Federal Minister of the Interior Nancy Faeser and her counterparts from the Western Balkan countries and the EU meet in Berlin to discuss the current migration situation and the fight against human smugglers and organised crime.

“We in Europe share responsibility for stopping illegal immigration so that we can continue to help those people who urgently need our assistance,” Federal Minister of the Interior Nancy Faeser said at the Western Balkans Summit in Berlin on 20 October.

Representatives from 16 countries and the EU joined Federal Minister Faeser for the summit, part of the Berlin Process, a platform for cooperation between Western Balkan and other European countries as well as EU institutions. At this year’s summit, the interior ministers and the EU’s commissioner for home affairs, Ylva Johansson, focused on the current migration situation.

European partners stand by their humanitarian responsibility

We want to protect people who come to us to escape wars and political persecution. “We stand by our responsibility to provide humanitarian assistance for refugees,” emphasised Federal Minister Faeser.

At the same time, however, the European partners plan to take decisive action to stop illegal migration, she added. “No one should put their life at risk on a dangerous journey to Europe where they then have no chance of legal residence.”

Outcomes of the Western Balkans Summit

The summit participants agreed on the following action to contain rising irregular migration via the Balkan route:

  • aligning the visa policy of the Western Balkan countries with European visa standards;
  • taking targeted measures to fight immigrant smugglers, who have no regard for human life;
  • ensuring effective border protection with the support of Frontex; and
  • creating dependable procedures for returning people to their countries of origin when they have no right of residence in Europe.

In addition, the European partners plan to further intensify their cooperation with all the countries of the Western Balkans to fight organised crime and corruption. “This improves the security situation not only in the Western Balkans, but also in the EU and beyond,” Federal Minister Faeser said.

The Berlin Process

The Federal Government established the Berlin Process in 2014 with the first Western Balkans Summit in Berlin. Since then, the participants have included the six Western Balkan countries (“WEB6”) Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia. All are prospective candidates for joining the European Union. The Berlin Process is intended to help the entire region align itself with the EU more quickly. Austria, Croatia, France, Italy, Poland, Slovenia, the United Kingdom and the European Commission were involved in establishing the Berlin Process along with Germany. Additional countries such as Bulgaria and Greece and representatives of international organisations also take part as appropriate.

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