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14 Oct 2015

Labour Migration Patterns, Policies and Migration Propensity in the Western Balkans

The Western Balkan countries remain an area of interest to those with a stake in migration issues. Despite the region’s common recent history, the Western Balkans are very diverse as regards migration issues: some are plagued by poverty and high unemployment rates that generate large outflows of migrants, while others already attract immigrants to fill the labour shortages in certain booming sectors of their economy. Much of the emigration from the region is directed towards more developed countries, but considerable intraregional movements also occur. The process of accession to the European Union has further diversified the region and the opportunities and mobility of its nationals.

One of the obstacles to the successful development of adequate policies and programmatic responses to migration issues in the region is the lack of knowledge and reliable information on migration trends and on the latent migration propensity from the Western Balkan region. This report aims to take a step towards filling this gap and addressing information needs for policymakers and practitioners. In that regard, the latest migration trends and statistics related to migration movements from and to Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo under UNSCR 1244, Montenegro and Serbia are presented, as well as an overview of their migration policies, particularly in the context of the EU enlargement process. A tentative insight into possible future labour migration flows, based on a survey of migration propensity in all countries under review is offered. Finally, a number of policy recommendations are put forward for consideration.

The report was prepared by the Central European Forum for Migration and Population Research in Warsaw within the framework of the project “Capacity Building, Information and Awareness Raising Towards Promoting Orderly Migration in the Western Balkans”, managed by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in partnership with the International Labour Organization (ILO) and with the financial support from the European Commission AENEAS 2006 programme as well as the Swiss Federal Office for Migration, the German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees, the Government of Liechtenstein and the Italian Ministry for Foreign Affairs/Italian Cooperation.

  • Introduction: setting the context of research
  • Labour migration in Western Balkan countries – a review of literature and historical trends
  • Statistical data on labour migration in the Western Balkans
  • Migration and population change in the Western Balkans – what the data reveal
  • Assessment of migration propensity in Western Balkan countries
  • Labour migration policies in Western Balkan countries – overview and analysis
  • Summary and conclusions