Open balkan labor market

Employment barriers


Barriers to employment in the region are falling. With 62 votes for, no against and no abstentions, the Assembly ratified the Open Balkans laws. This will mean the abolition of work permits and a free labor market for Macedonia, Serbia and Albania.

Those who want to work in a private company in one of these countries will be issued a special identification number. Citizens will be able to get it through the web portal for electronic services, and with that there will be practically no need to get a work permit, which until now had to wait up to 3 months, a bunch of other documents and administrative costs, the national coordinator for Open Balkans tells Sitel.

“By filling in some personal data and verifying your identity through that software, the e-services website will be able to retrieve your identification number. Then with that number you will register in the electronic services system of Serbia and after certain procedures of the company that employs you, that company will register you for pension and health and on that basis will pay you a salary based on the work done” – Marjan Zabrchanec, national coordinator for Open Balkans.

The new tools should be available on the site by the end of March. Zabrcanec says that there has already been interest from foreigners to work with us.

“I have information that larger companies that are located in cross-border areas, around Kumanovo or Struga, already have specific information about the employment of citizens from Serbia and Albania in domestic companies. Of course, there will be cases in the opposite direction as well.” – Marjan Zabrchanec, national coordinator for Open Balkans.

This measure was supposed to function last fall, but the implementation got stuck in the Parliament, where the committee discussion was postponed for months.

At today’s session, the agreement with Frontex signed between Macedonia and the EU in October last year was also ratified. This makes it possible, at the request of the country, to deploy Frontex police officers at critical points on the border, together with our police officers, and there will be an opportunity to use all Frontex equipment.

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Serbia and Kosovo made a deal. Hopefully successful one

made a deal

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Serbia and Kosovo made a deal. Hopefully successful one

Is Balkan stable after they made a deal?

The European Union has brokered a deal between member candidate Serbia and its former province Kosovo to ease travel restrictions, removing an issue that had raised tensions in the West Balkans, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell tweeted on Saturday.

“We have a deal,” Borrell wrote after they made a deal. “Under the EU-facilitated Dialogue, Serbia agreed to abolish entry/exit documents for Kosovo ID holders and Kosovo agreed to not introduce them for Serbian ID holders.”

The move is symbolic progress in the decades-long dispute over the statehood of Kosovo and the coexistence of Albanians and Serbs, which is unresolved despite diplomatic offensives from the US and the EU, most recently this week.

A former Yugoslav province where Albanians are in a big majority, Kosovo fought a brief war of independence, culminating in Nato air strikes against Belgrade in 1999 as the international community feared ethnic cleansing of Albanians at the hands of Serbs.

For years under international protection, Pristina unilaterally broke off from Belgrade in 2008. More than a hundred nations have recognised its independence but Serbia has refused to accept it, as have several EU and Nato nations like Spain, Greece and Romania.




Top US and EU envoys have toured Kosovo and Serbia this week after the failure of talks in Brussels earlier this month to resolve tensions over Kosovo’s decision to mandate special entry-exit documents on top of Serb IDs — unless Serbia lifts a similar measure for Kosovars.

The EU and the US moved in lockstep as they applied pressure both on Kosovo premier Albin Kurti and Serbian president Aleksandar Vučić to make a deal.

Kurti confirmed they made a deal in a Facebook post on Saturday evening.

“Thank you all for your support and patience, especially in these last four weeks,” he wrote. “The spirit of the principled and equal talks in Brussels is reciprocity. Normalising solutions should have reciprocity within, as good neighbourly relationships imply it.”

Vučić did not immediately comment.

“I thank [US state department deputy assistant secretary Gabriel] Escobar and American diplomacy for their strong engagement in support of the EU-facilitated dialogue,” said EU chief negotiator Miroslav Lajčák in a Twitter post.

Pristina has bet on its pro-Western credentials to promote speedy accession to Nato and the EU amid the war in Ukraine, while comparing it with Serbia’s traditional closeness to Russia. Belgrade has rejected that as diplomatic posturing.

But accession is conditional on the normalisation of relations with Serbia, which has been a member candidate for years but has yet to deliver on laying the Kosovo conflict to bed.

Vučić has said he expected a deal on the IDs, adding that he would defend the interest of ethnic Serbs who live in Kosovo but reject the authority of Pristina. Prominent Serb politicians have refused to give ground on Kosovo, often calling the country “our province”.

Members of the Serb community in Northern Kosovo erected barricades and stared down Kosovo police when Pristina first introduced the rules for the entry-exit documents. Shots were fired with no injuries. Kosovo extended the deadline on applying the document rules by a month to September 1 but insisted on equal treatment of the citizens of both countries.

“Kosovo Serbs, as well as all other citizens, will be able to travel freely between Kosovo & Serbia using their ID cards. The EU just received guarantees from PM Kurti to this end,” Borrell wrote. “This is a European solution. We congratulate both leaders.”

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