Balkan refugee trail

In 2015, the Western Balkans Route has become the hotspot of European migration flows. Nearly all of the governments of the European countries were overburdened with this massive flow of refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants. Without the spontaneous stepping in, self-organisation and cooperation of a countless number of NGOs, grassroots initiatives and voluntary helpers the situation in the countries where the refugees passed through or where they applied for asylum, the situation would have gone completely out of hand.

This project wants to follow the Balkans trail of spontaneous civic engagement and explore, if the lessons learned on a grass-roots level can be taken to a European policy level and help shape a European solidarity based on joint values and legal norms (such as the European Convention on Human Rights).

Background:

In 2015, the Western Balkans Route has become the hotspot of European migration flows. In what has been termed among others “European refugee and migrant crisis” an unprecedented number of refugees have made their way through this part of Europe with more than 850.000 people reaching the shores of the EU after perilous sea passages in Greece and making their way through the Balkans and via Macedonia, Serbia, (and depending on the respective border policies) Hungary, Croatia, Slovenia, Austria, and Germany.

This sudden and massive flow of population has already had a substantial impact on the domestic politics of most European countries and the EU as a whole. It has generated new tensions and exacerbated pre-existing ones between the member states of the EU, and promises to be critically important for the Union as a whole.

Nearly all of the governments of the European countries were overburdened with this massive flow of refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants. Without the spontaneous stepping in, self-organisation and cooperation of a countless number of NGOs, grassroots initiatives and voluntary helpers the situation in the countries where the refugees passed through or where they applied for asylum, the situation would have gone completely out of hand. Thus, while in all of these countries a strong civic engagement has developed forms of active solidarity, on a European policy level the EU member states failed in creating solidarity and cooperative approaches to tackle a crisis.

The project wants to follow the Balkans trail of spontaneous civic engagement and explore, if the lessons learned on a grass-roots level can be taken to a European policy level and help shape a European solidarity based on joint values and legal norms (such as the European Convention on Human Rights). Furthermore, it tries to support the momentum of civic engagement by assessing the support needs of civic initiatives and volunteers in order to enable their continued contribution to society. In particular recommendations shall be elaborated to better tackle these needs through various EU programmes and strategies (such as Erasmus+, Europe for Citizens, EUDSR,....)

Project aims:

  • Promote European policy approaches based on solidarity and collaboration among the European Countries
  • Make the experience of local civic initiatives in meeting social challenges and developing cooperative solutions usable on a European level
  • Feed the experience of these initiatives into the development process of European programmes and strategies in order to ensure continued support for voluntarism and active citizenship