This policy paper examines the conflicting objectives of EU conditionality in relation to Roma in the aftermath of introducing visa-free travel for the Western Balkans, studying the case of North Macedonia. Since the eastern enlargement, EU conditionality on Roma has gradually advanced in terms of both the acceding countries and EU member states. At the same time, the pressures to curb migration in the EU have inadvertently affected the position of Roma. In acceding countries from the Western Balkans, the tension between these two trends has been clearly illustrated with the EU and national responses to the rise of the number of asylum seekers in the EU from this region. Looking at the case of North Macedonia, the paper shows how national authorities, in response to EU member state requests, have instituted practices at the national level that have led to a violation of the rights of the Roma community, by limiting their freedom to exit the country.
This paper has been prepared as part of the ENGAGE II Fellowship Programme, with support by the Open Society Initiative for Europe (OSIFE). The Fellowship Programme involves academic, civil society and think tank actors from Central and Eastern Europe, the Western Balkans and Eastern Partnership countries. It engages selected fellows in EU-level policy debates on the rule of law in domains such as rights and security, foreign and economic affairs. The programme entails training, study visits, public events and the publication of policy papers. See the penultimate page for more details about the ENGAGE II Fellowship. The programme is coordinated by the CEPS Justice and Home Affairs Unit and includes several CEPS senior research fellows. This publication has been written under the supervision of Sergio Carrera, Head of CEPS Justice and Home Affairs Unit.
Simonida Kacarska is Director at the European Policy Institute, Skopje.