Marina Matić Bošković, PhD
Institute of Criminological and Sociological Research, Belgrade

Initiative for enhanced cooperation among Western Balkan states was proposed by leaders of Albania, North Macedonia and Serbia with the aim to establish free movement of goods, services, people and capital in line with the EU single market. Over the three-year period, between 2019-2021, a series of high-level meetings were organised to achieve an agreement on the legal framework for the Open Balkan Initiative. Four agreements were signed in December 2021 to enable the free movement of people/workers and goods, followed by additional agreements in June 2022. Successful implementation of the Open Balkan Initiative could be accompanied by several challenges that the EU faced when the Schengen Agreements were signed and entered into force. One of the biggest challenges for the open EU was the free movement of criminals and, therefore, the challenge of securing cross-border cooperation in criminal matters and increased security risks. In the article, the author will analyse lessons learnt from the EU and the reason for the establishment of the EU area of freedom, security and justice as a response to the risks raised with the free movement across the EU. The author will address the topics that need to be covered in future agreements within the Open Balkan Initiative to prevent the increase in cross-border criminal activities.

Keywords: Open Balkan initiative, EU area of freedom, security and justice, free movement, security risks

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