EU Asylum Reform and the Western Balkans: What Does the Future Hold for Serbia? 

Written by Julian Lehmann (GPPI) / September 2023

In June 2023, the EU’s Justice and Home Affairs Council agreed to reform the Common European Asylum system and drastically change how asylum applications are handled at the EU’s external borders. In the future, EU countries will be allowed to more easily reject asylum applications as inadmissible when they deem that an applicant could find protection in a non-EU country. The reform will have consequences beyond the EU, too, as Serbia’s case shows. The reform is likely to incentivize pushbacks at Serbia’s borders, thus exacerbating a broader rule-of-law crisis, and counteract years-long political and financial efforts by EU institutions to build a functioning asylum system. It may also alter EU-Serbia relations and harm the accession process.