Past projects

The Visa Liberalization Project

In 2008 and 2009 Reactor was involved in various activities in cooperation with NGOs from the region, with the aim of advocating for visa liberalization. As part of the activities, Reactor published a report in April 2009 before the final EC assessment about Macedonia's progress in fulfilling the objectives set down with the Visa Free Roadmap. This report brought to light new arguments in the Brussels debate on visa liberalization by presenting the benefits it will bring to both Macedonia and the EU

In March 2009, Samuel Zbogar, the Slovenian minister of Foreign Affairs, and Franco Frattini, the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs, sent a letter to their colleagues in the EU in which they emphasized the need for visa liberalization for the countries of the Western Balkans. 

We cannot give up on our goal to spread democracy, peace, stability and prosperity to South-Eastern Europe. We must continue to work on the gradual accession of the Western Balkans to the Union. For this purpose, we need the support of the local pro-European and democratic governments, and our first step should be the adoption of urgent and specific measures which will help them continue their work on the European agenda, the letter states. It is precisely the visa liberalization expected in 2009 that can help towards the accomplishment of that goal.
And while in the coming period the EU will continue the debates on abolishing the visa regime for the countries of the Western Balkans, Macedonian citizens continue to be faced with the long and arduous process of applying for a visa, which seriously discourages travelling outside the country. Today, only 6% of the Macedonian population leaves the country to discover Europe. For a country candidate that aspires to become part of the European family and promote European values it is especially important for its citizens to be able to get the chance to experience directly what that Europe stands for. This particularly hits hard with the younger population, who, unlike the older generations, have felt the negative effects of the visa regime barrier.
 
In the report “Taking Down the Schengen Wall” REACTOR focuses on the existing visa regime, with arguments as to why this regime has proven so unsuccessful. In the words of a European Commission representative, wherever visa requirements or an effective visa policy make it hard to cross a border, the only ones than manage to get through are the smugglers. Tourists and businessmen do not bother to go to Europe because they are discouraged by the visa policy. 

REACTOR argues that Macedonia should be awarded the abolition of the visa regime, as it is the leader in comparison to other countries in the region according to the European Commission assessment report of implementation of the roadmap for visa liberalization. What makes our report different from similar documents is that we also focus on such issues as the positive aspect of migration flow – a process that we show is advantageous for both the EU and Macedonia, despite numerous reports claiming otherwise. In addition, this report reveals why the current EU visa policy must be revised – which should be of particular interest in the future process of creating visa policy for the new EU neighbors.

In 2009, the European public was witness to the debates in the European Parliament that discussed, among other things, the future of the Balkans. For Macedonia, the European MPs recommended that a date be set by the end of the year for EU negotiations, as well as complete visa liberalization. In this respect, RECTOR fully supports the European Parliament’s sentiment and we agree that Macedonia has rightfully earned its place on the EU White List, urging those responsible to take the arguments put out in this report in consideration when deciding on the Macedonia’s European future.