The EU is applying new high-tech measures to hinder people from crossing into the EU, including technology tracking, biometric data gathering, and drone surveillance. This could lead to a decline in people migrating through these territories, choosing more dangerous routes, or taking greater risks on the existing Balkan route.
The Balkan region borders the EU and Schengen zone, which makes it a standard route for transitory migrants wishing to gain asylum within the EU. The Balkans act as a transitory region for people on the move, most from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Iraq and Iran. Many people transit through in hopes of gaining entrance to Croatia or Hungary, from which they can travel to other EU states. Since the infamous EU-Turkey deal closed the Balkan Route at the Greece-Turkey border, the Balkans have had relatively few asylum applications. Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia have around 5000 asylum seekers, while Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Albania have fewer than 200. However, some 60,000 people travelled along the Balkan route in 2021.
These states are often antagonistic towards people seeking refuge in Europe. Since 2017, there has been a problem of pushbacks along the Croatian and Hungarian borders: people attempting to cross a border are forcibly ‘pushed back’ into the country they entered from by authorities. The practice often constitutes human rights violations, including assault, gender-based violence, and violence against children. Hungary is the only EU country to have formally legalised pushbacks nationally, although they are commonplace in many EU countries.