The Balkan region is witnessing an ever-growing number of barriers to the movement of people, goods and ideas, both among the countries of the region and vis-à-vis the European Union. This development is leading to frustration, sluggish regional cooperation and isolation. Moving On: Overcoming Balkan Barriers to a European Future is a product of original research within the Balkan region and the EU, providing new insight into the existence of such borders with regard to political, social, cultural, economic and environmental issues.
Despite the extension of the European Union to include Bulgaria and Romania in 2007, the countries of the Western Balkans still remain more or less isolated from the rest of Europe and from one another by travel restrictions, trade barriers and mutual prejudices. Although many initiatives have been launched to develop and integrate the region so that it can enjoy satisfactory levels of freedom and stability, many people and areas in South Eastern Europe are missing out on important aspects of life. Mobility implies not only the freedom to travel but especially the freedom of individuals and societies to improve and fulfil their potential. In many parts of the Western Balkans there is still a lack of such opportunities, which leads to many young people leaving home in order to advance their careers.
This book is the work of ten journalists selected from throughout South Eastern Europe to participate in the 2007 programme of the Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence, initiated by ERSTE Foundation and the Robert Bosch Stiftung in cooperation with the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN). The programme supports a new generation of motivated journalists from the region dedicated to quality investigation, analysis and reporting. Through personal research trips to 21 countries, the ten fellows of the programme investigated the issue of mobility and gathered pertinent stories, sources and statistics. Based on their experiences, they produced ten articles to show how borders and barriers still hinder development and the movement of people, goods and ideas. They also uncover signs of positive change where some of these frustrations have been overcome.