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Irregular Migration | Croatia |

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Irregular Migration

Pascal Goeke

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Croatia as a Transit Country

The phenomenon of irregular migration is closely connected with Croatia’s geopolitical position. Croatia is located in the northern part of the so-called Balkan route. The bustling traffic on this route led in 2011 to the Croatian-Slovenian border being crossed by over 47 million people and 21 million automobiles, making it clearly the most highly trafficked EU external border. Politically, it should be noted that Croatia borders the EU and Schengen states of Slovenia and Hungary as well as the states of Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia. Additionally it must be considered that Romania and Bulgaria are EU states but do not belong to the Schengen area, so as regards Schengen borders, the EU and Schengen state of Greece is isolated. Irregular migrants that leave the Schengen state of Greece aiming to enter another Schengen country will, in all likelihood, attempt to cross the Serbian-Hungarian, the Croatian-Hungarian or the Croatian-Slovenian border. This implies the great importance of Croatia as a country of transit for undocumented migrants. If one considers the high number of over 47 million border crossings on the Slovenian-Croatian border and the fact that the Slovenian and Croatian authorities check over 4,000 automobiles every day, the 202 people found hidden in automobiles on this border in 2011 may be tragic in the individual case but negligible on the whole. Also, the 3,461 migrants caught without a valid visa in 2011 do not represent a particular threat or burden for Croatia.

Croatia as Part of the EU Border Regime

Legally, the action of illegal migration is regulated in the Aliens Act, in the penal code, in the law on border surveillance and in other statutes. Croatia has signed a total of 24 readmission agreements with 26 states, of which 17 are EU member states. The pending EU-membership also ensures that the border and migration controls are restructured according to the EU standards. This restructuring falls under the sphere or duties of the Ministry of the Interior. Various trainings for security authorities, public awareness campaigns and the financial support of corresponding NGOs have become a fixed component of the policies and are regularly monitored by EU institutions.



  1. International Organization for Migration (IOM) (2007), p. 33; Frontex (2011, 2012).

  2. Frontex (2012), p. 14.

  3. Europäische Kommission (2012), p. 14.

  4. A common treaty was signed with the Benelux states.

  5. United States Department of State (2012); Europäische Kommission (2012).


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Dr. Pascal Goeke is research assistant at the Department of Geography of the University of Zurich, Switzerland. Email: E-Mail Link: