Europeanisation meets democracy from below: The Western Balkans on the search for new European and democratic Momentum (WB2EU)

Return Migration in Bulgaria: A Policy Context of Missed Opportunities, Evelina Staykova, ÖGfE Policy Brief, 17’2022

The last census in Bulgaria shows that population has shrunk by 11.5% in a decade. Low birth rate, high death rate and migration are the key factors behind the country’s demographic decline. Governmental strategy documents admit that Bulgaria has lapsed into a serious demographic crisis and recognise migration and especially return migration as one possible solution. However, the recognition of potential benefits from this phenomenon failed to translate into active and concrete policies aimed at attracting returnee´s involvement in the prosperity of the country.

Return migration gathered new momentum during the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has accounted for the return of many Bulgarians. These events have reconfirmed the need for a thorough re-evaluation of current policies concerning return migration and this accounts for the critical analysis of the Bulgarian case made in the following Policy Brief in order to identify possible vectors for improvement.

Policy Recommendations

  1. Identifying and managing the main obstacles to return.
  2. Ensuring better interconnectedness between the ‚diaspora‘ and the policies of return migration in order to facilitate return and re-integration.
  3. Developing a comprehensive package of measures dealing both with decisions to emigrate and return.
  4. Better implementation of the national policies and strategies in the field of migration.
The Policy Brief is published in the framework of the WB2EU project. The project aims at the establishment of a network of renowned think-tanks, do-tanks, universities, higher education institutes and policy centres from the Western Balkans, neighbouring countries and EU member states that will be most decisive for the enlargement process and Europeanisation of the region in the upcoming years. The WB2EU project is co-funded by the European Commission under its Erasmus+ Jean Monnet programme. The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.


#MigrationEU : A graffiti illustrating the eighth priority of the Juncker Commission: „Migration“

Photographer: Johanna Leguerre
Artist: Thomas Dechoux
© European Union, 2015
Source: EC – Audiovisual Service

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