Minister of Labor, Veteran and Social Affairs Zoran Djordjevic said on Dec. 23 that a liberal approach to the migrant crisis, as well as the opening of borders with North Macedonia and Albania for a freer flow of people, goods and capital did not mean that "migrants will settle in Serbia and we won't have anywhere to live," or that the workforce from those two countries would diminish the domestic population's employment possibilities.
Djordjevic told Happy TV that the "mini-Schengen," as an agreement made in Tirana is dubbed, was a project that would facilitate the obtaining of work permits for workers from the states that were the signatories of this agreement.
He added that next year an "industrial strategy" would be adopted, which would show where Serbia wanted to be in 50 years' time in economic terms and, accordingly, what kind of workforce was needed.
"An industrial strategy is being made, what we want in Serbia, what kind of Serbia we want where the economy is concerned. The Germans do that for 50 or 100 years in advance and they know exactly what they want. There is a consensus among everyone in Germany as to where they want to see Germany. So we here, too, would like to have a consensus, where we see Serbia in 50 years' time where the economy is concerned, and then we can fight politically," said Djordjevic.
He went on to say that economic migration always existed and that the flow of the workforce existed throughout Europe, not just in the Balkans, which he illustrated with the example that people from Serbia were going to Germany to seek jobs, whereas people from Germany were going to Norway to work.
"We want to develop our country to be economically strong. The 'mini-Schengen' idea is that a work permit will no longer be needed, i.e. the method of obtaining a work permit has been simplified, so that you can work rather than wait," said Djordjevic. He added that prior to the agreement on the "mini-Schengen" the law had stipulated that when a company wanted to bring a worker who wasn't from Serbia, it used to take three months for that person to first get a residence permit and then a work permit.
In his words, as of Jan. 1 the citizens of Serbia, North Macedonia and Albania will be able to cross borders with just their ID cards and will be able to apply for a work permit already at the border.
Foreign nationals will also be able to apply for a job in Serbia when applying for a visa.
"While visa applications are being processed at an embassy, someone from abroad will be able to register at the National Employment Service in parallel. We always look at whether there is such staff in the records of the National Employment Service first, and the domestic work force will have the advantage," said Djordjevic.