Why are we running this project?
Due to the liberalization of visa regulations for Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia in 2009 and for Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2010, citizens of these countries are now formally able to travel into the countries of the European Union (EU) without a visa. For the citizens of the Balkan countries, which have been marked by political, social and economical crises, this freedom to travel was the first immediately noticeable step of moving closer towards the EU. However, it remains unaffordable for many, especially for young people, to make use of the freedom to travel due to the low average income. That is why many have never been outside the region so far.
What are our goals?
“Travel to Europe” enables outstanding students from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and from the Kosovo to gain international experience, to broaden their understanding of European structures and to get to know each other. The program is primarily addressed to young people who do not have any experience abroad.
How does the project work?
In collaboration with the German Foreign Office, the participants will receive a free Schengen Visa for a four-week trip though the countries of the European Union. Beyond that, they will receive health insurance, Interrail train tickets, and a daily cash allowance. In the program’s first year, 100 students participated. In the meantime, almost 130 participants travel through the countries of the European Union every year.
Since 2008, the students always begin their trip with a kick-off event in Berlin. They perceive the trip as a formative experience that also changes their relationship to the European Union, to their own country, and to Germany. Through accompanying media reports, the project has generated a great public response in the Southeastern European countries.
The Robert Bosch Stiftung conducts the project “Travel to Europe” in collaboration with the Balkan Trust for Democracy and MitOst e.V. as well as in coordination with various civil society organizations from Southeastern European countries. After a final round in 2017, the Robert Bosch Stiftung will discontinue its financial support for the program.