Central and eastern European countries emerged as unlikely champions of Europe’s first wave. Their total death rates have been far lower than in larger and richer western European countries. This was unexpected since the region’s health systems are underfunded and understaffed compared to the west. The early success of central and eastern European countries in containing COVID-19 now appears to be a double-edged sword. Read more
Policy Brief: Tracking Policy Responses to COVID-19: Opportunities, Challenges and Solutions by Daly et al.
Governments have responded to the Covid-19 pandemic by adopting a wide range of policy measures with different effects on infection rates and deaths, but also varying socio-economic consequences. The Oxford Supertracker at the Department of Social Policy and Intervention (DSPI) aims to provide a global online directory of relevant policy trackers that have been developed to monitor policies and individual preferences in respect to Covid-19 across countries.
Trackers vary widely in terms of policy fields, country coverage, types of authors and users. The Supertracker provides an online directory that brings together data sources on (1) deaths and cases of Covid-19, (2) policies to prevent the spread of Covid-19, (3) preferences and behavioural responses of individuals, and (4) policies seeking to mitigate or compensate for the consequences of Covid-19. Read more
Book: Mitigating the COVID-19 effect Emergency economic policy-making in Central Europe by Podvršič et al.
This paper analyses the economic policy-making in the first phase of the epidemic in five Central Europe countries, Austria, Czechia, Hungary, Slovakia and Slovenia, whose economic structure is characterized by strong export orientation. The focus is on the participatory character of the governments’ COVID-19 packages, on their design, and targets. Read more
Report: Albania: first national policy document on ageing by Jorgoni
With its National Action Plan on Ageing (NAPA) 2020-2024, Albania introduces a series of measures and actions that aim to ensure a healthy long life and provide full coverage of health and social services for elderly
persons in need. Read more here
Report: The Social and Economic Effects of COVID-19 on Children in North Macedonia by Petreski, M., Petreski, B., Tomovska-Misoska, A., Gerovska Mitev, M., Parnardzieva-Zmejkova, M., Dimkovski, V. and Morgan, N.
The pandemic caused by the global spread of the coronavirus Covid-19 (hereafter: the pandemic or Covid-19) is harming social, educational and health wellbeing of children, with the most vulnerable being hit the hardest. Children are being impacted directly, through school, extracurricular and childcare facilities closures, social distancing and confinement, which puts a heavy burden on their educational, cognitive and emotional development, with the risk of increasing their anxiety and stress levels. Children are also being impacted indirectly, through the reduction of household incomes, which reduces their material and social wellbeing, impairs access to social and healthcare, while also exposing the hardest hit to risks malnutrition. Read more
Technical report: EU Candidate Countries’ & Potential Candidates’ Economic Quarterly (CCEQ) by the European Commission
An overview of economic developments in candidate and pre-candidate countries.
The disruptive effects of the COVID-19crisisontheWestern Balkaneconomies became visible already in the first quarter of 2020, with annual GDP growth decelerating notably to 2.5%from 4.3%in the preceding quarter. The slowdownwas largely driven bya deepening recession in Albania anda decelerationin Serbiaand in North Macedonia. Private consumption remained the key growth driverbutinvestment showed a mixed performance, with year-on-year declines registered in some of the countries. The region’scurrent account deficit stood at6%of GDP, the highest level in the last 5 years, suggesting that external positions in many economies remain vulnerable. Read more
Journal article: THE SOCIAL EXCLUSION OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES FROM TERTIARY EDUCATION – TARGETING BARRIERS DEPENDING ON THE TYPE OF DISABILITY BASED ON THE FINDINGS OF A QUALITATIVE STUDY by Nikolajević
In this paper, we primarily dealt with the low representation of persons with disabilities in the tertiary education system and targeted specific barriers that keep people with disabilities outside the tertiary education process. The mentioned problem was approached from the perspective of social exclusion and one of the main tasks of the conducted research was to gain insight into the types of barriers that affect persons with different types of disabilities depending on their student status. Read more
Book: The European Union and the Paradox of Enlargement. The Complex Accession of the Western Balkans by T. Sekulic, University of Milano-Bicocca Palgrave Studies in European Political Sociology, Palgrave Macmillan 2020
This book sheds light on the contradictions underlying the European Union enlargement process, specifically to the Western Balkans, challenging the common assumption that the integration of an extended European space might be possible without mutual transformation of the institutions and agencies involved. Sekulic maps the institutional dimension of the accession process, and analyses how the conditionality principle shapes and constrains the space for negotiation within the EU. Combining ethnographic research with the discourse analysis of the European Commission’s reports and documents from 2008 to 2019 concerning the Western Balkan countries, the book also explores the perceptions and agency of the individuals involved in this process. The European Union and the Paradox of Enlargement will be of interest to students and scholars of European integration, the sociology of Europe and the EU, and Eastern European and Western Balkan studies. Read more
Report: From Bosnia and Herzegovina to Austria via Slovenia: migration and posting of third country nationals in the EU by S. Danaj, L. Geyer, S. Cukut Krilić, K. Toplak, & M. Vah Jevšnik
In this new study conducted in the frame of the project Con3Post– Posting of Third Country Nationals. Mapping the trend in the construction sector, our colleagues Sonila Danaj and Leonard Geyer in collaboration with the colleagues Sanja Cukut Krilić, Kristina Toplak & Mojca Vah Jevšnik of the ZRC SAZU – Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts in Slovenia investigate the main characteristics of the trend of posting third country nationals to work in the EU construction sector. The report focuses on the specific regional labour mobility patterns between Bosnia and Her zegovina (BiH) as a third country, Slovenia as a sending country, and Austria as a receiving country. Read more
Balkan Barometer 2020: Covid-19 impact assessment by RCC
Following the annual issue of the Balkan Barometer survey, the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) initiated additional analysis to observe more closely sentiments and perceptions of the general public and the business community in the context of recent developments deriving from COVID-19. In this respect, RCC engaged in data collection and data processing as a basis for snap-shot analysis of the attitudes, experiences and perceptions on the recent developments in six economies. Read more
Policy Brief: The Western Balkans in Times of the Global Pandemic by Bieber et al.
The global COVID-19 pandemic and the measures taken by governments around the world constitute a major rupture to the “business as usual”, and this includes the Western Balkans, too. The pandemic has been overshadowing other developments while also accelerating existing trends, and it will continue to do so. This analysis establishes the COVID-19 pandemic as a critical juncture, a crisis that can permanently shake up institutions and societies. There are considerable dangers beyond the impact of the pandemic on human lives, ranging from an economic crisis which could turn out to be worse than the one in 2008/9, to a heightened crisis of democracy and a geopolitical shift. None of these developments are inevitable and some of the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic for the Western Balkans can be mitigated. By exploring nine critical fields, this analysis will highlight ways in which the pandemic and government responses pose particular challenges: 1. The Role of the State, 2. Democracy and State Capture, 3. Geopolitical Shifts,4. New Nationalisms, 5. Social Resilience, 6. Environmental Impact, 7. Migration and Health Care, 8. Health Care and Social Security and 9. Economic Implications. With regard to all of the critical fields, the study examines the impact and outlines possible risks and opportunities before identifying specific interventions that could prevent the worst consequences for the region. Read more
Book: Migration from the Newly Independent States by M. Denisenko, S. Strozza, M. Light (eds)
This book discusses international migration in the newly independent states after the collapse of the Soviet Union, which involved millions of people. Written by authors from 15 countries, it summarizes the population movement over the post-Soviet territories, both within the newly independent states and in other countries over the past 25 years. Read more
Journal article: Partnerships for the Goals: beyond SDG 17 by L. Stott & A. Scoppetta
The article positions partnership as central to meeting the targets of the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals that make up the United Nations Agenda for 2030 with Goal 17, ‘Partnerships for the Goals’, often described as pivotal to the transformational efforts required for its realisation. In view of this, Goal 17’s limited vision of partnership and its potential contribution to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals is disappointing. This article suggests that partnership needs to be articulated as a more vibrant vehicle for supporting the transformations needed to attain the Goals. This requires acknowledgement of the need for deeper multi-level and multi-actor relationships; the promotion of collective accountability for achieving the SDGs; and a stronger evidence base for partnership policy-making with more robust mutual exchange and learning. Read more
Journal article: Theory and practice of aging upon covid-19 pandemic by A. Sidorenko & A. Golubev
Never before in history aging has been such a significant factor for epidemics as it is now for the current COVID-19 pandemic, which features a drastic shift of mortality towards older ages. Our analysis of data on COVID-19-related mortality in Spain, Italy, and Sweden has shown that, in the range of 30 to 90 years of age, each dependency of the logarithm of mortality upon age is linear, and all regression lines are strictly parallel to those related to the total mortality in accordance with the Gompertz law. In all cases, irrespective of the stage and place of epidemic, mortality doubling time in this age range is close to 7,5 years. The rates of being infected with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus and of being diagnosed due to the symptomatic manifestations of the infection are dependent on age to a far lesser degree. With account for these observations, three messages are put forth:
1) Older persons are the principal victims of both SARSCoV-2 and measures undertaken to control its spread;
2) Older persons are not the principal driving force of SARS-CoV-2 spread;
3) Older persons can and should be engaged in combating the pandemic and its consequences; however, not via selective social distancing and other discriminative measures.
People aged over 65 years constitute a significant part of the current population. They have specific interests and needs, which deserve no less respect than those of any other age group. This includes the right for the quality of life that remains sustained under the emergency conditions. Since the prospects for controlling the SARS-CoV-2 are dubious, those in charge of decisions concerning «people aged above 65» should mind that currently, unlike in the medieval ages, 65+ is the individual future of almost everyone.
Report: Western Balkans Regular Economic Report, No. 17, Spring 2020: The Economic and Social Impact of COVID-19 by the World Bank
In Spring 2020, Western Balkan countries – like most others in the world—have been forced to impose tight restrictions on economic life to contain the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. In the first half of 2020, the world has seen explosive growth of infections with the deadly novel virus. As country after country has been forced to shut down large areas of social and economic life to slow contagion, the Western Balkans have not been spared. Read more
Report: TVET Systems’ Response to COVID-19: Challenges and Opportunities by the World Bank
This note focuses on the role of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It provides guidance on reducing the adverse impact of the pandemic on TVET provision and enhancing the contribution TVET can make to mitigating the health, social, and economic impact of COVID-19. Read more
Report: COVID-19 and the World of Work: Rapid Assessment of the Employment Impacts and Policy Responses. North Macedonia by the ILO in collaboration with EBRD
The ILO Office for Central and Eastern Europe and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) established a joint task force to assess the impact of the coronavirus crisis on the region’s economies. The EBRD/ILO Task Force was invited by the Economic and Social Council in North Macedonia in 2020 to support the development of policy responses when the public health threat developed into a global pandemic with economic consequences. Read more
Report: OECD Policy Responses to Coronavirus (COVID-19) COVID-19 crisis response in Eastern Partner countries by the OECD
This note considers the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in the Eastern Partner countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Republic of Moldova, and Ukraine). It analyses the economic and social impacts, as well as policy responses to contain the spread of the virus and help households and businesses weather the crisis. Finally, a menu of policy options is considered for supporting small and medium-sized enterprises in the short and medium terms, with a particular focus on digitalisation. Read more
Report: OECD Policy Responses to Coronavirus (COVID-19) COVID-19 crisis response in South East European economies by the OECD
More than 16,000 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the South East Europe1 (SEE) region as of 14 April. As the number of coronavirus cases continues to grow rapidly in SEE, governments have been gradually announcing states of emergency, lockdowns and partial shutdowns to contain the spread of the virus. Coronavirus measures resulted in suspended flights, partial border closures, domestic travel restrictions and school shutdowns across the region. Government authorities banned large gatherings and imposed travel restrictions. Serbia and North Macedonia have cancelled their respective general elections scheduled for April. Read more
Policy Brief: Unleashing transformation through partnerships: The lost potential of SDG 17 by A. Scoppetta & L. Stott
This Policy Brief analyses how partnership is understood and promoted in European Union regulations and programmes. The central argument of the brief is that a much deeper understanding of partnership than that presented in the Sustainable Development Goal 17 ‘Partnership for the Goals’ is required to meet the transformational ambition of the UN Agenda 2030 in Europe and beyond. Available here
Report: Life and society in the EU candidate countries by Eurofound
This report is based on the Eurofound’s European Quality of Life Survey (EQLS) and focuses on the five current EU candidate countries – Albania, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Turkey, which were included in the 2016 wave of the EQLS. The report reviews three broad areas – quality of life, quality of public services and quality of society – and covers indicators on: subjective well-being, standard of living, aspects of deprivation and the work–life balance; healthcare, long-term care, childcare and other public services; social insecurity, perceptions of social exclusion and societal tensions, trust in people and institutions, participation and community engagement, and involvement in training. Available here
Book: Fiscal Decentralisation, Local Government and Policy Reversals in Southeastern Europe by Will Bartlett, Sanja Kmezić, and Katarina Đulić (eds)
This edited collection provides a comprehensive geographic and chronological overview of the decentralisation processes in the successor states of former Yugoslavia and Albania during their transition and EU integration years, from 1990 until 2016. The contributors enrich the wider literature on fiscal decentralisation in transition countries by exploring several broad questions on democratisation, the political economy of post-communist transition, the role of external actors in policy transfer and the issue of financial stability in the post-crisis period. Details here
Book: Social Policy, Poverty, and Inequality in Central and Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union by Sofiya An, Tatiana Chubarova, Bob Deacon, Paul Stubbs (eds).
This edited volume maps the developments and trajectories of welfare states in several post-socialist countries and discusses the outcomes of prioritizing economic growth over social welfare. Authors from different disciplines address key aspects of social protection including health care, poverty reduction measures, active labour market policies, pension systems, and child welfare systems across Central, Eastern and South Eastern Europe, and the former Soviet Union. Details here
Book: Extended Working Life Policies by Áine Ní Léime, Jim Ogg, Martina Rašticová, Debra Street, Clary Krekula, Monika Bédiová and Ignacio Madero-Cabib (eds).
This open access volume addresses the current debate on extended working life policy by considering the influence of gender and health on the experiences of older workers. Bringing together an international team of scholars, it tackles issues as gender, health status and job/ occupational characteristics that structure the capacity and outcomes associated with working longer in various contexts. Details here
The Western Balkans Network The Future of the Welfare State (FWS), utilising the Open Method of Coordination as a tool and the EU Pillar for Social Rights as a relevant policy framework, initiates coordination in education, social protection and social inclusion in the Western. Read more here.
The peer review focused on occupational safety and health of posted workers (OSH) in the European Union (EU), an issue that only recently has received some attention. The presentations and discussions during the peer review focused on the legal framework at both the EU level and the national levels. OSH related vulnerabilities of posted workers were systematically analysed and explained, and employer’s role and responsibilities in relation to the OSH of posted workers discussed. As an illustrative example, a case of a work accident of a posted worker from Slovenia was presented. After the Slovenian case, the Italian and German cases were introduced. Discussions during the working groups additionally addressed legal and health care mechanism and practices in case of work-related accidents. Furthermore, ideas and suggestions on measures to prevent or reduce OSH-related vulnerabilities were exchanged. Read more about the project here.
The review-and-analytical article deals with the interrelation between demographic transition and national security. The focus is on the countries of the former Soviet Union. It proves that along with two traditional approaches of population policy, i.e. prevention and overcoming of negative consequences of demographic transition, measures of adjustment to demographic change are acquiring increasing importance. Read here
The needs assessment conducted in the frame of the EEPOW Project provides a review of the capacities of the four candidate countries of the Western Balkans, namely Albania, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia, to implement the Posting of Workers Directive (96/71/EC). The findings indicate that the Directive has been partially transposed into national law and more needs to be done in terms of structures, human resources, and the engagement of the stakeholders in the process.
In the frame of the Posting of Workers in Eastern Europe (EEPOW) project, four policy briefs have been published on the existing institutional capacities as well as their needs and requirements for the full transposition and implementation of the Posting of Workers Directive (96/71/EC) into the national legislation of the candidate countries, namely Albania, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia. In order for the briefs to be accessible to national practitioners and general audiences, each brief is also going to be published in the local languages by our project partners.
Eurofound has just published the working life in Albania country profile prepared by our colleague Sonila Danaj. The profile presents an overview of the current industrial relations and working conditions in the country. This is the first time that a working life country profile was prepared for Albania.
In this new Policy brief, the authors present language barriers faced by posted workers in nine European Union countries (Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Germany, Italy, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain) and discuss the implications these may have for their occupational safety and health (OSH). As the fastest-growing form of temporary cross-border labour mobility in the EU, posted workers are faced with language barriers which significantly limit the capacity of posted workers to realise and exercise their employment rights, including health and safety rights. The Brief offers recommendations for policy that could help reduce OSH risks many posted workers are exposed to due to language barriers.
The four case studies on Albania, Montenegro, Serbia and the Republic of North Macedonia focus on examining the existing legal and regulatory framework, governance indicators, human capacities as well as the institutional arrangement, inter-agency cooperation and stakeholder engagement with regard to the implementation of the Posting of Workers Directive (96/71/EC) in these candidate countries of Eastern Europe. Downloadable here
Read the new publication from the the World Bank and the Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies (wiiw) on the Western Balkan labor market trends.
The new report of the PAWCER project presents welfare attitudes in Russia and the European countries. It covers public support for changes in social protection systems as well as in current social policies. The vulnerable groups include: the poor and concern about income redistribution, the unemployed and unemployment benefits, the elderly and public pensions, working parents and childcare, as well as migrants and accessibility to social rights. See project here
This policy brief provides insights into the application of integrated case management by Public Employment Services and Social Services institutions in the Western Balkans. The authors describe the status quo of case management and cooperative practices in the region and discuss the potentials and caveats of implementing integrated case management in such contexts. Based on current practices in the individual countries as well as the lessons learned from EU member states that have developed their own ICM models, the development of Integrated Case Management Standards agreed upon jointly among all actors across all countries is recommended. ICM models, however, should take into account local requirements and make best use of available resident potentials.
Read more about the project
This policy brief aims to provide a brief overview of the current decentralization of social services in Kosovo. The authors address the present challenges faced by Centres for Social Work and non-governmental organizations and provide policy and practice recommendations to make the decentralization process fully operational to the benefit of the most vulnerable groups in the population. Read more here
The guidelines and toolkit presented here are intended to assist Public Employment Services and Centres for Social Welfare in the Western Balkans to build up integrated case management systems. Integrated case management is understood as an innovative practice which is employed especially by these two institutions collectively to serve the most vulnerable with all available resources from both the labour market and the social assistance system, and even beyond. To enhance the inclusiveness of labour markets, the engagement of other actors is also necessary. The guidelines thus recommend the setting up of integrated case management systems that are embedded in partnership structures. The toolkit, an integrative part of this paper, furthermore offers all necessary resources to provide a quick reference resource for policymakers during the implementation of integrated case management.
Read more about the project
This comparative report on integrated case management for employment and social welfare users analyses the legal, policy and institutional framework for collaborative approaches and the practices applied by national and local actors as a basis on which to build up an integrated case management system in the Western Balkans. Integrated case management is understood as innovative practice employed by the Public Employment Service and Centres for Social Welfare in the countries and territories collectively to serve the most vulnerable with all available resources from both the labour market and the social assistance system.
Champions are identified and recommendations provided that should help partnerships to flourish at the interface of labour market and social policy. The report shows that there is a lack of well-established partnerships practising integrated case management in the Western Balkans and that Territorial Employment Pacts are a model well-suited to providing an overall frame for an integrated case management system in the Western Balkans.
Read more about the project
The publication “Bridge Building: Knowledge Exchange in Social Welfare Policy and Research -Innovative Approaches in Labour Market Policy and Health and Long-Term Care in Eastern Europe” compiles Workshop papers presented at the launch event ‘Building Bridges in Social Welfare Policy in Eastern Europe’ (19 September 2016; Vienna). It provides a snapshot of contents for further discussion and, ideally, for mutual learning among the wider European community. It highlights the findings from scholars and experts when examining innovative approaches implemented in their countries. The publication consists of a total of eight papers: four papers offer insights into research and good practice in the field of labour market policy and four papers provide information on findings from the area of health and long-term care.