Online Article: The ‘refugee crisis’ and its transformative impact on EU-Western Balkans relations

Online Article: The ‘refugee crisis’ and its transformative impact on EU-Western Balkans relations by Webb 

This article explores to what extent the securitisation of the refugee crisis led to policy changes and the consequence of these changes on EU relations with the countries of North Macedonia and Serbia. Read more

Closed (30/12/20) CfP: Welfare state and social policies in the CEE region

The peer-reviewed, open access scientific journal Problemy Polityki Społecznej/Social Policy Issues invites original paper submissions for a special issue to bring together papers exploring a broad array of research questions related to welfare state and social policies in the CEE region.

Journal of Social Policy Issues: Cfp on Special Issue “Welfare state and social policies in the CEE region: past developments, present challenges and prospects for the future”

Deadline: 30 December 2020

University of Warsaw invites to submit original papers to the special issue of Problemy Polityki Społecznej. Social Policy Issues – a peer-reviewed, OPEN ACCESS journal, published by University of Warsaw.

The planned Special Issue “Welfare state and social policies in the CEE region: past developments, present challenges and prospects for the future” aims to bring together papers exploring a broad array of research questions related to welfare state and social policies in the CEE region, that may touch upon past developments, present challenges as well as future prospects. By CEE region we mean a large group of countries including Albania, Belarus, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Czechia, Estonia, Hungary, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Ukraine as well as sub-country regions, e.g. east of Germany.

The best paper submitted to this issue will receive an award of 400 euro. Read more

until 01/06/21: Call for Project Peer Reviewers

The Science Fund of the Republic of Serbia (SFRS) is looking for international experts to ensure a reviewing process of project proposals submitted for funding programs of the SFRS.

The Science Fund of the Republic of Serbia (SFRS): Call for Project Peer Reviewers
The Science Fund of the Republic of Serbia (SFRS), a state institution providing grants to researchers in Serbia, is looking for international experts in order to ensure an objective, high-quality two-stage reviewing process of project proposals submitted for funding programs of the SFRS.
More information on the Details of the Call, including inclusion and assessment criteria, ToR and fees are available at the following link

2020 Updated Reviews: on the European Pillar of Social Rights in the Western Balkans

2020 Updated Reviews: on the European Pillar of Social Rights in the Western Balkans

The European Centre updated the existing reviews on the European Pillar of Social Rights in the Western Balkans: Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, Republic of North Macedonia, and Serbia. The European Centre had already been engaged as international expert organization in the original reviews prepared in 2018. On behalf of the Regional Cooperation Council, the European Centre team was working with country experts and provided quality assurance to ensure that the reports were of high quality, consistent, clear, accurate, sourced, appropriate and timely. Read or download the six reports for 2020 here.

Report: Serbia 2020

Report: Serbia 2020 Report by the European Commission

The European Commission has published 2020 Enlargement Packagew which contains detailed assessment of the state of play in each candidate country and potential candidate, what has been achieved over the last year, and set out guidelines on reform priorities. Read here

Survey: South-East European local Governments Inpost Covid19 Socio-Economic Recovery

Survey: South-East European local Governments Inpost Covid19 Socio-Economic Recovery by NALAS

Within the BACID programme NALAS and KDZ implemented a study on Covid19. 150 mayors and local government representatives havev been interviewed for this study and reveal the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on cities and municipalities in South-East Europe. Also good practices and recommendations for the socio-economic recovery on local level are provided. Read more

Criminal Law Protection of People with Disabilities against Discrimination in the Republic of Serbia

Persons with disabilities in the Republic of Serbia are a very sensitive category that is discriminated against in multiple ways and excluded from the main social aspects. The mechanisms of protecting persons with disabilities, securing equal representation and their complete integration are achieved through adequate legislation and criminal laws, and also special protection in big crisis such as pandemic COVID-19.

Filip Mirić & Aleksandra Nikolajević, University of Niš, Republic of Serbia

For an open and democratic society, it is of crucial importance that all its citizens, regardless of their personal characteristics and features, have a right to education, cultural activities, recreation, access to the labor market, and equality in all segments of social life. Persons with disabilities in the Republic of Serbia are a very sensitive category that is discriminated against in multiple ways and excluded from the main social aspects. The mechanisms of protecting persons with disabilities, securing equal representation and their complete integration are achieved through adequate legislation and criminal laws, and also special protection in big crisis such as pandemic COVID-19.

In the legal system of Republic of Serbia discrimination is a crime. Firstly, we should mention the criminal offense of violation of equality under Article 128 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Serbia (hereinafter referred to as CC). Another important offence envisaged in Article 387 of the Serbian Criminal Code is the criminal offense of racial and other discrimination. The basic form of this criminal offense is committed by anyone who, on the grounds of differences in race, color, religion, nationality, ethnic origin or some other personal characteristic, violates the fundamental human rights and freedoms guaranteed by universally accepted rules of international law and international treaties ratified by Serbia; the perpetrator of such a crime may be punished by a term of imprisonment ranging from six months to five years. Apart from this, there are other forms of the same criminal offense. The same punishment (imprisonment ranging from six months to five years) will be imposed on those who persecute organizations or individuals for their efforts to promote equality.

A number of offences are punished by imprisonment ranging from three months to three years, such as in the case of anyone who spreads ideas about the superiority of one race over another, or propagates racial hatred or incites racial discrimination; anyone who disseminates or otherwise makes public texts, pictures or any other representation of ideas or theories that advocate or encourage hatred, discrimination or violence against any person or group of persons based on race, skin color, religious affiliation, nationality, ethnicity origin or other personal property; and anyone who publicly threatens to commit a criminal offense punishable by imprisonment exceeding four years against a person or a group of persons belonging to a particular race, color, religion, nationality, ethnic origin or other personal property. The criminalization of equality violations from Article 128 CC can be considered as a positive development. Namely, the amendments to the Criminal Code (adopted in 2016) also mention disability as one of the grounds for the violation of equality, which is in compliance with Article 21 of the Constitution of the Republic of Serbia concerning the prohibition of discrimination.

Awareness of persons with disabilities is a very important factor in preventing discrimination in all areas. The results of a study conducted by Filip Mirić in 2019 on the awareness of persons with disabilities about the legal protection mechanisms available to them, show that as many as 70.59% of respondents do not have enough information on criminal protection against discrimination. In addition, the existence of a large percentage of under-informed respondents indicate the need to create active policies to raise awareness about the mechanisms of legal protection of persons with disabilities against discrimination. While the legal framework seems to be complete, it is clear that more needs to be done in terms of awareness raising on the existence and applicability of these laws to protect persons with disabilities and their right to full integration in the Serbian society. The responsibility rests, certainly, on the institutions themselves and the created social policy measures that aim at the social integration and equality of all citizens in Serbia and that can be monitored by the evaluation of established measures and factual indicators of their representation.

An Interactive OnLine Platform for students and Practitioners of Social Work in Serbia and the wider region

At the beginning of April 2020, when we all have got convinced that the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to disrupt even more the environments in which social service users and social care beneficiaries live, and to have several negative consequences for their well-being and protection, the need for united activities of all social actors became imperative.

Slavica Milojevic, FPN KONEKTAS

FPN KonekTaS is an interactive online platform that brings together practitioners, teachers and students of social work and social policy in Serbia to share new theoretical and practical knowledge, professional experiences and dilemmas and strategies for overcoming obstacles caused by COVID 19, but also in their everyday work.

At the beginning of April 2020, when we all have got convinced that the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to disrupt even more the environments in which social service users and social care beneficiaries live, and to have several negative consequences for their well-being and protection, the need for united activities of all social actors became imperative.

Along with information on the scale of the pandemic and its impact on socially vulnerable individuals and groups, information on the additional workload of social services providers in this situation has become evident. Namely, an increased demand put on the professionals in the social welfare system in the current situation to ensure health care and safety at the same time for themselves and for their beneficiaries, made them vulnerable too. In such circumstances, the feeling of helplessness began to spread rapidly and threatened to jeopardize the quality of professional work. This is particularly important within the ongoing efforts and some of the challenges the system and professionals are facing in relation to their already limited resources to perform in a timely and high quality manner.

As expected, adversity brings people together and encourages innovative solutions to overcome the problems that communities are faced with. Proactive approaches to addressing the needs and problems of particularly vulnerable groups have begun to emerge in all sectors and at all levels.

Among the first initiatives that have been raised in order to offer an integrated answer on growing problems caused by COVID-19, was the initiative from the Faculty of Political Science – Department of Social Policy and Social Work in Belgrade.  By gaining insight into the intentions of both students and professors to get involved as volunteers in fighting COVID-19, three social work practice instructors together with professors and associates decided to organize a Voluntary Service.

The starting idea was to invite all students and teachers willing to be engaged in the activities aimed to support social welfare professionals in all the activities addressing problems caused by the pandemic. Due to the circumstances of the pandemic, it was decided to organize an online resource, which will offer information and opportunities for volunteering in accordance with all the social work professional principles as well as other aspects of maintaining personal and collective health security.

The idea was widely supported, and so FPN KonekTaS was established in collaboration with UNICEF and with the financial support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

The very first activity was conducting a survey to get insights into the needs of communities of practitioners in the social protection system for necessary services in an unprecedented situation. The survey results have shown the common need for stronger cooperation among all of us involved in social welfare in Serbia. A mapping of local initiatives created in response to the pandemic followed, and all relevant services and contacts were posted on the platform. Meanwhile, social work students have been engaged in continuous needs assessment for psycho-social and other support for social service workforce during the pandemic.

The data obtained through the survey, mapping and interviews with colleagues in the field, indicated that practitioners need to connect with other colleagues, to discuss current issues related to the pandemic, to learn from the experience of others, to hear the results of research, to get acquainted with the latest research, to get familiar with best practices, and to access maps of newly established services that arise in response to the urgent needs of particularly vulnerable social groups. And, most importantly, there was a need for concrete materials for practical and rapid use. Accordingly, we all quickly realized, that social care practitioners in the whole region are faced with similar problems and have a strong need to connect with colleagues from other countries, especially with those speaking the same language and having common professional backgrounds.

That is how the FPN KonekTaS, driven by the needs of a social workers’ community that is online and offline began to grow rapidly from a volunteering platform to a digital destination where social care practitioners in the social welfare system, the academic community and students of social work and social policy can meet and network with colleagues, can ask and get peer support, where they can share ideas and  experiences, and where they can be safe and professionally protected.

Since its beginning in April till the end of July 2020, the FPN KonekTaS platform has gathered over 850 contributors from Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro and North Macedonia, and organized 8 webinars, 5 regional meetings, 10 supervision meetings and 20 discussion groups on the platform. The topics were conceptually oriented towards “helping helpers” and from the beginning they were a response to their originally examined needs. In this sense, the topics covered a wide range of needs: from specific techniques of personal mental health care in stressful situations, through the possibility of emergency care due to domestic violence during the COVID-19 crisis up to webinars on the role of the Red Cross during the COVID-19 crisis. The number of realized interactive activities in these circumstances seems impressive, but the development processes that followed them are actually an occasion for learning and articulating new models.

As resource for practical use for all, there are printable materials posted on the platform, including translations from different sources, such as IFSW Europe – International Federation of Social Workers, EASSW — European Association of Schools of Social Work, The Global Social Service Workforce Alliance, National Bank, etc, as well as different materials of  practical use authored by colleagues from Serbia and the neighbouring countries.

Convinced that we are connected by common goals that guide us in the education of social workers and that our academic activities contribute to improving the competencies and professional credibility of social workers, thus improving the quality of professional work and the quality of services we provide, we are inviting both students and professionals across the region and beyond to cooperate within the joint activities which we organize online through the FPN KonekTaS platform.

To get involved in already planned events or suggest new activities that we could implement together, to the satisfaction of all of us and in the interest of our users, contact us at  konektas@fpn.bg.ac.rs

You can also share information with your students, social work practitioners and teachers: http://www.fpn.bg.ac.rs/konektas.

Closed: 15/10/2020 EaSI call: Supporting people in vulnerable situations

This call for proposals aims to support existing or new partnerships in testing innovative approaches supporting in particular the delivery of Principle 14 of the European Pillar of Social Rights.

EaSI call: Establishing and testing integrated interventions aimed at supporting people in (the most) vulnerable situations, Deadline: 15 October 2020

This call for proposals aims to support existing or new partnerships in testing innovative approaches supporting in particular the delivery of Principle 14 of the European Pillar of Social Rights.

The call will support innovative and experimental local/regional-level projects aimed at putting in place comprehensive strategies, mechanisms and services ensuring a holistic approach to support people in (the most) vulnerable situations.

EESPN countries that can participate in the call include EU Member States, Albania, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia.

The deadline for the call is: 15 October 2020.

Please read the details here