EZA special project for workers' organisations in the Western Balkans

The countries of the Western Balkans have started to stabilize and to improve their relationships with the EU, and some of them are aiming for membership as a long-term objective. Employee organizations from the region, meanwhile, are establishing ever denser networks with partner organizations inside the EU. For the past few years, EZA has actively assisted this development. Many EZA members, over their long history of relationships with partners from the Western Balkans region, have discovered that the Social Dialogue in these countries is often unstructured and poorly developed. This is why EZA has decided since its educational year 2012/2013 to do everything it can to strengthen the Social Dialogue in this region, treating this policy as one of its most urgent priorities in a special project.

The aim is to provide a forum for the exchange of experiences with the Social Dialogue on many different levels, actively involving both countries from the Western Balkans region and EU member states. On the basis of these discussions, strategies will be developed to create and strengthen stable structures of the regional Social Dialogue that reflect the approaches taken elsewhere in Europe, discussing and promoting European values and developing the skills that are required to engage in such a dialogue. All this will help to create, strengthen and enhance an awareness for strategies and solutions that reflect the spirit of social partnership. 

Different types of Öffnet internen Link im aktuellen Fenstereducational events – seminars and working group sessions – will analyze the situation of employees in the Western Balkans, focusing on the industries that are involved, industrial relations and the strategies and approaches of the social partners, government agencies and other actors. The current challenges will be identified, solutions will be developed, and strategies for their implementation will be discussed. Employee organizations from the Western Balkans will be brought into contact with partner organizations from the EU countries, while it is also intended to promote the development of intra-regional networks. The organizations will also be provided with information about the Social Dialogue, the values and techniques of social partnership as well as the existing rights of employees in the EU (specifically the freedom of association and the privileges of trade unions).

Finally, issues such as collective bargaining negotiations, occupational health and safety, vocational education and employment policies will also be discussed. The events will be attended by participants from the Western Balkan countries and from the EU member states.

This project embodies the ideas of European unity and solidarity: for one, in its active promotion of European values, and for another in its attempt to engineer the creation and continuous improvement of networks between employee organizations from the Western Balkans and partner organizations in the EU member states.

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