Towards European integration of the Balkans: social dialogue as an engine for the new social cohesion

On 17 and 19 February 2016 in Split, Croatia, with the support of EZA and of the European Union, MCL / EFAL (Movimento Cristiano Lavoratori / Ente Nazionale per la Formazione e l'Addestramento dei Lavoratori) held an international seminar on "Towards European integration of the Balkans: social dialogue as an engine for the new social cohesion". The seminar was part of the EZA special project for workers' organisations in the Western Balkans.

The seminar was attended by 26 representatives of workers’ organisations from Italy, Albania, Montenegro, Croatia, Austria, Bosnia-Herzegovina (as guests) and Slovenia.

The discussion focused on the difficulties of the companies that still live the consequences of the economic crisis and of the war that dissolved the former Yugoslavia. The Candidate Countries are still struggling to implement the European standards and one of the greatest difficulties still shows the highest public level of corruption and organized crime.

Young people, at the end of the studies, are forced by the situation, to emigrate: Great Britain and Germany are the reference pin.

In the business world the practice of undeclared work remains one of the rocks and even more when you find a legal job often the practice of pre-signing blank resignations takes into consideration that sometimes are substantially different from the official ones.

Freedom of the press and expression cannot be compared to EU countries. Civil society supports the integration process even if the difficulties persist.

In Albania the difficulties are different from those present in Montenegro; Social Dialogue appears to be considerably more practiced and negotiations with employers and the government take place in full respect of the parties.

In Tirana the Social dialogue is a priority and is already being exercised within the legal norms of the European perspective. Decent working conditions in the public sector and in the private sector have a priority.

The tripartite dialogue is the frame and also to the process of revision of the Labour Code.

In the sectors of Agriculture, Environment and Tourism discussions were opened on the dismissal and often employers seek to flout the laws.

Knowledge of workers’ rights is generally good although persists the formula favour and clientele that employers use to have social peace within their activities.

The debate, in-depth and concrete while recording the limits of the democratic process that proceeds with substantial difficulties, beyond the form, pointed out that the role of civil society focus on social dialogue - and all of its European units - the development center of the countries and for the construction of a real new social cohesion. Without work there is no growth in the Western Balkans.

Different, and much heavier, the situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Croatia and Slovenia have also highlighted the changes and social evolution developed after the EU integration.


1.    The company has changed and is changing rapidly:

-Remain strong the need to improve the conditions of workers.

-It is a duty to improve the skills with more vocational training and with more safeguards.

2. We must strengthen the social policies:

-All together!

-To promote more civil and social democratic participation.

3. The social dialogue is important and inter-religious.

4. The Social Dialogue is on the agenda:

-It has to be decided together how to implement.

5. Look to social cohesion, trying to understand the changes taking place.

6. No to an economy that grows only to distribute.

7. It is the economy that delivers economic growth.

8. Strengthening togetherness associated.

Basically also states must do their part. They serve deep internal reforms, which were newly independent often take the form of a real exercise of member state-building, in order to build the institutions and capacity to act as an EU member state.

The risk is that the long stasis of the "waiting room" European end up prolonging the difficulties still faced by the euro area countries, including persistent internal tensions and complex regional détente processes (as in the case of the recent political crises in the FYR of Macedonia and Montenegro, and the gradual normalization of relations between Serbia and Kosovo), as well as the difficult institution, in order to address the socio-economic challenges of the region and to combat corruption and organized crime ( as in the case of Bosnia and Albania). The refugee crisis along the "Balkan route" of recent months has added another critical factor in a regional context also demonstrating an obvious interdependence between the EU countries and the Western Balkans and marked by multiple fragilities.