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Nicolas Marquier, Regional Manager for the Western Balkans at the International Finance Corporation (IFC)

Financing the Future

IFC, the largest global development institution, has provided almost $1 billion in financing to Serbia’s private sector over the past six years IFC, as a...

Dr Ivan Todorović, Todorović Law Firm

Dedicated Advisors and Tenacious Litigators

The Todorović Law Firm has existed for more than 30 years and throughout that time has demonstrated its unwavering dedication to continuously advancing at...

Marija Stojiljković, Founder, Royal Nanny

Children Deserve the Best Nannies

Royal Nanny offers a wide range of childcare services, primarily through mediating between professional nannies and families, providing responsible, meticulous, trained and caring individuals Starting...

Petar Miljković, CEO, 14. Oktobar d.o.o.

Employees are the Company’s Real Strength

This former Kruševac giant, which has come a long way over the course of 100 years of operations, developing from a construction machinery factory...

Ivana Bogdanović, Director of Marketing and Corporate Communications at Addiko Bank

CSR as a Longstanding Priority

In today’s world, where gaining the trust of clients is the most important aspect of a company’s business, CSR, or socially responsible operations, represents...

Čedanka Andrić, President of Trade Union Confederation NEZAVISNOST

Increased Competition Between Low-Paid Workers

Considering educational qualification and unemployment structures in Serbia, my opinion is that this measure could only increase the pressure on workers in Serbia to accept lower paying jobs

I don’t have high expectations when it comes to the establishing of free access to the labour market in the Western Balkans. It could – for now only in theory – improve the availability of required workers in the economies of these countries, increase worker mobility and lead to increasing the region’s attractiveness to potential investors (due to the larger market). It could potentially also increase economic cooperation between the countries and resistance against the emergence of possible new global crises.

Given the labour market structure of the three countries, it’s highly unlikely that this measure will help reduce the labour shortage problem. By observing the basic macroeconomic indicators of the three countries, it can be concluded that they all lack domestic investments and suffer from large foreign trade deficits, the brain-drain and high youth unemployment. With Serbia leading the way, all three countries primarily base their economic development and drive to reduce unemployment on foreign investors, who are unfortunately attracted by cheap labour. Practice shows labour shortages being increasingly resolved through the arrival of workers from third countries and a more liberal approach to their employment. Serbia issued more than 50,000 work permits to foreigners in 2023 alone, but very few of those foreigners came from the two Open Balkan neighbours or other Western Balkan countries, which only confirms my previous statement.

Serbia issued more than 50,000 work permits to foreigners in 2023 alone, but very few of those foreigners came from the two Open Balkan neighbours or other Western Balkan countries

Countries that have lower earnings and a less developed labour market should potentially benefit the most from labour market liberalisation. In the Open Balkan’s specific case, that means Albania, followed by North Macedonia. However, considering the potential overall effects of this initiative, and especially taking trade volumes into consideration, Serbia could potentially achieve the best macroeconomic results, but these results can’t be significant either, given the volume of exports to these two countries. Analysis of the economies of the region leads to the conclusion that all of the observed countries are highly dependent on imports, primarily sourced from the EU, and that their initial position for creating positive effects from labour market liberalisation isn’t great in this field either.

Considering educational qualification and unemployment structures in Serbia, my opinion is that this measure could only increase the pressure on workers in Serbia to accept lower paying jobs (in the case that they lack opportunities to find work in other, more developed countries) and that this will create even greater competition between workers coming from other underdeveloped countries, those coming from these two countries and “domestic” workers.

An electronic system will control all those receiving an “Open Balkan ID No.”, meaning that there are no work permits or any other certificates. As to whether these measures could prove effective in protecting the labour rights of these workers, the answer is a resounding no, because they only grant equal rights on paper, while we are witnessing the daily violating of numerous rights of domestic and foreign workers in Serbia, and these measures can’t resolve that in and of themselves.

Comment by Zoran Panović

Diplomatic Twine

German politician Markus Söder promised to support Serbia on its EU journey. According to the German media, Söder is making “diplomatic twine” in his...

Branka Anđelković, Co-founder and Programme Director of the Public Policy Research Centre

An Even Bigger Grey Market?

In the case of workers of the platform employed in food production and passenger transport, the Open Balkan initiative might not contribute to the...

Jelena Jevtović, Serbian Association of Employers

Employers Will More Quickly Find Workers

The employing of citizens of these two countries in Serbia could ease the labour shortage problem, but fundamentally resolving it requires education system reform It...

Mario Reljanović, Research Associate at the Institute of Comparative Law

Emigration to the EU will Continue

I don’t have particularly high expectations when it comes to the establishing of free access to the labour market in the Western Balkans. I...

Albania to Utilize Drones in Anti-Cannabis Campaign

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Serbian Red Cross Launches Pioneering Migration Platform

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Ghana to Open Embassy in Belgrade

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Maserati’s Balkan Expansion: New Showroom Opens in Belgrade

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Serbia Charts the Course to Smart Cities with Kragujevac Leading the Way

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Maserati’s Balkan Expansion: New Showroom Opens in Belgrade

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Peter Pellegrini Wins Slovak Presidential Election

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Strategic Energy Partnership Established Between Serbia and France

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Serbia-France Innovation Forum Begins: Innovate for the Planet! Play Green!

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EU and EP Finalise €6 Billion Support for Western Balkans

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Maserati’s Balkan Expansion: New Showroom Opens in Belgrade

Delta Auto Group has unveiled an exclusive Maserati showroom in Belgrade, setting new luxury benchmarks in line with the...

Peter Pellegrini Wins Slovak Presidential Election

Peter Pellegrini, the candidate from the ruling coalition, won the second round of the presidential elections in Slovakia, securing...

Strategic Energy Partnership Established Between Serbia and France

The Serbian Government adopted a Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of Serbia and French Electric Power Company (EDF),...

Serbia-France Innovation Forum Begins: Innovate for the Planet! Play Green!

At the Serbia-France Innovation Forum titled 'Innovate for the Planet, Play Green', which commenced at the Palace Serbia, French...

EU and EP Finalise €6 Billion Support for Western Balkans

The European Parliament and the Council of the European Union have finalised a deal to provide an additional six...
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