Programme of the Launch Event
‘Building Bridges in Social Welfare Policy in Eastern Europe’

19 September 2016, Amedia Hotel, 1030 Vienna, Landstraßer Hauptstraße 155

Download the Agenda as PDF-File

Registration and Welcome Coffee
Opening by
  • Marc Pointecker, Federal Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Consumer (BMASK)
  • Thomas Bender, European Commission, DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion
  • Kai Leichsenring, European Centre for Social Welfare Policy and Research
Room "Qualtinger"
The Social Dimension of Building Bridges: Policy debate on linking East and West, the economy and the society and research, practice and policy-making
Participants include:
  • Vjekoslav Čamber, Office of the EU Integration of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Davor Dominkuš, Slovenian Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities and Board Member of the European Centre for Social Welfare Policy and Research
  • Galina Poliakova, Ukrainian Charity Organisation “Turbota pro Litnih v Ukraini” (Age Concern Ukraine)
  • Alexandre Sidorenko, Senior Advisor of the European Centre for Social Welfare Policy and Research and formerly United Nations Secretariat in New York
  • Robert Stehrer, wiiw-The Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies, Austria

Moderated by Anette Scoppetta, European Centre for Social Welfare Policy and Research

Room "Qualtinger"
Coffee Break

2 parallel sessions

Inputs by:
  • When active is passive: Conditional cash transfers and employment creation in Macedonia by Maja Gerovska Mitev more

    The paper aims to explore specifics related to extension of the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) programme in Macedonia towards supporting young unemployed from households that are social assistance beneficiaries. The programme itself presents a continuum of active labour market (ALM) efforts that provide direct financial support as a form of activation of unemployed in the country. In this respect, the paper challenges the role of direct financial transfers (micro-credits, self-employment, subsidized employments) in the socio-economic context in which there is a low economic growth, high level of informal economy and low educational level of the unemployed workforce. In such circumstances, providing direct financial transfers, as a form of activation, does not guarantee improved employability, trained workforce or secure employment. Existing studies also suggest that application of such measures “must overcome considerable difficulties and obstacles in a region marked by labour informality and unequal access to opportunities” (ECLAC/ILO, 2014). Also, available evidence shows that “improving the labour inclusion of people with low educational levels is a long-term effort in which beneficiaries require constant psychosocial support, and that the difficulties are even greater for women, youth and persons belonging to indigenous peoples (OAS/ECLAC/ILO, 2011). The paper is organized in three parts. The first part presents a conceptual insight into the existing conditional cash transfer programmes in the world, and provides evidence about their success in the field of employment. The second part gives details about recent ALM programmes in Macedonia, with particular emphasis on “passive transfers” directed towards vulnerable unemployed (long-term unemployed, social assistance beneficiaries, etc.). The final part gives overview of potential risks and threats related to use of CCT and similar financial transfers and provides recommendations for their improved targeting. close

  • Challenges of graduates in transition to labour market in Albania by Merita Xhumari more

    This paper analysis the challenges faced by the graduates in transition to the labour market. The unemployment of the labour force with a university degree in Albania has reached 17.2% in 2014, compared to 15.6% in 2013. The graduates with a Bachelor degree have to continue the Master level of studies, as they face difficulties in finding employment. In the last ten years, the number of graduates has increased three times, whereas the labour market policies and those of the universities for facilitating the transition of graduates to the labour market are missing at all. The entrepreneurship skills of the graduates, which are necessary for taking initiatives in a labour market structure dominated by self-employment, are weakest. The labour market demand for qualified labour force is increased in the most dynamic sectors of economy as energetic, mining, agriculture, manufactures and services. Whereas the Higher Education Institutions are offering a limited supply of study programs and graduates in such fields of study, remaining oversupply in humanities. Methodologically, in order to understand the challenges of the unemployed with higher education in the labour market, several instruments have been used: analysis of data on higher education, the Labour Force Survey and the System of National Accounts; semi-structured interviews with representatives of universities, government, social partners and graduates; and a focus group with the ERASMUS+ alumni. The study findings answer the questions: What are the labour market developments and the challenges that graduates face at the point of entry in the labour market? What are the factors that lead to a successful transition of graduates into the labour market? The conclusions and recommendations are regarding to the quality standards of higher education, the career development orientation of students and to the employment services for facilitating the graduate’s integration in the labour market. close

  • Kosovo’s welfare state in a democratization context: The role of political participation and institutions’ performance by Artan Mustafa more

    The paper examines welfare state spending relation with political participation and institutions performance, in the context of democratization. It focuses on the case study of Kosovo during the period 2000-2016 and is informed from the legacy during the period under former-Yugoslavia as well as regional experiences. Welfare state spending includes cash and other benefits towards different structures of society which are usually considered more prone to risk. It consists of three main parts. Part one, describes welfare state spending in Kosovo in detail, from the perspective of established welfare state typologies. It describes: eligibility for benefits, manner of financing, benefit levels etc. The second part examines the relation between welfare state and political participation. Political participation means participation in elections, political parties, protests, contacts with officials etc. The study shows, for example, how welfare state benefiters’ organization in their own associations, support of major political parties in elections, contacting officials and protestation is translated in welfare state size and targets. The third part examines the relation between welfare state benefits and institutions’ performance. The aim is to understand the outcomes of welfare policies in terms of tampering poverty, inequality, social conflict etc., and to also understand, on the other hand, the impact of corruption, particularism and other forms of absence of rule of law on the performance of welfare state and the views of its benefiters towards institutions. All of these elements are important conditions for democratization / democracy. Kosovo is a democracy by constitution, but different indexations classify it as a semi-authoritarian regime. Methodologically, it is an in-depth case study informed from theory and literature based on empirical data. Main theoretical framework include: Power Recourse Theory [Korpi & Palme 1998, Esping-Andersen 1990 etc], Quality of Government theory [Rothstein 2012, Mungiu-Pippidi 2006 etc], Emergent welfare states and post-communist welfare states of Eastern Europe [Stubbs & Zrinščak 2009, Cook 2010, Stambolieva 2015, Cocozzelli 2007 etc]. close

Chair: Lucia Mýtna Kureková, European Centre for Social Welfare Policy and Research

Room "Qualtinger"
Inputs by:
  • Borderland's crossroads. Ukrainian split-households as factor of survival or empowering strategies by Scialdone Antonello more

    Even if scholars miss official data, some estimates actually calculate in 7 millions the amount of migrants coming from Ukraine: approximately one third of working age population. After independence this country has become the major supplier of migrant labour to Europe (increasingly gender-specific, regarding especially women employed in care services by Southern Europe families); and despite of the lack of interest of government due to institutional crisis, Ukraine holds after India and Mexico the third place in the world for quantity of remittances, which effectively guarantees survival opportunities for many households. Also in Moldova remittances from abroad have the same relevance, for what concerns social impact and incidence on income (more than 1/3 of GDP). But representations of migratory experience in the sending countries reveal characteristics of stigmatization, often linked to the emergence of social problems in transnational families (“Euro-orphans”, Italian syndrome etc.). This paradox can be connected with the contradictory impact of the rhetorics of local ethnos and traditional motherhood used during last two decades by political and intellectual elites in search of a post-Soviet and antirussian identity. A number of nation-building imagery and foundational myths have been collected –and somehow invented- especially in Ukraine. In this framework, the construction of sacred images of motherhood is crucial because woman’s responsibility inside the family echoes and generates the care for the whole nation. The paper aims to compare different approaches linked to these problems. Thus, a review of literature (including studies of anthropologists, historians, economists, political scientists which have studied society, culture and labour market of the ‘new’ East) is related to analysis of transnational families and gender issues, trying to define original paths towards work-life balance for mobile mothers and children left behind. close

  • 'Lack of strategy is a strategy!' On the governmental recruitment of (health)care workers from Eastern Europe to the European Economic Area by Mojca Vah Jevšnik more

    The paper is concerned with outlining governmental recruitment of migrant (health)care workers for employment in the public healthcare sectors of some EEA states, particularly Norway and the UK. It has by now become evident that the projected deficits of healthcare workers in many EEA states are significant. Demand is not only due to an increased need for healthcare and social care services in the coming years, but also due to retirement and high turn-over rates of the healthcare labour. In Norway, it is predicted that over 40.000 nurses will leave their jobs up to 2022 and that simultaneously the demand for nursing and care giving will increase by more than 50% from 2010 to 2030. In the UK, the demand will also continue to grow. The Royal College of GPs has estimated that by 2021 there could be 16,000 fewer GPs than are needed, while the Royal College of Nursing has forecast a shortfall of over 47,000 nurses by 2016 and 100,000 by 2022, as more nurses retire or emigrate to work abroad and fewer would be nurses start training. On the declarative level, many EEA countries strive towards healthcare labour sustainability. But lack of strategic planning and lack of enthusiasm to invest in healthcare workforce training and education, coupled with continuous recruitment from abroad, indicates that reliance on migrant healthcare workers is likely to become a path dependency and a convenient cost-containment measure. What does that mean for the Eastern European countries, which are increasingly being targeted for recruitment in the absence of bilateral agreements that would mitigate the adverse effects associated with emigration? The paper present some findings from the Delphi study conducted in the UK and Norway. close

  • E-subsystem of medical and social expertise and rehabilitation (TSERAS) in Azerbaijan by Yalchin Muslumov more

    Azerbaijan inherited the old soviet system of medical and social expertise with the rigid bureaucratic rules and procedures, bribery and corruption that was a great burden for people with disabilities that were already in need. In September 2015 the President of Azerbaijan issued a Decree with the purpose to improve the quality of medical, social and rehabilitation services through more efficient and expansive use of modern information technologies. With this regard, the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection of the Republic of Azerbaijan developed and established a new solution: the subsystem of medical and social expertise and rehabilitation called TSERAS as part of the centralized information system. Starting from September 2015 the Ministry has been implementing the new subsystem around the country. Implementation of TSERAS enabled to minimize contact of the citizens with officials, ensuring transparent environment for medical and social examinations. The solution allows citizens to apply online for the assessment of disability as well as providing full automation of definition of disability. Citizens applying for a study on disability is not requested any documents to prove a disease. Relevant information is obtained in an electronic order from an electronic database of the relevant government institution. The results of all disability and limited capabilities examinations are included in TSERAS in real-time. Citizens also can obtain this information on through e-service over the E-Government. Thus, a user can present excerpt on the results of expertise conducted in the MSEC for determining his (her) disability to the organization required in the form of an electronic reference confirming his (her) disability or can send in electronic form, by getting in the form of pdf. The organizations where the reference is presented have the opportunity to verify the reliability of the reference over E-Government portal through the relevant authentication code in the document. The system also automatically tracks the duration of different categories of disability. This has made it no longer necessary for some 200,000 people to undergo medical examination every year, which has also contributed to minimizing the relations between government officials and citizens. Citizens can get information on their diagnostic results, group of disability assigned and the date of repeat examination in interactive mode through 142 Call centre. The solution can be replicated in any country in need to simplify and modernize the system of medical and social expertise. close

Chair: Ricardo Rodrigues, European Centre for Social Welfare Policy and Research

Room "Doderer"
Lunch Break

2 parallel sessions

Inputs by:
  • Opportunities and barriers at the transition from education to work. A comparative youth study in Azerbaijan, Georgia and Tajikistan by Irina Badurashvili more

    Georgia, a country characterized by an aging population with a high incidence of poverty and limited public financial resources, offers virtually complete non-contributory basic pension coverage. The basic pension has, to date, proved effective in dealing with poverty arising from political instability, military conflicts, economic deterioration, transition to a market economy, emigration of its younger population, and aging. But Georgia’s fiscal constraints and aging population also highlight the importance of developing and improving the pension system, in order to ensure its sustainability. The presented paper is based on the findings of the desk-research implemented in the frame of project “Opportunities and Barriers at the Transition from Education to Work. A Comparative Youth Study in Azerbaijan, Georgia and Tajikistan” supported by the Volkswagen foundation. close

  • Reducing child poverty in Serbia by Jelena Žarković Rakić more

    In Serbia, 30% of children are estimated to be at-risk-of-poverty which is much higher than average 19% found across the European Union countries. The proposed research use the most recent data from 2013 Survey of Income and Living Conditions (SILC) to assess coverage and targeting of two major benefit programs in Serbia, child allowance and social assistance programme, and provide policy proposals to improve benefits` performance aiming to reduce child poverty. Additionally, bearing in mind the fact that all countries with low child poverty rates combine effective social transfers with low levels of family joblessness, the objective of this paper is to assess the extent to which child poverty can also be reduced by policy reform options which increase parental employment. Our results indicate that improved targeting and coverage performance of child allowance can be achieved by better inspection of informal income and its inclusion in the means test of benefit recipients. This could reduce budgetary expenditures going to not-so-poor households, thus, enabling the increase of the current benefit amounts and lead to reduction of child poverty in the short run. Effects on parental employment in the longer run, however, could be negative. On the other hand, reduction of social assistance benefit withdrawal rate would have positive effects on the labour participation of parents. And although day after effects on child poverty reduction of this reform scenario are quite limited, budgetary effects range from a 12% to almost 80% surge in expenditures, when benefit withdrawal rate is reduced to 0.5 and 0.25, respectively. close

  • Distribution of wealth and social welfare policies in Bosnia and Hercegovina by Adisa Omerbegović and Adis Arapović more

    Unequal distribution of wealth is one of the main outcomes of transition period in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The current social aid system is not based on wealth status, which is incompatible with an aim of tackling issues such as unequal distribution of wealth and negative effects that this has in terms of social cohesion. Better targeting of the aid is the first systematic step needed in order to prevent further social disintegration. We review the ways that targeting of social policy is performed in societies that perform better in terms of distribution of wealth (more equality) and those that perform worse in terms of inequality. We argue that countries of Central and Eastern Europe could benefit from Western European tradition of democratization of capitalism through creation of Wealth Registers. We further explore what would be concrete policy implications of such a move for social welfare policies in the current Bosnian context. close

Chair: Anette Scoppetta, European Centre for Social Welfare Policy and Research

Room "Qualtinger"
Inputs by:
  • Managing circular migration in Kosovo – a good practice by Michael Sauer and Selatin Kllokoqi more

    If labour migration is appropriately and equitably managed, it can unfold mutual benefits for individuals, and the countries of origin and destination. The Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare (MLSW) grasps the complexity of circular migration with a holistic bottom-up approach which comprises inter-institutional, multi-profession and multi-level perspectives. The MLSW is about to establish the Kosovo Care Platform (KosCaP) aiming at sharing information, cooperation and mutual learning. As the KosCaP addresses migration related questions in regards to employability, labour migration/Diaspora management and health/social service sector development, a wide range of stakeholders need to be incorporated in the initiative. Hence, the main challenge is stakeholder participation and coordination in order to make the KosCaP the central hub for exchanging information to all related aspects on circular migration in the field of social/health care services for interested stakeholders. The initiators of the KosCaP are convinced that 1) circular migration is a social process which involves many stakeholders from multiple disciplines on multiple levels; 2) a bottom up approach is preferable to a one size fits all approach; 3) participation in the KosCaP must be voluntarily; 4) KosCaP must not be cost-intensive; 5) KosCaP can facilitate multiple wins; and 6) KosCaP follows a step-by-step, try and error rather than a big bang approach. Triggered by related experiences of the MLSW and the Southeast Europe Institute for Advancement in Health and Nursing, the two institutions decided to develop an initiative for a more holistic and circular approach towards labour migration in the field of health/social care services. Recently, the Society of Albanian Academics has joined the organisers. At the first brainstorming workshop in May 2016, 20 institutions participated and announced their further involvement in developing the KosCaP. close

  • Medicine information needs of patients in Armenia by Margarit Melikyan more

    Reliable medicine information is important not only for physicians and pharmacists, but also for patients. However, the results of studies implemented in some countries show that patients may have slightly different needs and preferences in using sources of information. The main objective of patient medicines information is assisting consumers to achieve safe and effective use of pharmaceuticals. OBJECTIVE: To identify patients` needs in medicine information and sources they use to receive it. METHODS: We interviewed 1059 people who had visited community pharmacies in 10 regions of Armenia and Yerevan. Previously developed questionnaire was used for interviewing patients. Statistical analysis was conducted using SPSS program. RESULTS: 68.9% of respondents often use medicines only if necessary information is available. The majority of them believe that it is important to have information about therapeutic indications of pharmaceuticals to be used (91.8%), their dosage and method of administration (91.1%), contraindications (82.4%), adverse reactions (81.9%) and the simultaneous use of multiple medicines (76.5%). 58.9% of consumers value information about medicine`s price. More than 70% of patients often seek information from health professionals and use medicines package information leaflets, and more than 75% of respondents mainly trust the same sources. 71.5% of respondents read package leaflets, while 42.0% of consumers do this several times. Only 36.7% of respondents completely understand information in a leaflet. CONCLUSIONS: Patients need medicine information. They prefer to receive information from sources they trust. Many patients do not understand the content of package information leaflets due to barriers, which can be removed by introducing appropriate regulatory provisions for their content and readability. Policy recommendations were developed for local decision-makers. close

  • Measuring wellbeing of elderly population: Comparative study of the East by Radoslaw Antczak
  • DLot project - disability leaders of tomorrow by Franz Wolfmayr more

    The Disability Leaders of Tomorrow (D-LoT) project aims to foster innovation and build the capacity of the disability service providers in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). D-LoT brings forth the crucial need of supporting professionals from the service provision sector in promoting and coordinating real and sustainable change in service delivery in CEE countries. Through an innovative mentoring training programme, the project will implement practical and customised support to professionals in service providing organisations on how to apply the paradigm shift as embodied in the UN CRPD principles in their specific environment and daily practice. By addressing the specific reality of CEE countries, the project will thus support, enhance and strengthen the role of service providers as human rights enablers by achieving the following objectives: o Increasing the knowledge of UN CRPD and the innovation process in the disability service provision through tailored e-learning and face-to-face training. o Increasing the capacity of service providers for implementing models of good practice and sustainable development through country-specific mentoring schemes, such as job shadowing and specific projects to pass on the acquired knowledge. o Increasing the know-how and cooperation among disability organisation at local, national and European level by establishing a cross-border network of disability service provision trainers. close

Chair: Kai Leichsenring, European Centre for Social Welfare Policy and Research

Room "Doderer"
Coffee Break
Networking session on innovative approaches for project development

Participatory methods will be used to enable networking and building the ground for collaborative project proposals

Moderated by the Chairs of Sessions

Room "Qualtinger" and "Doderer"
Wrap up and Closing by Thomas Bender, European Commission, DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion and Susanne Keindl, Austrian Federal Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Consumer Protection (BMASK)
Room "Qualtinger"
Dinner on invitation of the Austrian Federal Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Consumer Protection

Inigo, 1st District, Vienna, Bäckerstraße 18