As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread and government responses are hopefully proportionately, tightening, we would like to draw your attention to the state of social systems throughout Southeast Europe, particularly in the region's Non-EU member states. While differences in response to the subsequent effects of the pandemic are beginning to show, it is increasingly clear that this crisis will become a test for European solidarity as well.
Some European economies are likely to profit from their social systems’ ‘automatic stabilizers’. Short-time work allowances and paid sick leave should protect workers and their jobs. At the same time, businesses will be kept afloat with credit assistance, guarantees, tax deferrals and additional benefits for the self-employed. In comparison, shutdowns in the Western Balkan countries are likely to hit citizens much harder. It is to be feared that the layoffs we are starting to see in the retail and hospitality sectors are just a prelude to what we should expect to happen in countries with social systems that offer less universal protection.
Featuring voices from experts and policymakers, this edition of Political Trends & Dynamics in Southeast Europe initially focused on analyzing the “Social Dimension of Enlargement Policy”. With the current global health emergency in full swing, we think an even broader perspective on the state of welfare in Southeast Europe and the relations among EU Members and the Non-Member States in this regard may be useful.