Criticism about of the social dimension of the EU's enlargement policy is common in Western Balkan societies. Enlargement policy over the past years has prioritized the creation of functioning market economies' and supply-side skill acquisition strategies. Social issues, in contrast, have not been on the top of the agenda. Recent FES research found that social exclusion remains widespread – citizens' political, economic and social participation is inadequate. Last year, the European Commission published a new enlargement strategy for the Western Balkans announcing, “a new reinforced social dimension”. Its delivery was foreseen in the realms of employment, education, and healthcare. Placing increased emphasis on social matters is good news in a region affected by significant economic and social inequalities. But will this pledge materialize?
On behalf of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung and IRIS network, we kindly invite you to participate in an expert roundtable on enlargement, social inclusion policies and migration related challenges in the Western Balkans.