The Campaign on Social Rights was initiated by the Regional Cooperation Council’s (RCC) Employment and Social Affairs Platform 2 (ESAP 2) Project in September 2020. It is based on the European Pillar of Social Rights and findings on the implementation in six Western Balkan economies as complied in the ‘Regional Overview of Western Balkan Economies Regarding the European Pillar of Social Rights’, prepared by ESAP 2.

Regional Overview of Western Balkan Economies Regarding the European Pillar of Social Rights, based on six national reports from Western Balkan economies, shows that important Social Rights challenges exist in many areas, one of them being access to labour market and equal opportunities. Only 1 in 3 citizens aged 20-64 does not participate in the labour market, but women are much more likely to remain inactive (more than 46% of them). The employment rate for the age group 20-64 reached an all-time high of 59.1% in 2019, compared to 49.5% in 2012. While the increase in employment has been impressive, it falls short of 73.9% of the EU-28 in 2019 and 75% employment target of the EU 2020 Strategy.

The campaign compares results from European Union Member States in several important indicators of the Social Rights Pillar with those of the Western Balkan economies, aiming to raise awareness on the concept of social rights altogether and their importance for quality of living for societies by pointing out areas in which improvements in the region are needed.
Inequality in the Western Balkans is high: the ratio of the average income of the richest 20% of the population to the average income of the poorest 20% of the population ranges between 6.2 and 8.6, higher than the 5.2 average in the EU. It disproportionately affects women, youth, Roma and persons with disabilities and these issues should be addressed as a matter of priority.

The European Pillar of Social Rights is a relatively new initiative, endorsed at the end of 2017 at the European Social Summit for Fair Jobs and Growth. It has re-affirmed at a high political level its 20 principles that span across the areas of equal opportunities and access to the labour market, fair working conditions and social protection and inclusion.

ESAP 2 will continue its work on Social Rights modelled on the European Pillar in the upcoming years as well as on promotion of the results achieved both in the region and the EU, aiming to make Western Balkan societies a home of #GoodBetterEqual!