RCC ESAP 2: Western Balkan Enforcement Authorities Address Challenges of Under-declared Work

29 September 2023

Regional Workshop on Under-declared Work/envelope wages - Family photo (Photo: RCC/Henri Koçi)

Regional Workshop on Under-declared Work/envelope wages - Family photo (Photo: RCC/Henri Koçi)

Tirana – Under-declared work/envelope wages was a topic for discussion of the enforcement authorities from the Western Balkans at the one-day regional Workshop organised by the Regional Cooperation Council's (RCC) Employment and Social Affairs Platform project (ESAP2) in Tirana, Albania today. The Workshop followed the successful completion of the Mutual Assistance Project (MAP) initial and follow-up visits that identified priorities in the area of undeclared work to be addressed by enforcement authorities in an attempt to find effective solutions in tackling this wide-spread regional phenomenon.

"The findings of the special edition of the Eurobarometer on undeclared work in the European Union (EU) from 2019 show that there is still a significant portion of the employed receiving envelope wages in one form or another. The situation in the Western Balkans is very similar. Envelope wages continue to represent a challenge because it is very difficult to identify and prove such practices, considering that at first sight, everything appears legal, as both the employer and the employee are formally registered. This type of regional cooperation provides an excellent opportunity for sharing good practices and enables us to tackle various forms of undeclared work more efficiently," said Professor Ioana Alexandra Horodnic, RCC ESAP2 Lead Expert on undeclared work.

„Workshops like the one ESAP 2 organized today represent an excellent opportunity for the Western Balkan professionals dealing with undeclared work to exchange experiences amongst themselves but also with their European peers. Hearing about practices that actually function yielding good results in a struggle to transform undeclared work into declared work, involving multiple actors in a society, allows for their adjustment and replication in societies where there are no effective tools“, said Ratka Babic, RCC ESAP 2 Acting Team Leader.

The event gathered around 30 participants from Labour Inspectorates and Tax Offices from all Western Balkan economies as well as European experts on undeclared work, both associated with the respective groups for Tackling Undeclared Work – European Platform and Western Balkans Network. European Platform for Tackling Undeclared Work experts Pal H. Lund from the Norwegian Labour Inspectorate, Catalin Tacu, Labour Inspectorate, Romania, and Brunilda Kosta, Professor on the Faculty of Economy in Tirana, Albania shared their experiences and provided advice on how the challenges of their Western Balkan colleagues could be addressed with the available tools applied in Europe.

The event aimed to facilitate the exchange of experiences among participants, allowing them to present the current state of their respective economies through open and transparent dialogue. It sought to create a non-judgmental learning space for everyone involved, with the goal of speeding up the efforts to address under-declared work envelope wages in the Western Balkan region.

RCC ESAP 2 remains committed to supporting its Western Balkan partners in addressing undeclared work. To further this commitment, a Study Visit to the Labour Inspectorate of Cyprus is scheduled for October 26-27, 2023.