SEE TU Economic experts’ Meeting: “Developments of the economies, macro-economic indicators and challenges in SEE countries”

On 15 – 16 November 2012, Belgrade hosted the SEE TU Economic Experts’ Meeting, which was financially supported by FES Regional Office Belgrade and PERC within the Projects of support to SEE trade unions of LO TCO Sweden. On that occasion, 25 trade union economic experts from the Region discussed the actual economic situation in their countries, presented some macroeconomic indicators and challenges, learned on EU policies on social dimension on enlargement process, and identified some proposals of measures and alternative economic ideas.

The topics in the meeting were: (1) SEE TU Economic Experts Network – capacity of SEE trade unions:what has been done so far, present and future activities; (2) Recent macroeconomic conditions in SEE countries- national presentations; (3) The social dimension of the Enlargement process; (4) SEE TU Economic Experts Network Web- site presentation, visual structure, administration, maintenance of web- portal; (6) Future steps of the Network of economists and conclusions.

Prof. Bruno Sergi – ETUI expert, who is at the same time the mentor of the Network of economists, as well as Grigor Gradev - ETUI and also PERC Executive Secretary contributed to the work of the meeting with their knowledge and experience on the economic topics and trade union policies. Ms. Maria Eleni Koppa – a member of the European Parliament and her assistant Mr. Vicenzo Greco contributed to the success of the meeting with their participation, interventions, and presentations. On behalf of the FES Regional Office Belgrade, the meeting was attended by Roland Feicht – Director and Milan Jevtić – Project coordinator. Participants in the meeting, on behalf of the trade unions in Serbia, were welcomed by the president of UGS Nezavisnost, Mr. Branislav Čanak,

The meeting was attended by the experts from Albania /KSSH and BSPSH/, Macedonia /KSSM and SSM/, Montenegro /CTUM/, Serbia /CATUS and UGS “Nezavisnost”/, Bosnia and Herzegovina /KSBiH/, Croatia /UATUC, NHS and HUS/.

The working languages of the meeting were Albanian, BSC and English.

After the presentations and new information, the economic experts identified in their discussions several relevant challenges and problems:

-  Crisis brutally hit the CEE and SEE countries;
-  Effects of the current crisis have double impact on trade unions: (1) they massively lose membership, as the workers lose their jobs; (2) they cannot enforce their role, that is, they cannot fulfill promises that they would protect the rights of their members. The problem of reduction of wages is particularly highlighted, and the trade unions fight this phenomenon. Yet, is this realistically feasible?
-  The explicit growth of inequality and injustice in the distribution of the wealth, which is the key reason for the crisis;
-  The presence of IMF is also a problem, as well as conditions it represents, while the governments often misuse IMF and thus conceal bad moves, strategies and policies;
-  There is a special pressure on the reduction of wages in public sector, including the reduction of pensions, given that it is so easy for the authorities to take money from there;
-  There are difficulties in the labor market, there are no new jobs and not clear who is in charge of the creation of new jobs. Foreign investments are not the only option. The situation has to be seriously considered and alternative models of growth have also to be considered seriously.


1. Existing draft national reports on macroeconomic indicators and proposed measures are a good basis for the future work of the Network. It was concluded that the national reports need to be updated with the latest data. All the national teams will complete this task and provide the mentor and ITUC - PERC Sarajevo Office with records no later than 26 November 2012. Final joint document will be published in January 2013.

2. Participants welcomed the confirmation of acceptance of the new project by LO Norway, with the financial support of the Norwegian government, which will allow the economic experts and trade unions to get more seriously with the issues of taxation system reforms, informal economy, and corruption. It will be a continuation of the commenced work on the issues, which constitute a permanent obstacle for the growth and development, and will still be a great challenge for the trade unions.

3. Participants would like to thank Ms. Koppa – a member of the European Parliament, who passed on them important information about the policy of accession, strategies, and social dimension of that process. Network will continue with monitoring of the European Union policies; the cooperation between the Network and Ms. Koppa and Mr. Greco will be continued, which will facilitate the mutual flow of information, strategic interests, opinions, and visions about the process of accession by the Balkan states.

4. Mr. Sven Karas will remain in charge of maintenance of the special web page of the Network of economists, and he will in consultation with Prof. Sergi and the Sarajevo Office take care about posting data and documents on the page. Each of the countries will appoint one national coordinator for direct communication with Sven in relation to posting data and documents on the web page. All the Network members will by 26 November send to the Sarajevo Office short CV-s with their photos for the web page.

5. In the first quarter of 2103, a starting meeting will be held, which will discuss and arrange the specific further activities of the Network members on the issues of the taxation system reforms, informal economy, and corruption. Trade unions will engage all their capacities in the work of these important issues, so as to create their strategies at the national and regional level. It was proposed to hold a next meeting in BiH – Banjaluka.

ITUC- PERC SEE Office Sarajevo