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LSEE Research Network Regional Workshop

LSEE Research Network on Social Cohesion in the Western Balkans

Regional Workshop


Date 21 & 22 September 2015
Venue Hotel Maestral, Miločer, Montenegro
Time 9:00 - 17:30
Speakers See the conference programme
Hosted by Dr Will Bartlett – London School of Economics and Political Science, LSEE
Dr Vassilis Monastiriotis – London School of Economics and Political Science, LSEE

Conference programme

Event summary and objectives

Social inclusion is a key issue in Western Balkans due to the effects of the ongoing economic crisis, which has led to growing problems of unemployment, poverty, inequality, and social exclusion. The recent exodus of young Kosovars through Serbia to Hungary is a vivid reminder of the continuing and deepening social problems in the region. Yet, there are some signs that the worst may be over and a new cycle of economic growth may be in view over the next seven years. While much depends upon developments in the eurozone over this period, new industries are beginning to emerge in the creative sectors, in design and ICT, as well as in hi-tech components industries. New investors are entering the region including from China and the Gulf States. The Berlin Agenda, which promises additional EU support for infrastructure and the development of regional “connectivity” may be a game changer in the region. The SEE 2020 Strategy emphasises the contribution that regional cooperation can make to growth and pays special attention to inclusive growth. In anticipation of a return to growth in the region, it seems important to ensure that such growth makes real inroads into unemployment, poverty and inequality by ensuring its inclusive nature. Social inclusion is an important element of the EU Enlargement Strategy, and new EU financing through IPA II adopts a sector approach to external funding that may presage a more focused and effective donor partnership with governments in the region. New initiatives to encourage inclusive education may provide an impetus for a more inclusive approach to skill development. 

However, many obstacles to inclusive growth remain, including issues such as continuing exclusion of minority groups and disadvantaged groups from the fruits of growth, and deeply embedded structural issues related to the uncritical application of neoliberal ideology in the transition process over the last twenty years which has led to phenomena such as jobless growth, widespread skill mismatch in the labour markets, low female labour market participation, entrenched poverty among vulnerable groups, and growing inequality associated with a skewed distribution of the gains from growth to a narrow elite and to the virtual disappearance of a progressive middle class that could be the bearer of “European values” in the accession process. In view of these and other intractable obstacles to the inclusiveness of the growth process, the workshop is dedicated to identifying the existing and likely future obstacles to inclusive growth, and providing proposals for ways forward to a genuinely inclusive growth process in the region. 

The workshop brings together members of the LSEE Research Network on Social Cohesion in the Western Balkans to present their research findings on these issues, focusing on the sectors of Education, Employment and Social Protection. We also invite participation of scholars who would like to present their work in a supportive environment of constructively critical analysis of current socio-economic policy directions in the Western Balkans. 

The workshop also aims to lay the foundations for the production of an edited book and a journal special issue, reflecting the work of the LSEE Research Network Working Groups.

The workshop is organised by the LSEE Research Network on Social Cohesion in the Western Balkans.

Read the Workshop Programme here.




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