CSOs from the Western Balkans demand that labor and social rights be included in the framework of the Berlin Process

October 10 2023

Twenty civil society organizations from the Western Balkans today issued a joint letter demanding that labor and social rights be included in the agenda of the Berlin Process and future discussions on the common market.

In the letter, the organizations urge local governments, regional bodies, and the European Union to prioritize labor and social rights in the framework of further economic integration, in particular the Common Regional Market of the WB6.

“Ensuring labor and social rights is not only a moral imperative but also essential for the long-term prosperity and stability of the region,” the letter reads. “By including these critical aspects into the Common Regional Market framework, we can ensure fair and just working conditions for all individuals, regardless of their employment status. This includes, but is not limited to, the right to safe and healthy working environments, living wages, equal opportunities, and the freedom to organize and bargain collectively. Ensuring these rights will not only benefit the workforce but also contribute to economic growth, social cohesion, and the overall well-being of citizens in our region.”

The organizations also call for the establishment of a working group or committee dedicated to the integration of labor rights and social rights into the Common Regional Market framework. They also urge local governments to collaborate with relevant stakeholders, including labor unions, civil society organizations, and experts in labor and social policy, to develop comprehensive policies and strategies.

“We urge our governments to take these steps to demonstrate our commitment to the well-being and dignity of our citizens and set a positive example of responsibility,” the letter concludes. “It is our sincere hope that the Common Regional Market will seize this opportunity to prioritize labor rights and social rights in its framework, creating a more just and prosperous future for all.”

The Berlin Process Summit 2023 will be held on October 16th in Tirana, Albania. The summit will bring together leaders from the Western Balkans, the European Union, and other regional partners to discuss progress on regional cooperation and economic integration. The summit is expected to focus on a range of issues, including the implementation of the Common Regional Market of the WB6.

The twenty civil society organizations signing the letter adopted a joint Manifesto on Decent Work (www.decentworkbalkans.com) earlier in September of this year. These organizations are:

  1. Center for the Politics of Emancipation, Serbia
  2. Institute for Social Policy ‘Musine Kokalari’, Kosovo
  3. Institute for Critique & Social Emancipation, Albania
  4. Women’s Rights Center, Montenegro
  5. Freedom Front, Bosnia & Herzegovina
  6. Open Gate, North Macedonia
  7. Center for Dignified Work, Serbia
  8. Kosovar Stability Initiative, Kosovo
  9. Gender Alliance for Development Center, Albania
  10. Safety at Work Association, Montenegro
  11. Crvena, Association for Culture & Art, Bosnia & Herzegovina
  12. Roza, Association for Women’s Labor Rights, Serbia
  13. Center for Policy & Advocacy, Kosovo
  14. Social Development Investment, Albania
  15. Association for Children & Youth, Montenegro
  16. Zora, Association for Social, Cultural & Creative Development, Bosnia & Herzegovina
  17. A11 Initiative for Economic & Social Rights, Serbia
  18. Lens, Kosovo
  19. Center for Labor Rights, Albania
  20. Together for Life, Albania