The lack of research and knowledge based approach to social policy development limit the effectiveness and accordingly, the efficiency of current welfare systems. This was the main conclusion of the peer review workshop “The Future of the Welfare State - Delivery and Financing Holistic Services”, which took place in Tirana, on 6 December 2017.
This was the first regional workshop organised by the Western Balkan Regional Initiative and supported by PERFORM. Members of the Initiative met with the representatives from respective policy institutions, international institutions and civil society organisations from the Western Balkan region to discuss challenges and opportunities of the welfare state.
Opening the workshop Head of Local Governance at the Swiss Embassy in Albania, Ms Debora Kern said that there is a need for more evidence-based research in the Western Balkan region. She stressed that social dynamics are changing, which condition us all to look into the future needs and respond to challenges ahead. Ms. Kern highlighted the importance of the conference as a mechanism for evidence gathering:
"This is not a donor driven agenda, but the evidence produced by the local people."
The focus of the workshop was on the governance of social services, service delivery, minimum basket of services and social reintegration. The workshop gathered more than 70 participants involved in social systems from six Western Balkan countries.
The participants discussed about the importance of proactive role of all system actors, the need for local research knowledge driven reforms, government engagements in the latest restructuring steps of the social policy systems, as well as the different models of their implementations. The workshop featured sessions on thematic research cases from six Western Balkan countries in the area of child protection, fiscal burden of social benefits, minimum income scheme, etc.
Some of the key messages from the peer review workshop relate to the importance of regional approach to welfare state as a supporting tool to all stakeholders as well as the necessity of national leadership to successful reform process.
“Reforms of social systems need national leadership and international support; however national leadership is the key to the successful reforms”, said Mr Paul Stubbs, Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Economics in Zagreb.