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Social Rights as the Key for Economic Growth

Ivan Sekulović, Manager of the Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction Unit, Government of the Republic of Serbia
Sceptics say the digital noise of the modern age is hindering us from focusing deeply on issues of true importance for social development, as well as our individual development (there is already talk of a medical digital device distraction syndrome as one of the greatest healthcare threats in industrial countries). However, one piece of information in the ocean of everyday notifications is attracting a lot of attention these days (we hope). It is the fact that the European Union started the implementation of an initiative captivating in its simplicity and the basic need it responds to: the introduction of the “European Pillar of Social Rights”. Interested readers can find the full news item at the European Commission website.

What is it about? As always when dealing with EU jargon, it is very difficult to provide unambiguous answers, since one of the goals of the politicians running the Union is to develop it through semantics, as well. In other words, new expressions open up space for debate, primarily on their meaning, and thus pave the way for policy development. Whatever the “interpreters” agree on, that is what the policy will be. In this case, we expect for “leftist” theoreticians and politicians to jump with joy thinking it is a revival of the social Europe as imagined by its creator, Jacques Delors, while the “right” will probably respond with the same vehemence crying out for a further closing of borders. To be honest, it is not too revolutionary as it is about the revitalization of the concept of social Europe, i.e. the European Social Model, the natural phase of development of a union of economic interests as the EU was imagined at its inception. It is the introduction of equity in the Eurozone, a “compass” that would, as EC President Juncker last year said, serve to overcome changes to European societies; a roadmap for achieving inclusive growth as one of the pillars of the European development strategy – Europe 2020, a growth defined by the club of the richest countries in the world OECD as “establishing public policy that could improve the living standard of the population with increased equality in sharing the benefits of increased prosperity among social groups”.

What makes this initiative significant? Firstly, it places the focus of the debate on the future of the EU and the entire continent, or better yet, returns the focus to the issue of social rights as the common heritage of all member states through a debate on equal opportunities in the labour market, equitable working conditions and adequate and sustainable social protection; secondly, because it focuses on the citizens (“open to all”, as the Commissioner for Social Issues Thyssen describes it), it opens the door for an essential debate on issues regarding their lives; thirdly, it shows the Union is still very much alive (and resilient), prepared for reform (“reality check”), for discussing the consequences, but also the causes of the crises that besiege it; fourthly, that it is preparing for a return to the global stage as a respectable global “player”.

If Serbia were part of these European debates, we believe it would have a lot to say. Ever since the democratic changes in 2000, a lot of progress was made regarding the two thematic focuses elaborated above. Firstly, in the domain of social rights, a large number of international conventions were ratified, regulations were adopted transposing international standards into the domestic legislation, institutions were founded, such as independent bodies providing key contributions to the adequate implementation of standards, and reform documents were prepared for EU accession through open public discussion, such as the Employment and Social Policy Reform Programme (ESRP). Secondly, in the domain of public debate, the Government made progress by founding the Office for Cooperation with Civil Society, adopting guidelines establishing the procedure of including civil society in the process of drafting regulations and respecting the opinion of civil society on issues related to the EU accession negotiations process.

It would seem that the EU managed to sift through the ocean of (digital) information on crises and possibilities for overcoming them and recognize what is of essential importance: the pillar of all successful, inclusive and long-term economic growth is strengthening social rights and democratic debate. We believe the new Government of the Republic of Serbia will be even more decisive in continuing along this road.




TAIEX Workshop on Inter-Sectoral Governance for Effective Employment and Social Policy Making Held

The Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction Unit of the Government of the Republic of Serbia, in cooperation with the Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs and the European Commission, organized the TAIEX Workshop on Inter-sectoral Governance for Effective Employment and Social Policy Making, on Wednesday, 24th February 2016.

The aim of the Workshop was to enable policy learning from France, Slovakia, Slovenia, Macedonia and Serbia, and sharing of good practices in inter-sectoral governance and coordination of social and employment policies at the international, regional and national level.

The agenda and presentations can be downloaded here.

“How to Improve Management of International Development Assistance” Conference Held

The conference “How to Improve Management of International Development Assistance?” was held on Friday, 11 March 2016 at the Small Hall of the House of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia. The conference was dedicated to the issue of improving the system of managing international development assistance, primarily European Union funds from the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA).

The conference gathered relevant representatives of state institutions, the donor and international community, and civil society. It was an opportunity for all participants in the process of programming international development assistance to discuss the options for improving the process and increasing the quality of information exchange in this process.

The conference was organized by the SECO for human resources and social development, in partnership with the Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction Unit of the Government of the Republic of Serbia and with the financial support of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.

Public Call for Training in the Field of Entrepreneurship and Selection of Best Business Ideas Completed

The Regional Educational Centre – Banat is implementing the project “EXPLORE YOUR BUSINESS” with the financial support of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation – SDC, approved as part of the public competition “Support to Innovative Approaches to Increasing Youth Employment and Employability”.

The project envisages 30 young unemployed persons from the records of the National Employment Service attending training in the field of entrepreneurship for twenty days. Under the next step, a Committee will decide on the 10 best participants with the 10 best business ideas and provide them with the opportunity to continue training and develop their business ideas in detail during the subsequent two months, with continued mentoring support and the intent of demonstrating market sustainability at the end of the process. As a result of the advanced training, the participants will have fully prepared and detailed business plans, while the three best business ideas will be provided financial support to an individual amount of 2,000 Swiss francs.

The deadline for applications expired on 26 February 2016.

“Instructions for Preparing Teaching Materials in Accordance with the Principles of Universal Design” Published

The goal of these instructions is to introduce education workers to methods for preparing and adapting teaching materials (particularly in electronic form) based on principles of universal design, in order to make them accessible for learning to all children and students.

Respecting these instructions when creating electronic teaching materials can lead to very high quality, clear, understandable and accessible content for learning in school or at home, for children/students with development difficulties or disabilities, as well as for all children/students in general.

Instructions for Preparing Teaching Materials in Accordance with the Principles of Universal Design was presented to the public during the “New Technologies in Education 2016” conference and fair (26-27 February 2016, Belexpocentre, Belgrade).

Click here to download the Instructions for Preparing Teaching Materials in Accordance with the Principles of Universal Design.


48h LeanLab: Entrepreneurial Hackathon – Integrated Future through Migrant Integration in Europe (Deadline: 29/3/2016)
COSME Public Call for Improving the Quality of Cluster Operation (Deadline: 31/3/2016)
“Žana Borisavljević” Award Competition (Deadline: 31/3/2016)
European Social Innovation Competition 2016 (Deadline: 8/4/2016)
European PROGRES Public Call for Local Infrastructure Project Proposals (Deadline: 6/5/2016)
EC Competition for Best Idea in the Field of Entrepreneurship Promotion (Deadline: 15/6/2016)
First Call under the Interreg IPA CBC Programme Croatia-Serbia 2014-2020 (Deadline: 1/7/2016)
You may follow the news on open calls regularly at:


Strategy of Scientific and Technological Development of Serbia Adopted
Commissioner for Information of Public Importance and Protection of Personal Data Opens the Institution’s Publicly Accessible Data
The “Improving Human Rights Access for the Elderly in the Republic of Serbia” Project Completed
The “Child Marriages in Serbia–Situation Analysis and Recommendations” Survey Conducted
Annual GSA Report on the Status of Human Rights of LGBT Persons for 2015 Under Way
Gayten-LGBT Organization Drafts Media Recommendations for Reporting on Trans Persons
Open Governance Partnership: Report on Serbia and Drafting the New Action Plan
Online Volunteer Database Coming Soon
You may follow the news on social inclusion and poverty reduction regularly at:


DRAGAN KUJUNDŽIĆ: OkO (EyE) of the Streets of Belgrade

The goal of the project “OkO beogradskih ulica” ( was improving the quality of life for persons with disabilities, using photography, through an authentic artistic-documentary approach by the authors of the photographs, persons with disabilities forced to move through the streets of Belgrade with difficulties.

The project organizer was AFA – Association of Photographic Authors, with the project coordinated by Dragan Kujundžić, the author of this blog. The project was implemented with the financial support of NIS as part of the “Zajednici zajedno” activity, and the support of the Assembly of the City of Belgrade.

Participants in the project were young people organized through the Association of Students with Disabilities ( Their inclusion was a project priority, with the implementation also actively involving volunteers, young photographers who attended our previous project, OkO Srbije.

Project implementation started in September 2014. The photographs shown here were displayed at an exhibition opened on 3 December 2014, on the occasion of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. Dijana Ljubojević, Ivana Adamović, Lana Nikolić, Lidija Kačar, Marko Vićević, Milan Janković, Milica Simović, Nevena Adamović, Nikola Arsić, Živko Bošković are the authors of these photographs.

Click here to view the photographs created as part of the project “OkO beogradskih ulica”.

Other texts by our bloggers can be found at:


TAMARA DRAGOVIĆ: There is Nothing Women Cannot Do When they Join Forces!

From the presentation at the 32nd Belgrade Ignite “Get Involved no. 3” (29 October 2015, Impact Hub, Belgrade)

(...) When I became a mom in 2009, I was the happiest and most fulfilled person in the world, but at the same time, I was also lonely. Not having the fortune of having kids at the same time as my friends, I longed for other moms, to exchange experiences, to go for walks, and most of all – to share my fears with them. That is when I used the situation to transform myself and realized that our responsibility begins with our imaginations.

And so, a few years later, I met two wonderful women, moms with whom at first I started to do business together, then we started to hang out, then our kids started to hang out. (…) We had the idea of providing support to other moms going through the same experience at the start of their parenthood. At the time, all three of us were entrepreneurs, we were all engaged in new work, i.e. we did not work in our primary occupations, and our work was tied to our children and grew with our children. This is how Sonja Dakić, Milica Čalija and Tamara Dragović became UdruŽene (“Women Joining Forces”), with the idea of supporting other moms.

At the time when UdruŽene were born, the association “Roda – roditelji u akciji” from Croatia organized the activity of collecting baby-carriers and slings for refugee moms from the Near East and Northern Africa. Through an agreement with this association, we took over this initiative at the level of Serbia, transforming it into a personal initiative. We wanted to invite other moms to support refugee moms and the response was incredible (…). We wanted to make it easier for refugee moms to carry their children on their very difficult road, but it was also important to provide them with emotional support, to look at everyone, to have a smile for everyone, and we always got a smile back. We first distributed slings in Belgrade, then moved to Šid later, as the refugees changed their route.

Once you get home, after everything, you get involved and everything hurts, it is hard. Yes, opening up hurts sometimes. But the most important thing of all is that it opens you up for some important questions. Lying down next to my children, dry and well-fed, I wondered if this can be my privilege? I realized it cannot, it is everyone’s right! (…) No matter how little it may seem you can do – the barest minimum – when every one of us does a little, it becomes a lot, particularly for people in the most difficult situation in their life.

More success stories can be found at
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Government of the Republic of Serbia
Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction Unit
Vlajkovićeva 10,11070 Beograd, Srbija

Phone +381 11 311 4605, +381 11 311 4798, +381 11 213 7915