Policy lessons from Belgium: improving employment coordination in Bosnia and Herzegovina

A key feature of ETF’s work is to promote policy learning between EU member countries and its partner countries.

On 23 March, officials from the employment authorities across Bosnia and Herzegovina had an opportunity to learn how employment policy is developed and coordinated in Belgium.

Like Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Belgian state is highly decentralised to autonomous regions, each responsible for its own employment policy and its implementation. Discussions centred round a case study on employment policy in Flanders, one of the Belgium’s three autonomous regions. A particular focus of the discussions was on how on the region of Flanders coordinates its employment development with fellow regions (Wallonia and Brussels Capital). A second line of discussion addressed how Flanders reports to state-level on employment specifically in the context of wider EU employment monitoring.

Opening the meeting, Manuela Prina, Head of Unit at ETF, said the case study was an excellent policy reference for BiH employment stakeholders at state and entity levels given the similar governance arrangements in each country.

The case study was drawn up by Niels de Block who participated in the meeting. The case study includes examples of cooperation protocols and guidelines used by the Flemish authorities in the employment policy drive.

One good practice shared into the meeting was the cooperation agreement between all three Belgium regions, facilitated by the state employment authorities, on coordination of employment and vocational training services. This is critical to ensuring mobility of labour within Belgium, Mr. de Block said.

The meeting also allowed for sharing of the next phase of employment developments at EU level.  This particularly reflects the EU’s ‘Green Deal’ – a commitment by the EU’s twenty-seven member states to a greener, more digital and more sustainable economy and towards which Bosnia and Herzegovina will need to evolve. While job wastage would be a feature of more dirty industries, new jobs would be created through cleaner production, said Anthony Gribben of ETF.  The case study highlighted how Flanders has already taken steps in this direction.

In his conclusions to the meeting, Nenad Novaković, Head of Department for Employment at the Ministry of Civil Affairs, underlined that while the Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina defines responsibilities for employment governance between state and entity levels, coordination mechanisms need to be better defined. Improving these coordination mechanisms will feature in EU support to Bosnia and Herzegovina, said Ljiljana Pandžić, who leads on employment developments at the EU Delegation to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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