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Providing advice to the West Balkans 6 on EU accession

  • Professor Colin Williams of Sheffield University Management School has been appointed to advise six countries in the West Balkans on their accession to the European Union from 2025. 
  • Prof Williams will provide advice on the development of strategies for tackling undeclared work in six countries; Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Kosovo, FYR Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia.  

Brexit may be the hot news in the UK but other countries in Europe recognise the advantages of EU membership and are actively seeking to join the EU family. Colin Williams, Professor of Public Policy at Sheffield University Management School, has been appointed to advise six countries in the West Balkans on their accession to the European Union from 2025.

The appointment of Prof Williams follows a keynote speech he delivered at the first European Commission conference in the West Balkans region in January 2018, on the subject of boosting the social dimension.  

Working with the Regional Cooperation Council, the objective of Professor Williams is to align the strategies towards tackling informal employment in these six countries with the approaches being adopted in the European Union. If achieved this will facilitate their smooth accession, by demonstrating how they are already adopting the good practices being pursued in the EU member states.

Professor Williams will provide advice on the development of strategies for tackling undeclared work in the six countries. As Professor Williams comments, “cash-in-hand or undeclared work is the equivalent of some 25-35% of GDP in these countries, and effective strategies need to be put in place to smooth the accession process into the EU”.

Following an initial diagnostic report and the production of a roadmap for each country, the second and much more arduous stage will entail seeking ‘buy-in’ from the governments and social partners in each country.

This project follows a raft of previous work in the region:

  • In 2010, Prof Williams undertook a similar exercise prior to the entrance of Croatia into the EU.
  • In 2016, Prof Williams successfully negotiated one of the four ‘bailout conditions’ with Greece, helping them develop a strategy to tackle their large undeclared economy.
  • From 2013-2017 Prof Williams was Principal Investigator on a £1.2 million Marie Curie Industry-Academia Partnerships Programme grant to develop the capacity and capability for tackling undeclared work in the region.   

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