Albanians and the European Social Model: Towards a redefinition of the social contract

Author: megi / Date: 12-03-2015 /

This survey tries to map the general attitudes of Albanian citizens towards the state, its institutions, public services, the public versus private provision of services, as well as outlines citizens’ main attitudes towards the welfare state, social solidarity, the extent of the universal provision of services, etc. 

The survey is important for three reasons: 

First, this survey adds to a very limited number of social surveys conducted in Albania. While a wide range of surveys have been conducted in the country, social surveys are less common. To be mentioned are Albanian Youth 2011: In between trust for the future and distrust for the present!, The state of Albanian democracy at the eve of 2013 general elections, as well as The European Social Survey (ESS) 2013 conducted by OSF Albania. This survey will add to these existing ones as well as use them as a comparative asset when appropriate.

Second, this survey goes beyond the existing efforts in comprehensively trying to adopt the main pillars of the European Social Model to a survey for the Albanian context. The European Social Model is defined in the European Commission’sWhite Paper on European Social Policy - A Way Forward for the Union of 1994, where the main pillars are defined as “democracy and individual rights, free collective bargaining, the market economy, equal opportunities for all, and social protection and solidarity.” The European Social Model is a unique combination meant “to give to the people of Europe the unique blend of economic well-being, social cohesiveness and high overall quality of life.” Thus, the European Social Model serves as the skeleton of this survey as it defines its main sections: 1. Democracy and market economy; 2. Trust; 3. Collective bargaining and social dialogue; 4. Public services and state size; 5. Equal opportunities and social protection; 6. Risk assessment.

Third, policymakers can find this survey helpful in the future when in need of social consensus over major social reforms or over the design of new social schemes. We already find social issues and especially discussions on the social welfare very relevant for Albania today in the light of the current economic hardship and of approaching new social problems like aging of the population. Especially with the start of negotiation for membership in the European Union in the near future, national consensus on reforms is going to be crucial. Some successful cases from Central and Eastern Europe show that incorporation of citizens’ needs, opinions and viewpoints when taking major steps forward with reforms is vital to successful reforms and the EU accession timing.