“Open Balkan” starts functioning from this fall

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Ratification of the agreement in the assembly of North Macedonia is awaited, after which technical protocols should be signed as a basis for launching the labor market.

In order for the single labor market at the level of North Macedonia, Albania and Serbia to function within the framework of the “Open Balkans” initiative, it is necessary to complete all regulatory changes and then adopt them in the parliaments of all three countries. The last step is the ratification of the agreement in the assembly of North Macedonia, after which the technical protocols should be signed as a basis for the functioning of the single labor market in the three states. As Nenad Đurđević, advisor to the president of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce, explains, such a labor market will be functional in the fall.

– In practice, this means that citizens of North Macedonia and Albania will not need residence and work permits. The employment of citizens of these two countries in Serbia will be identical to that of citizens of Serbia, and the Law on the Employment of Foreigners will not apply to them – emphasizes Đurđević. He reminds that, according to the law, in order for a foreigner to be employed in our country, he must first obtain a work and residence permit from the police, and then prove that all possibilities to employ a person with Serbian citizenship for that position have been exhausted. After that, the work permit for the employee must be extended, i.e. there are certain administrative procedures that require time and commitment of employees to complete those procedures.

– All this will not apply to the employment of citizens of North Macedonia and Albania in Serbia – he states.

The procedure provided for in the technical protocols that have been agreed, but not signed, implies that a citizen of one of the three countries accesses their e-government with a request for the issuance of an “Open Balkans” ID number (OB ID number). It is expected that after the completion of the ratification in North Macedonia, the protocols will be signed, after which the date of the start of implementation will be announced.

– After filling out the form online and with an identification document (passport or ID card with a chip), the e-administration issues an OB ID number on the basis of which the right to work in another country of the “Open Balkans” is further exercised. After receiving the OB ID number, a citizen who wants to establish an employment relationship or is looking for a job in another country, applies for a so-called work permit, with the help of this number on the e-government service of the country in which he wants to establish an employment relationship – explains Đurđević. He adds that he then fills out the form again and gives his OB ID number, on the basis of which he is approved to stay and look for work or establish an employment relationship in the same way as a local citizen in a given country.

– The employer does not have any administration other than that which is implied when establishing an employment relationship with a citizen of the country in which it operates. However, given that the technical protocols that enable the implementation of procedures in all three countries have not yet been signed, therefore the e-government service is not yet available, but everything is technically ready for its implementation – emphasizes Đurđević.

The “Open Balkans” initiative was agreed upon by the officials of the three countries back in 2019, in order to enable the citizens of this region to integrate, travel, trade more easily, reach scarce personnel, i.e. to enable free movement of goods, services, and people similar to the EU model. and capital.

The arrival of around 30,000 workers is expected

Nebojša Atanacković, honorary president of the Union of Employers of Serbia, is convinced that increasing the number of workers in this way will benefit our employers, especially for positions that are normally always vacant.

– We lack all profiles in construction, as well as workers in hospitality and tourism, drivers and even those who perform seasonal jobs, such as pickers. We expect around 30,000 to arrive. Of course, they will not all come at once, and accordingly, there will not be 30,000 more workers in Serbia constantly thanks to the connection of the national electronic systems of Serbia, North Macedonia and Albania – notes Atanacković, Politika writes.