European Union and work-care policies in the Western Balkans

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This article published in Journal of International and Comparative Social Policy explores work-care policy development in Western Balkans, focusing on a critical assessment of the potential of the European Union’s policy framework to (re)shape the policies adopted in Western Balkans and boost gender equality in employment and care. Two policy measures at the centre of the European agenda are in focus: parenting leaves and early childhood education and care. The EU’s employment-oriented policy framework has met underdeveloped childcare services network and mother-centred and stratifying leave policies in Western Balkans, providing ample space for improvements regarding gender imbalance in care and employment. While the EU policy framework may provide an important push factor towards introducing gender-equalising policies in Western Balkans, it can also bring minimum adjustments. The EU’s ambiguous work-care policy framework, weak legitimacy of gender equality agenda and weak fiscal capacities in Western Balkans, and uncertainties about EU membership prospects may hamper progress towards more inclusive and gender-equal work-care policies. Full text is available here.