Bridging function

The European Centre is concerned with all aspects of social welfare policy. Its purpose, as laid down in a series of formal Agreements under international law between the United Nations and the Federal Government of Austria as the Host Country, is to foster the collaboration between governments and organisations in the field of social welfare. Accordingly, the main tasks comprise the exchange of professional experiences, research, and the maintenance of relations between UN-European countries and institutions active in the field of social welfare.

Bridging to Eastern Europe in the Field of Social Welfare

Innovative approaches can provide answers to economic and societal challenges such as demographic change, the current migration wave, and the unequal distribution of wealth. To improve European cohesion, the European Centre provides governments, international institutions, research institutes and civil society organisations of the Europe of 56 and in particular of EU (potential) candidate countries and the countries of the Eastern partnership with relevant know-how and advice for establishing or improving structures in the social welfare field, based on expertise drawn from the European Centre's empirical and comparative cross-national research.

We bridge the knowledge and policy evidence between these countries and other countries of the UN European region (e.g. EU Member States). Specifically, the bridging function is based on three main pillars:

  • Comparative social policy and welfare research
  • Knowledge transfer and public forum function
  • Policy consultancy

More specifically, within these three pillars, the foreseeable main tasks to be carried out as part of the bridging function would be to contribute to the identification of the main social issues in Europe through research projects involving partner institutions from different countries; know-how transfer and capacity building involving different public (e.g. state institutes) and private (e.g. universities) stakeholders at different levels (central, regional and municipal or local level), through workshops, seminars and policy consultation.

The bridging function is based on the premise of close collaboration and participation with the national governments of European countries, the European Union and other relevant stakeholders at the international, European and national level.

In this context, the European Centre organised a Launch event "Building Bridges in Social Welfare Policy in Eastern Europe" that took place on 19 September 2016 in Vienna. It aims at gathering and exchanging expertise from researchers, policy makers and practitioners on Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Kosovo*, Macedonia**, Moldova***, Montenegro, Serbia, Turkey, and Ukraine*. Scholars and experts with expertise in innovative approaches in labour market policy and health and social care (long-term care) arrangements in the above-mentioned countries discussed recent research findings and good practice implementation. As a result of the event the Eastern European Social Policy Network, in short EESPN, was launched gathering researchers, civil servants of respective ministries and other public authorities as well as civil society organisations to intensify exchange and mutual learning in the area of social policies. Further information on the network is provided here.

* This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244/1999 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.
** The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
*** Republic of Moldova

In the last years, the European Centre and the Austrian Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Consumer Protection also have visited some target countries to assess their demand regarding establishing and deepening cooperation in the social field. National Liaison Officials (NLOs) were nominated in the countries that serve as key link between the European Centre and the states. The NLOs act as intermediaries representing both the interests of their nations within the European Centre as well as those of the European Centre in their countries.