Conceptually, the school was organized in three separate streams, where participants intensively worked on three focal topics. Welfare State, where the focus was primarily on past or planned reforms in the funding of the welfare state, including prospective innovations. In this stream, participants examined multiple issues such as decentralization of social protection, financing of preschool education, privatization of pension insurance, an extension of social security to workers in the informal economy, universal basic income and funding of healthcare.
The second stream Social Mobility and Inequality concentrated on different types of inequalities of life opportunities related to the socio-economic background in Western Balkan countries such as inequalities in income and consumption, inequalities in employment, access and quality of social services, disparities in educational opportunities, gender inequalities, and urban vs rural inequality. This stream used similarities and differences existing among Western Balkan countries as a platform for building a better understanding of rising inequalities in the region as well as for building capacities of participants for analysis and formulation of policy proposals.
The third stream, Community-based Services explored the principles behind, the rationale for, and aspects of the delivery of community-based services, broadly defined as accessible services to individuals, groups, families and communities that seek to empower and enable the right to independent living as opposed to placement in restrictive, traditional, settings.
The workflow also featured various panel discussions in between work-streams. At one of the panels, Mirna Jusić, author of the Social Change and EU Enlargement Policy paper initiated by the FES Dialogue Southeast Europe, presented the main findings of the study. During her presentation, she emphasized that the general picture concerning the social dimension of enlargement remains rather narrow. The enlargement process was geared at the promotion of market-oriented, supply-side skill acquisition strategies and maintenance of residual social safety nets. Furthermore, she said that governments of the WB6 were not able to reach beyond forms of outdated social protection, healthcare, education and employment systems to secure a broader set of social rights for their citizens.
The policy laboratory school is organized every two years as it is essential for all actors across the region who are dealing with social issues to keep track of reforms. It further helps to communicate the necessity of social matters as a topic to the regional governments and the EU. The final messages created over these five days intend to leave a substantive impact on governments and respective NGOs in the region.