Economy of Southern Europe


Until 1991, Albania was an authoritarian communist country. Since then, the country has been democratized and major economic reforms have been implemented. Agriculture dominates employment and the trade union movement is weak.


Country Facts

State condition: Republic

Surface: 28,700 km2

Capital: Tirana

Language: Albanian, in addition, Greek and several minority languages ​​are spoken

Labor market and economy:

Albania’s economic problems are still deep. The transition from planned economy to market economy has been painful. It is Europe’s second poorest country, only Moldova has an even lower GDP per capita. Unemployment is also high, around 15 percent, which has led many Albanians to leave the country to look for work in other countries. At the same time, there are some positive signs, investments are increasing and the country has important natural resources consisting of both oil and natural gas that could be extracted to a much greater extent than today. Just over half of the country’s workers work in agriculture, which in total accounts for about a fifth of the country’s economy.


The State of Bosnia and Herzegovina consists of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Republika Srpska. The Balkan war is over, but reconstruction will take a long time and the economy is in shambles. In the two parts of the country there are also two separate union structures.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Country Facts

State condition: Republic

Surface: 51,500 km2

Capital: Sarajevo

Language: Bosnian, Serbian and Croatian

Labor market and economy:

Together with Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina was the poorest part of the former Yugoslavia. In addition, the war has wreaked havoc and shattered the country’s infrastructure. Industrial production is still lower than ten years ago. The country is also in great need of new legal regulations to create the conditions for new investments. The main industry consists of agriculture and steel.

Workers and officials in Bosnia and Herzegovina have been hit hard by the economic crisis. Unemployment is high and it is common for employers to be unable to pay wages to employees. As part of the International Monetary Fund’s program in the country, extensive privatizations have been carried out. Several union representatives claim that these have led to former state-owned companies being handed over to rogue private owners who pursue an anti-union policy. Gradually, the contradictions in the labor market have intensified, which has resulted in a growing number of strikes. According to a saying in the country, news of new strikes is as common as weather reports.


Croatia’s independence became a starting point for the war in the Balkans. After the end of the war, democracy in the country has been strengthened. Economic development has also been better than in the Balkans as a whole. The country has both a reformed continuation of the old trade union structure and newly formed organizations.


Country Facts

State condition: Republic

Surface: 56,500 km2

Capital: Zagreb

Language: Croatian, Serbian and several other minority languages.

Labor market and economy:

Croatia is heavily dependent on tourism revenues, but it also has a significant production of textiles, chemicals and food. However, the service industry accounts for 70 percent of the country’s GDP. Before the financial crisis of 2007-2008, the country’s economy grew rapidly, since then growth has slowed. Unemployment is just under 15 percent, ie one of the highest in Europe.


In May 2006, a referendum was held in Montenegro on the future status of the region. The result was that 55 percent of voters wanted Montenegro to become an independent state and leave the Serbia-Montenegro federation. Shortly afterwards, Montenegro was recognized by the EU as an independent state.


Country Facts

State condition: Republic

Surface: 14,000 km2

Capital: Podgorica

Language: Serbian (Ijekavian dialect)

Labor market and economy:

High unemployment is a major problem. High hopes are attached to tourism. In Montenegro there are several seaside resorts along the Adriatic. Another strategy by the government has been to try to stimulate the economy through extensive privatizations, including of the industries that produce aluminum. Similarly, virtually the entire financial sector has been privatized.


Macedonia is one of the poorer countries in the Balkans. Agriculture is by far the most important industry. The largest popular movement in the country is a reformed continuation of the old trade union structure.


Country Facts

State condition: Parliamentary Republic

Surface: 25,713 km2

Capital: Skoje

Language: Macedonian, in addition, about a quarter of the population speaks Albanian

Labor market and economy:

After the collapse of Yugoslavia, Macedonia became one of the poorest countries in the region. The economy is still weak compared to neighboring countries. Important sources of income are tourism and agriculture. Significant exports are iron, steel, wine and vegetables. In recent years, major investments have been made in raising the level of education, which has helped to reduce unemployment. By European standards, however, the employment rate is still low and there are twice as many men compared to women who have paid work.


Turkey is a Eurasian unitary state and republic. Of the OECD countries, Turkey is the poorest. Prosperity in Turkey is also very unevenly distributed. There are several trade union movements, but the repression against trade union work is extensive. In recent years, repression has intensified against various forms of opposition, including against critical unions.


Country Facts

State condition: Republic

Surface: 780 580 km2

Capital: Ankara

Language: Turkish is the official language, in addition Kurdish, Arabic, Armenian and Greek are spoken

Labor market and economy:

Half of Turkey’s workforce works in agriculture. But the Turkish state has mainly invested in developing the industry. Several basic industries are state-owned. The Turkish economy is currently facing deep problems. To improve the economy, the government has pushed through a comprehensive privatization program with the goal of selling a third of state-owned enterprises. Privatization policy has met with strong union opposition.