On Tuesday 21st January 2020, the first internal meeting of the renewed Social Economy Intergroup (SEIG) took place at the European Parliament in Brussels to appoint the co-Chairs and vice-Chairs of the Intergroup and to draw up a strategy for the next five years.
Five Members of the European Parliament were appointed as Co-Chairs of the SEIG, among whom, Patrizia Toia (S&D, IT), Sven Giegold (Greens/EFA, DE), Leopoldo López (EPP, ES), Monica Semedo (Renew, LU) and Manon Aubry (GUE/NGL, FR). Furthermore, the Intergroup appointed MEPs Leszek Miller (S&D, PL) and Jordi Cañas (Renew, ES) as vice-Chairs and agreed to appoint three more respectively from the EPP, the Greens/EFA and the GUE/NGL, in the coming weeks.
Also, the Intergroup agreed on a strategy for the next five years. At a moment in which the European Commission has just announced the launch of a European Action Plan for the Social Economy in 2021, in its communication on A Strong Social Europe for Just Transitions, the SEIG aims to cooperate with President Von der Leyen, Vice-President Dombrovskis, and Commissioners Schmit and Breton in co-designing an effective policy, that will play a key role in building an economy that works for people and the planet.
Patrizia Toia expressed her satisfaction for the renewal of the Social Economy Intergroup, that will play a central role in including the social economy’s perspective into the work of the European Parliament and thanked her colleagues and Social Economy Europe for the successful renewal campaign. Ms Toia pointed out that ensuring the active participation of MEPs from across the entire EU and continuing the promotion of the social economy where it is less developed must be among the top priorities.
Sven Giegold stressed the enormous opportunity that the announcement of the Action Plan represents to support the emergence and development of social economy enterprises and organisations all over the EU. He emphasised that the Intergroup needs to be involved in the co-designing of the Action Plan and work together to mainstream the social economy in the Multi-annual Financial Framework 2021-2027, with special attention to InvestEU and the ESF+. He also mentioned the need to contribute to other key initiatives such as the Green Deal, the European Pillar of Social Rights and the Industrial and SMEs strategies.
Monica Semedo declared that this internal meeting was a “happy moment”, she explained that her commitment with the SEIG is rooted in her belief that the social economy, as a driver of innovative initiatives with a societal objective, is fundamental to achieve a more Social Europe. She also referred to her consistent personal engagement with social organisations, and her knowledge of their significant social impact in terms of providing opportunities for everyone.
Manon Aubry defended the social economy as an enterprise and organisational model committed to fairness, redistribution of surpluses, solidarity, and economic democracy. She recalled that several EU Member States have enabling social economy policies and laws, which can inspire EU Institutions and Member States.
Isabel Benjumea attended the meeting on behalf of her colleague Leopoldo López, who was in an electoral mission to Peru. She expressed Mr. López’s and her own delight for the renewal of the Intergroup and their willingness to actively contribute to its activities. Along these lines, she wished all the best to her colleagues and Social Economy Europe in this exciting new chapter.
Jordi Cañas pointed out the demonstrated potential of the social economy to combine economic and social progress. To seize this potential, he emphasised on the need to improve the visibility of the social economy across the EU. Insisting on the importance of a common understanding. Along these lines, he called on the European Commission to come up with a recommendation on an inclusive social economy definition, that would be useful for Member States and public authorities wishing to develop legal and policy frameworks.
Social Economy Europe President Juan Antonio Pedreño, thanked the appointed co-Chairs and vice-Chairs, as well as the more than 100 MEPs who supported the renewal of the Social Economy Intergroup:
“Thanks to your engagement and our common work in favour of a European Action Plan, we are entering into a new era for the Social Economy”.
Mr. Pedreño stressed the strength of the team of co-Chairs and vice-Chairs, coming from different political groups and backgrounds; and the readiness of Social Economy Europe, its members and partners to support the actions of the Social Economy Intergroup.
This internal meeting was attended by over 45 people, including a representation of the offices of MEPs: Co-Chair Leszek Miller represented by his parliamentary assistant Marek Tomczyk, Alicia Homs, Lina Gálvez and Petra de Sutter, the Deputy Director-General for Social Economy of the Spanish Government, Juan Manuel Sánchez Terán, and a wide representation of SEE members and other EU social economy organisations.