EP Report on the Social Economy Action Plan is coming!

In the context of the launch of the Social Economy Action Plan and specifically of the preparation of the EP own-initiative report on this historic initiative, on the 13th January 2022, an online webinar untitled Tapping into the full potential of the social economy took place. The latter was organised and hosted by Jordi Cañas MEP (Renew Europe, ES) who has the role of rapporteur for this initiative of the EP Employment Committee. 

Beyond this webinar, whose main results are summarised in this article, Jordi Cañas is also leading an EP study visit on social economy to Madrid, that will take place in late February, also involving shadow rapporteurs Heléne Fritzon (S&D, SE) , Katrin Langensiepen (Greens/EFA, DE), Margarita De la Pisa Carrión (ECR, ES) and Konstantinos Arvanitis (GUE/NGL, EL). The Regional Development Committee will also develop an opinion on the report led by Niyazi Kizilyürek (GUE/NGL, CY). 

Since the beginning of this EU mandate Renew Europe has defended that the social economy is the main driver for economic and social progress in Europe, key to achieve fair transitions that leave no one behind. Therefore, the social economy should be at the centre of the EU's economic, social and environmental policies.
Jordi Cañas
MEP Renew Europe, Spain

The event gathered on the one hand representatives of the EU institutions, namely Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, Nicolas Schmit, and Secretary of State for the social economy of the French government, Olivia Grégoire, representing the  French Presidency of the Council. On the other hand, it brought together key social economy stakeholders and experts, who are distinguished for their professional career in the field of social economy and among whom Juan Antonio Pedreño, President of Social Economy Europe, was invited to participate.

Implementing the Social Economy Action Plan- The European Commission's perspective

Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights Nicolas Schmit focused his keynote speech on the added value of social economy development and on the concrete actions that the Action Plan is setting forth.

Regarding the first point, he underlined that, by being able to bring  a positive social impact, social economy favors job creation, better working conditions, inclusion, equality, sustainable development and resilience while paving the way to fair digital and green transitions.

As far as the measures are concerned, the Commission commits to guarantee technical support, in particular in the areas of public procurement and taxation, new financial instruments and better access to information for social economy entities. In the same vein, it encourages social economy entrepreneurship in the Neighborhood countries as well as within EU borders, with a special attention to young European citizens.

Commissioner Schmit concluded by underlining once again that the current priority is the implementation of the Action Plan and his willingness to do so in collaboration with other EU Institutions, Member States and social economy stakeholders. 

Implementing the Social Economy Action Plan- The French Presidency of the Council's perspective

Olivia Grégoire, Secretary of State for the social economy and responsible economy of the French Government, underlined the fact that the Social Economy Action Plan marked a momentum in the EU, being an ambitious and  inspiring plan. It is for this reason that the French Presidency, along with social economy stakeholders, will work with determination towards the implementation of the Plan.

Among the core actions, Grégoire mentioned:

  1. Council recommendation by 2023, whereby the EPSCO Council commits to work in close cooperation with the Commission and Member States.
  2. Ministerial conference in Strasbourg on 17th February 2022 that gathers, for the first time, all European ministers in charge of the social economy. This is a great opportunity to analyse different models and opportunities so as to make use of social economy’s potential across Europe.

Implementing the Social Economy Action Plan- The perspective of the sector and experts

Juan Antonio Pedreño

Juan Antonio Pedreño, President of SEE

SEE President stressed that the Plan is a great achievement, that makes the EU a pioneer in the international sphere to create a strategy in this field. In this sense, the Plan offers an inclusive definition of the social economy, while acknowledging its potential in the different fields of European policies. In order to ensure social economy’s development, it is necessary to thrive its benefits across the EU on the one hand through existing projects and through financing projects, on the other, in those areas where social economy is not that present. To fully achieve the Social Economy Action Plan, cooperation is needed. Only by working together, hand in hand, we will be able to unlock the full potential of the social economy and trigger the democratic and inclusive entrepreneurial revolution that we want to see in Europe. Europe's youth should be able to start up its ventures and projects through social economy models, inspired by our values of togetherness, democracy, solidarity and people first. In short, the future is in our hands, and the Social Economy Action Plan gives us the instruments to achieve our dreams. In Pedreño's opinion, all levels of government should share a convergent/synergic agenda on social economy starting with:

Strengthening the potential of social economy in such a multilevel system will especially be possible with the Commission’s commitment to put forward a Council recommendation by 2023.

Juan Antonio Pedreño, President of SEE
Giulio Pasi

Giulio Pasi, Scientific Officer at the Joint Research Center of the European Commission

Mr. Pasi underlined that the Social Economy Action Plan is not a mere list of actions, but it rather promotes a social effervescence, meaning that it puts forth a new vision of the Social Economy at the service of the people, the state, the market and the environment. Although some accompanying measures could evolve towards a stronger nature, it is undeniably true that the Action Plan stresses the importance of social economy in reinforcing Social Europe. Taking a step back, to make social economy flourish, it is necessary to raise awareness among citizens and stakeholders as well as to consider social economy as a transversal force able to pave the way to a new generation of policies.

Peter_Surek

Peter Surek, Chief Executive Officer at Erste Social Finance Holding

Mr. Surek focused on how the launch of the Plan contributed to awareness-raising, that has been reflected in the mainstream media coverage of social economy. At the same time, the Action Plan contains fundamental guidelines for member states to foster its implementation as well as take full advantage of the social economy’s potential. Among the projects that see social economy in action, Erste in collaboration with the Slovakian government, put forth a scheme of affordable social housing devoted to homeless people or people in economic difficulties. By recalling the importance of turning ambitions into practice, he stressed the pivotal role that the EU will be playing in the near future in accompanying social economy entities to scale up. This will lead not only to the diffusion of the social economy business model, but it will also contribute to render social economy mainstream.

Rita-Casimiro

Rita Casimiro, Head of Acceleration at MAZE

Ms. Casimiro acknowledged the completeness of the Action Plan in, on the one hand, taking into consideration its various and diverse nature and in presenting, on the other, solutions to allow social economy ecosystem to grow and develop. In this sense, she presented the development of this ecosystem in Portugal, that was enabled by collaboration at an initial stage, commitment from the different stakeholders, a constant focus on feasibility and eventually an interest in sharing experiences, knowledge, and networks. While recognizing the valuable and ambitious character of the Plan, she supported the idea of building a social economy that is attractive in order to develop its full potential in providing solutions and creating value. Furthermore, receiving concrete details on the specificities at the core of the Action Plan could be an added value for its future implementation.

Author: Sara Bombardieri, Policy and Communication Assistant at Social Economy Europe

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