10 MEPs visit Spain to find out more about the Social Economy

From Monday 21 to Wedneday 23 February, a delegation of 10 Members of the European Parliament, part of Employment and Social Affairs Committee, visited Spain to find out more about its social economy ecosystem. The delegation headed by Katrin LANGENSIEPEN MEP(Greens/EFA), vice-chair of the Employment and Social Affairs Committee, was composed of the following EMPL Members:

Antonius MANDERS (EPP, NL)

Marc ANGEL (S&D, L)

Jordi CAÑAS (Renew Europe, ES)




Eugenia RODRÍGUEZ PALOP (The Left, ES)



The ten MEPs met with Joaquín Pérez Rey, State Secretary for employment and social economy of Spain, and Maravillas Espin (Director General for Social Economy, CSR and Self-Employment), with the Economic and Social Committee of Spain, with the Employment Commission of the Spanish Parliament, with Juan Antonio Pedreño, President of Social Economy Europe (SEE) and CEPES, as well as with representatives of different social economy entities in Spain, as ONCE,  Mondragón Corporation, and the National Federations of Workers’s Cooperatives (COCETA), Labour Societies (LABORPAR),  Work Integration Social Enterprises (FAEDEI), and Foundations. 

This visit was therefore part of a continuous learning process aimed at improving the visibility and recognition of social economy in Europe in which Spain embraced a leading role. Actually, in 2011 Spain was the first European country to unanimously adopt a Social Economy Law, defining the social economy and all its components. The country has a dynamic social economy, as well as effective public policies for its promotion at the national, regional and local levels.

In his presentation to MEPs, SEE and CEPES President Juan Antonio Pedreño explained that social economy in Spain represents 2.3 million jobs, making it about 12% of the country’s employment. He recalled the importance of the central role that the social economy can play in addressing current challenges, covering a wide range of economic sectors.

In order to have a practical and field experience , MEPs visited at several innovative social economy enterprises and organisations as the Gedos San Diego education cooperative (GSD), which employs more than 1500 people, and ILUNION Industrial Laundries, (ILUNION Group is owned by ONCE Foundation), and in which 80% of the employees are people with disabilities.

Spain is a good model in terms of public policies for the development of the social economy across the EU. We need a strong reply from the social economy to provide solutions to current challenges as quality jobs creation, demographic transition, climate change and energy poverty. The EU cannot be just an economic or monetary union, it has to be a social Europe, and this must be one of the priorities for the EU in the 21st century
Katrin Langensiepen
MEP (Greens/EFA, DE), VP of EMPL Committee
It has been a honour to welcome this delagation of MEPs, strongly committed to fully develop the social economy across Europe as a driver of sustainable development, inclusion and fair transitions. These exchanges are fundamental to learn from each other and set up effective strategies for the growth of the social economy. This is social economy's time to scale up across Europe, and as it has always been the case, the European Parliament is an ally.
Juan Antonio Pedreño
Juan Antonio Pedreño
President of SEE

This study visit served to provide ideas and inspiration to continue working on the European Parliament’s report on the European Action Plan for Social Economy, whose rapporteur is Jordi Cañas MEP,  with the ultimate aim of encouraging the spread of social economy across Europe.

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