The proposal for a Council Recommendation On Developing Social Economy Framework Conditions published by the Commission on June 13 represents another important milestone in the international momentum that Social Economy (SE) is experiencing since the launch of the Social Economy Action Plan by the Commission (December 2021), the recommendations of the ILO and the OECD (June 2022), the Transition Pathway for the Proximity and Social Economy (November 2022) and the resolution of the United Nations (April 2023). All these initiatives recognise the supportive and essential role Social Economy is playing for a fair, inclusive and sustainable economic and industrial development as well as its contribution to territorial cohesion and its stimulation towards social innovation. In the framework of this international momentum, it is crucial that the EU makes a priority of developing essential conditions to promote Social Economy amongst the 27 Member States.
Social Economy Europe (SEE) has elaborated a white paper with which it would like to encourage MS to adopt the recommendation and takes the opportunity to underline that if EPSCO will be deciding about the outcome of the recommendation, developing framework conditions for SE is about much more than labour and social inclusion, it is also about supporting other EU policies and their implementation, such as the European Pillar of Social Rights, accelerating the digital and environmental transitions, supporting the EU industrial strategy (at EU, national and local levels), the Gender Equality strategy 2020-2025, the European Care Strategy, the European Strategy on the Rights of the Child, the Reinforced Youth Guarantee, the Proposal for a Council recommendation on strengthening social dialogue in the European Union… It is also about boosting a lively civil society ecosystem which nourishes a truly democratic Europe. In that regard and in addition, the European Commission’s proposal for a legislative initiative on cross-border activities of associations is expected to complement this Council Recommendation.
SEE would also like to stress the diversity of economic and legal models, and the diversity of SE’s participation to social and economic development and the approach of inclusiveness that founds the transformative power of the Social Economy. This is crucial for the recognition of the important impact of SE in the economic, industrial and local development, all the most as SE also participates to the development of non-relocatable jobs.
SEE calls the EPSCO Council to support and strengthen the entrepreneurial and social innovation dimensions of the Social Economy as well- together with its contribution to social inclusion- in the final recommendation. Only such an open and inclusive approach can encompass the multifold dimensions of social economy which is transversal to all sectors of activities and almost all policy fields. In fact, Social Economy is not “a sector” but an economy built on strong humanistic values: the primacy of people as well as social and/or environmental purpose over profit; solidarity, democracy, social cohesion or territorial commitment.
The analysis made by SEE points out some important elements and suggest some key improvements to take into consideration during the recommendation’s negotiations.
As the recommendation is not binding (even though it aims to be monitored once adopted), it is crucial that unanimity on the most ambitious version is adopted, this means concretely adopting strong policies and legal frameworks for the development of flourishing social economy ecosystem across the EU, co-designed with SE actors. In fact, for the recommendations to be properly implemented, it is essential that strong collaboration between SE representatives and national as well as local governments are built where they do not exist, and strengthened where they exist.
What SE enterprises and organizations are calling for is not privileges, it is about creating a level playing field with mainstream enterprises, to support an economy that answers the real societal and environmental challenges the EU is facing. Because only by changing the way we produce and consume, we will be able to overcome the failures of today’s economy that brought us to permanent and multifold crisis. Because the XXIst century needs a sustainable people centred economy.