Europe is building a social economy

23 European ministers met to support the common social economy. 1 credit

This is the first time. ESSR Secretary of State Olivia Grégoire chaired an informal ministerial conference (CMI) in Paris on the social economy at the European level, with the participation of Nicolas Schmitt, European Commissioner for Employment and Social Rights, and 23 ministers from around the world. Europe.

I wanted these months of the French Presidency to open with a social economy retreat. This is a historic event for the social economy,” said Olivia Gregoire at the opening.

Social economy at the center of the debate

French-led, this CMI aimed to put the social economy at the center of the economic recovery desired by the European Commission. Thus, the social economy becomes one of the 14 industrial ecosystems on which it intends to base its economic recovery from the impact of the health crisis on the economies of member countries. An economy that represents 2.8 million structures in various legal forms (cooperatives, partnerships, associations, foundations, social enterprises), 13 million employees and more than 10% of GDP in some countries such as Spain, Italy and France.

ESS France and Social Economy welcome the participation in this meeting of 23 members of the governments of the Member States of the European Union. “She is unparalleled. This should be seen as a strong indication of the growing interest in the social economy, its associations, cooperatives, mutual funds, foundations and social enterprises,” the joint press release reads.

Jérôme Saddieu, President of ESS France, said:

SSE recognition is progressing in Europe. France has a special responsibility in this movement. The commitment of organizations and companies to SSE is important and will be critical. The efforts of the French government have been effective, it is important that they continue in the coming years with their national and international partners.

23 European ministers present

Thus, no less than 23 European ministers took part in this informal ministerial conference (CMI), initiated by Minister Olivia Grégoire, to concretize the common desire to develop the social economy and harmonize its principles. European ministers have served in a wide variety of ministries, reflecting the heterogeneity of economic, social and environmental issues within Member States.

With the exception of France, which is an exception with its 2014 SSE framework law, Spain, Italy, and Belgium, few European countries have a very precise definition of the social economy.

Ten years after the Social Business Initiative, the first European Commission Action Plan to support social enterprises in Europe, which significantly increased their visibility, the European Commission published the Action Plan on December 9, 2021, presented by European Commissioner Nicolas Schmit of the European Parliament, to a dozen social entrepreneurs, in this Thursday morning.

To harmonize the social economy

At the Informal Ministerial Conference (IMC), European ministers agreed on the necessary impetus to harmonize the development of the social economy within the European Union.

To this end, European ministers have agreed:

  • Creation of the European Social Economy Portal which will determine all public policy and funding dedicated to the sector. Objectives: to improve the financing of the sector and to better inform the structures of the social economy.
  • Respect for national diversity on the notion of the social economy as the first basis for a common definition in the Action Plan.
  • The importance of raising awareness of the social economy in your countryas well as the need for a specific national legal framework to strengthen the social economy ecosystem, allowing the application of specific public policies and the display of existing labels or certificates at European level.
  • European Commission mapping project various national methodologies for measuring social performance. The ministers said they were ready to cooperate and share best practices in order to avoid “social laundry“.

This conference will allow for an exchange of views on the forthcoming recommendation of the Council on the development of framework conditions for the social economy in 2023. In the meantime, the ministers have asked the European Commission to involve the Group of Experts in Economics (GECES) in the implementation and monitoring of the action plan. The results will be presented to the EPSCO Council on March 14th.

Christina Diego

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