“Environmental, social and solidarity economy: turning the French exception into a European model”

Opening the French Presidency of the European Union, the President of the Republic called for the construction of a sovereign Europe capable of defending our values ​​and our interests in the world, in order to offer a different model of society. We, the entrepreneurs of the ecological, social and solidarity economy, respond to this call and hope that these words will come true.

Indeed, this other model of society is possible: we in France have supported it for years. It’s time to expand it beyond our borders to keep us competitive and drive sustainable and efficient economic growth. Our country, of course, is not the only one where social and solidarity enterprises account for more than 10% of GDP. Every day, 13.6 million citizens of Europe work, like us, in 2.8 million structures that promote industrial, food, cultural and energy sovereignty. And that’s without taking into account all the powerful companies that evolve every day using the same exchange models. These numbers are encouraging, but we must go further to increase the number of these companies that are the real engine of cohesion, solidarity and environmental innovation.

Last December, the European Commission unveiled an action plan for the development of the social economy. The time has come for the European Union to take into account this economy for what it is: a strategic sector of the economy that creates wealth and high value-added jobs that cannot be displaced, in activities with strong social and environmental impact.

We can always see the glass half empty and regret everything that is not yet in this plan. First of all, we would like to welcome the glass half full and consider the practical solutions it contains: a one-stop-shop for accessing European funding, a skills center for developing social innovation, supporting structures in their digital transformation, or even better access to public acquisition.

In no other country, except ours, does the social, solidarity and ecological economy have such a structure and recognition. We must welcome the fact that France is the first country to convene on 17 February the European Council of Ministers of the Social Economy, at the initiative of Minister Olivia Grégoire, to give weight and political orientation to the Commission. This event, which will certainly be a strong institutional gathering, still needs to be transformed into a fundamental economic act.

Unfair competition. If the European Union and Member States give this new economic model the scale it deserves, we will have the means to further develop our activities across Europe and create synergies to meet the challenges of our century. Climate change, inequality, unemployment, access to rights and instability are not limited to French borders. The single market must create European impact champions and protect them from unfair competition from those who thrive on inequality and exacerbate the climate crisis with their destructive actions.

It is clear that we are still waiting for specific proposals from candidates for the presidential elections. We propose to change the selection criteria for public procurement in favor of local procurement and leave part of public procurement for influential companies. The French Presidency of the European Union should be an opportunity to be seized to change European rules and ensure that powerful companies across Europe can finally receive support commensurate with their contribution to the common interest. We hope to find there the French government with the means of its ambitions!

Simon Bernard – CEO and co-founder of Plastic Odissey, Jean-Marc Borello – founder of Groupe SOS, Fabien de Castilla – co-CEO of Ares, Julie de Pimodan – founder of Fluicity, Pierrick de Ronn – president of Biocoop, Beatrice Eastham – founder of Green Evenements. Nicolas Froissart, co-director of SOS Group,
Thibaut Lamarck, President of Castalie, David Lorrain, Founder of RecycLivre, Jean Moreau, Founder of Phenix, Caroline Neuron, CEO of Impact France, Jérôme Sadier, President of Crédit coopératif and ESS France, Eva Sadun, Founder of Lita, Pierre-Emmanuel Saint-DGD, Spirit Zach (Manutan) and Stefan Vatinel, founder of Sinny & Ooko.

Leave a Comment