From Social Economy Europe

By Juan Antonio Pedreño & Víctor Meseguer

The release of the European Action Plan for the Social Economy by the European Commission is foreseen on Wednesday 8 December 2021: less than a month, if all goes as originally scheduled. As recently announced by Commissioners Schmit and Breton, the Action Plan will be accompanied by -at least- a working document -the Social Economy & Proximity Transition Pathways– aiming to kick-start a conversation and actions on the key transformations for the social economy ecosystem in the next 10 years.

From SEE, we have been working and advocating for this policy initiative since the European Elections of 2014 (seven years ago!) alongside our members, the EP’s Social Economy Intergroup, the EESC, the Committee of the Regions, and a growing number of Member States, among other stakeholders. In all fairness, we have also shared this adventure with the European Commission, its political leadership, and its services in DGs Employment and GROW.

Last weeks have been especially rich in inputs to the Social Economy Action Plan. On October 7 the Social Economy Intergroup gathered in San Sebastian to discuss about Social Economy as Industrial Ecosystem, the full report of the public hearing is available here. On October 12-13 we travelled to Ljubljana to participate in the ActSE2021 Conference, organised by our friends and partners Tadej Slapnik, Nena Dokuzov and Primož Šporar, among many other national and EU stakeholders. In Ljubljana, we also held the first edition of the European Social Economy Awards, a successful and enriching adventure that we will replicate in the second semester of 2023.

At the end of October the group the S&D Group in the European Parliament launched the report The Great Shift  which, among other levers of transformation, explores how the social economy can further contribute to fair transitions, and calls on the Commission to make sure the Social Economy Action Plan is aligned with current challenges, such as the need to collect and develop better social economy statistics; improve the attractiveness of careers in the social economy, and to facilitate social economy trans-national operations in the Single Market. The report also proposes to strengthen the Commission’s units working on social economy (DGs EMPL & GROW), to include the social economy as an essential part of the EU’s sustainable social finance taxonomy; to support the digitalisation of social economy enterprises; and to foster collaboration between traditional businesses and the social economy community. On November 4, the Union for the MediterraneanCEPES and GIZ (German Development Agency) organised the UfM Workshop Towards a New Social Economy Agenda for a sustainable and inclusive Mediterranean, that also explored how to use the EU Action Plan as a lever to boost the social economy at global level, with a focus on Europe’s southern mediterranean neighbourhood, building bridges between the south and the north of the Mare Nostrum.

The European Action Plan for the Social Economy is not the end, nor an end in itself, it is actually the beginning of renewed and strengthened EU policy agenda in to support the scale up of the Social Economy in Europe

The Social Economy Action Plan will be the main policy tool, the compass, to continue mainstreaming the social economy in key EU policies and structured dialogues as: the Industrial Strategy, the Pact for Skills, the European Pillar of Social Rights, the Social Taxonomy, Social Dialogue, the InvestEU, the Recovery and Resilience Plans and so on and so forth.

As  Commissioners Nicolas Schmit and Thierry Breton stressed during the Social Economy Intergroup hearing in San Sebastian; to achieve these objectives, to scale up the social economy, and make sure that our enterprises and organisations can be the protagonists of the fair transitions, all hands are needed! Let’s continue working, growing, transforming and building a better future.

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