Social economy is now on EU ministers’ agenda

By | September 22, 2014

Press release from ENSIE, the European network of Social Integration Enterprises, an associate partner in the Social Economy in Higher Education project

EU Ministers for employment and social affairs have now started to see the importance of social economy. Discussions on social economy took place for the first time in July at an informal meeting in Milan of the EPSCO Council, under the Italian Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

The Council, the European Commission, Member States representatives, social partners and the Social Platform shared their points of view on the social economy, the opportunities it offers and how it needs to be developed.

Mr Poletti, Italy’s Minister for Labour and Social Policies, and Mr Andor, European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion both stressed the increasing importance of the social economy sector, especially in this period of crisis. They stated that social economy has positive effects on social cohesion, inclusive growth and on reaching the EU 2020 Strategy headline targets.

Several speakers thanked the Italian Presidency for having put social economy on the agenda. Currently, almost every Member State is working in order to create a ”favourable climate” for social economy enterprises. Nevertheless, challenges remain due to the lack of a clear definition for the social economy and little awareness of the sector in some countries. So some Member States are more advanced in the social economy development, but for others, the topic is quite new. 

Patrizia Bussi, ENSIE’s coordinator, and member of the Social Platform delegation to Milan in tandem with Heater Roy, Social Platform’s President, underlined the urgent need to make a clear distinction between social economy and corporate social responsibility.  They also stressed three other important messages:

·         European Institutions must continue the work launched with the Social Business Initiative to support the recognition and development of social economy and social enterprises;

·         Member States have to unlock the employment potential of social economy, in particular in the social and health services sector;

·         An “ecosystem” for the development of social economy and social enterprise must be created at both EU and national level.

The prospects for the development of social economy at EU and at national level are good. The different European, national, regional and local stakeholders must continue to support this positive process.

The whole Social Platform contribution is available here