State of play, legal framework and social impact
The ESF Social Economy Thematic Network convened two sessions at the SEE2 – Scaling up Social Economy Enterprises in South East Europe – conference in Ljubljana on 24-25 April 2017, following the pattern set at the Slovakian presidency conference in Bratislava in November 2016. Both were chaired by Dorotea Daniele, who as well as being the Thematic Expert is the rapporteur on legal frameworks for GECES, the Commission’s Expert Group on Social Entrepreneurship.
The plenary session addressed the issue of legal frameworks for the social economy – a live issue in south-eastern European countries – and compared the structures in Spain, Luxembourg and Poland.
The workshop looked at ways in which the ESF can stimulate social innovation, comparing the approaches of Flanders and Sweden.
A. The Thematic Network sessions
The network led one workshop and one plenary session at the conference.
1. Workshop 2: how to use ESF to support innovative social economy project (24 April)
Moderator: Dorotea Daniele
Present: 35 participants at SEE2 – Scaling up Social Economy Enterprises in South East Europe conference
This workshop informed participants of two approaches to stimulating innovation in ESF calls for proposals.
Dorotea presented the Social Economy Thematic Network, which has a high degree of continuity with about half of its Member States having also taken part in its predecessors BFSE and SEN. Participation is open, and currently taking part are PL (lead), BEfr, BEnl, BG, CY, CZ, EL, ES, HR, HU, SE, SI and SK. Among its mutual learning activities, it has held a peer review on finance and in June will tackle municipal social enterprise.
1.1 Flanders – Karel Vanderpoorten
Flanders issues 3 types of calls:
- Innovation via exploration (IVE) – for radical innovation,
- Innovation via adaptation (IVA) – for incremental innovation,
- Procurement – social and conventional enterprises working together.
IVE and IVA were launched 18 months ago:
IVE is targeted at services which support people’s wellbeing and development. It focuses on a challenge, not a concept. It works through a ‘double diamond’ process, wherein:
- phase 1: a 6-month discovery period ends with the definition of the innovation,
- a ‘gate’ when the project is assessed by experts, followed if successful by:
- phase 2: a 6-month development period wherein the innovation is piloted.
Funding is €50,000 for phase 1 and €150,000 for phase 2. A lot of projects are winnowed out at the ‘gate’. Assessment is by a panel of 4: the MA, a thematic expert (normally from a university), a business expert, and an expert with experience of the terrain and the target group. This works well. In the second call projects are obliged to include a trainer.
An example is the Single Parents in the Labour Market project.
In contrast IVA aims to help providers to understand their service in context, adapt it, evaluate it and codify it. An example is the Geknipt (‘Cut’) project on job crafting and job carving, which was based on the Dutch Disworks project and the Finnish RATKO model. It analyses existing jobs into tasks and reassembles them into new sustainable jobs, and has been implemented in several sectors.
More information is available in the Toolkit for Supporting Social Innovation with the ESIFs.
The Creative Cities programme on youth unemployment encourages suburban creativity by setting up temporary hubs in vacant buildings.
Flanders also works on bringing the mainstream and social economies together. This did not work on an individual level from fear of unfair competition. This now being tried at the organisational level. Three agencies have been chosen to pilot co-operation models and to act as matchmakers. Each of them will test 3 models, so in total there will be 9 pilots. Work will start in June. Each pilot will have a 6-month duration with a test after 3 months. Those agencies that succeed will receive more orders, and those that do not will not.
1.2 Sweden – Anna-Lena Wettergren-Wessman
Sweden has 1 national OP + 7 regional OPs, which have been developed through discussion between the Ministry of Labour and stakeholder including the social economy. The social economy was also represented in the socio-economic analysis used to compile the regional action plans. The Structural Fund Partnerships, which also include the social economy, decide the content of the calls and select the projects.
Social innovation started long ago. It is not identical to the social economy, but the SE is the second-largest ESF beneficiary, after municipalities. We ask for 50% cofinancing at national level (a little less when working with severely disadvantaged people). This contributes to sustainability, as it means promoters have to bring in other partners, including in this period private and charitable organisations.
In the IOP in this period, social economy-public agreements are new, but there are some doubts about competition. The Public Procurement Authority is working with Finland on how to use social clauses. This demands a lot of lobbying to counter over-enthusiastic interpretation of rules. Examples can be found on the SEN website.
In discussion, Piotr Wolkowiński mentioned that France uses a ‘triple facilitation. Model whereby experts advise both authorities and companies on how to use social clauses.
The Bulgarian Ministry of the Economy asked wat social innovation means in an ESF context – does it have to end by creating jobs? No – Sweden uses the ‘fluffy’ EC definition; it is up to the project promoter to show the social innovation. For Flanders it is about services to increase employability and the wellbeing of workers and disadvantaged people.
2. Plenary round table: Legislation for social enterprise – legal framework, main elements and concrete examples (25 April)
Moderator: Dorotea Daniele
This round table gave an overview of the different approaches to legislation for social enterprises, with examples from Spain, Luxembourg and Poland. The lesson is that there is no perfect framework; governments should act pragmatically, by adapting existing laws to create a framework within which social enterprises can thrive.
A: European level:
2.1 Mojca Štepic, State Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister, Slovenia
The social, economy is a priority axis in Slovenia’s Structural fund operational programme, and Slovenia wants to create a supportive system which will, increase the scope and number of jobs in the social economy sector. It is happy to see partnerships being built at this conference.
2.2 Dorotea Daniele, DIESIS, GECES and the Thematic Expert of the SETN
GECES set up a legal working group, since a good legal framework is part of a better environment for the growth of social enterprises. For two years it has worked on statutes, public procurement and state aid, and in its report asks the European Commission to propose a recommendation that lays down minimum principles to encourage and support Member States in establishing a dedicated legal framework to develop social enterprises. We do not call for uniform European legislation, since legislation must fit with different national traditions.
2.3 Apostolos Ioakimidis, social economy legal expert, ex-DG GROW
The European Commission’s work on the social, economy started with its communication Businesses in the Social Economy Sector in 1989. This led to proposals for statutes for co-operatives, mutuals and associations which were submitted to the Council in 1992 and emended in 1993. They aimed to enable SEEs to set up in Member States that did not even know what the social economy was, and to place SEEs on an even footing with conventional companies which could use the Societas Europea to trade at European level. In the end only the co-operative statute was adopted, and the other two were withdrawn.
There was then a pause until the Social Business Initiative was launched in October 2011. The term ‘social economy’ was still undefined, and the Commission did not wish to get involved in theological debates, so was anxious that the SBI should not set up barriers to entry to this ‘paradise’. And so today, the Commission is reluctant to propose to Member States a model law, since it would not be unanimously approved by the Council (which is also the reason for the withdrawal of the proposed statutes for the European mutual, foundation and private company).
In 650 BC Zalefkos of Locri proposed that anyone proposing a law should appear with a rope around his neck, and that if his proposal failed, he should immediately be strangled. No European commissioner merits this treatment. Yet there are still significant barriers to the social economy – for instance in Greece a foundation is not considered to be an enterprise.
2.4 Victor Messeguer, Director, Social Economy Europe
Social Economy Europe’s view is that a clear understanding of what the social economy is does not hinder diversity. It is all based on values and principles agreed in 2002 by the co-operatives, mutual, associations and foundations. There are 3 main principles:
- primacy of the individual over capital,
- democratic or participative governance,
- reinvestment of most of the profits.
The first three Member States to adopt laws in the social economy – Spain, France and Portugal – have recognised this.
The SBI was very positive – but it created some confusion because some people think that the social, economy is only social, enterprises or work integration social enterprises (WISEs) – whereas it is much wider. It’s not what you do, it’s how you do it.
The social economy is not about ideology – the proof is that governments of different hues support it. It is not a separate economy, but a plural one. We should finish with ideological debates, and focus on enterprises.
B: National level:
2.5 Juan Manuel Sánchez-Terán Lledó, Spain – the Spanish social economy law
Spain was the first country to adopt a framework law for the whole of the social economy. The social economy is recognised at the highest level, in article 129 of the constitution of 1978, which lays down that the government shall encourage co-operatives and worker ownership of the means of production. Law 5/2011 defines 11 types of co-operatives. The regions all have their own legislation on top of the national law.
The social economy is taken to comprise co-operatives, worker-owned companies (SALs), mutual, associations, foundations social integration enterprises, social employment centres, agricultural transformation organisations and fishermen’s associations, plus any other organisations that comply with the principles.
A council has been set up as a quadripartite consultative body among the public administration (national and regional), social economy bodies (such as CEPES), individual experts and trade unions.
The social economy provides 2.2 million direct and indirect jobs and is composed of 200,000 organisations, of which 30,000 are co-operatives and SALs which directly employ 350,000 people.
Spain’s operational programme for social inclusion and the social economy has a value of €800 million of ESF funds, of which €34 million is for the promotion of the social economy. CEPES works with investment priorities 8.3 and 9.5:
- IP 8.3: €3.8m – 23 projects expecting to create 475 enterprises,
- IP 9.5: €1.5m – 13 projects approved to create 35 WISEs.
2.6 Jean-Christophe Burkel, Director, ULESS, Luxembourg – the Social Impact Company
Social enterprises have existed in Luxembourg for over a century, but the concept – Sozialwirtschaftliche Betriebe – has not taken root in Luxembourg. The social sector makes up 8% of the country’s economy and provides over half of childcare, elderly care and private health insurance. Nevertheless it was invisible so in 2009 the government decided to promote the social and solidarity economy, and set up ULESS, the Union Luxembourgeoise de l'Economie Sociale et Solidaire.
It was established in 2013 and is promoting non-profit activity in a very pragmatic way. This is why the word ‘social’ was dropped from the name of the Société d’Impact Sociétal (SIS), which was introduced in 2016. It defines SISs according to three criteria:
- a clear social, impact with annual indicators,
- limited profit distribution,
- a tax advantage.
Nevertheless there is a subjective element, and enterprises have to be accredited. Is the European Investment Bank a SIS?
Each country should develop its own approach. For example Luxembourg is not a country of co-operatives, so does not include a criterion of democratic management.
Governments should adapt the laws they already have. The Luxembourg law was not created in a top-down way, but because associations were growing. It took the existing law on limited companies and extended it to provide for not-for-profit companies. This only required small changes to a 200-year-old law based on the Napoleonic code. What is important for governments is to ensure that there is:
- a law,
- a minister in charge,
- institutionalised dialogue – in Luxembourg through ULESS.
Government should find someone to talk to, and develop a tailor-made framework. What is needed from the European Commission is not another definition, but practical help.
2.7 Piotr Wolkowiński – the evolution of the legislative process or social enterprises in Poland
Poland saw a rapid evolution. The social economy is not all beautiful – it is also a struggle. It started in Poland 120 years ago with industrialisation, but after World War II the sector was taken over by communism – indeed the housing co-operatives still follow this model and are not active in today’s social, economy. Both the Ministry of Development and the ministry of Family etc. are active.
Then came liberation! It was decided that in a free market economy co-operatives were not needed, and the third sector was forgotten. So Poland is late to develop a social economy. It looked at Italy and its law on social co-operatives, but legislation was not introduced.
The European social economy conferences in 2002 in Prague and in 2004 in Kraków changed a lot, as did the EQUAL programme, as a result of which some 40 social co-operatives were established.
The first law on social co-operatives came in 2006. It was based on the Italian social co-operative law, but hardened the definition; in Italy 30% of members must be disadvantaged, but in Poland the figure was put at 100% – which of course made the model infeasible. Professor Ewa Leś took a delegation of MPs to Italy, which improved their understanding, and the law was softened. The end of EQUAL came as a titanic shock. Some of the 50 or so local support structures (OWESs) that had been established survived, but others collapsed. The lesson here is not to rely 100% on ‘project’ finance.
The law on Social and Solidarity Economy is now on the stocks. It is inspired by the French model. It sees public procurement as a source of support. This is a model of triple facilitation. A facilitating organisation (1) helps local authorities to write calls for proposals; (2) helps the co-operatives who bid for contracts; and (3) helps the individual beneficiaries. The lesson is that we need to build the capacity to bid for public contracts. Note that the UK established a fund to do this. The ESF can start top-down. Poland is working hard, inspired by Portugal, Germany and Finland. And cities can innovate, as Gdańsk is doing in the URBACT programme.
B. The rest of the conference
3. Welcoming speeches
The Slovenian and Serbian governments are keen to promote the social economy as a modern sector of the economy and a south-east European regional federation is bring founded.
After a welcome by Tadej Slapnik, State Secretary in the office of the prime minister responsible for the social economy, Miro Cerar, the Slovenian prime minister, set out the government’s policy. The social economy is one of Slovenia’s key priorities because it promotes a green, circular and sustainable economy and new technology. The number of social economy enterprises has tripled, creating jobs and enabling young people to experiment and create their own housing. The Luxembourg presidency achieved a lot, with 7 Member States signing the Luxembourg Declaration. It sends the message that the EU should support an ecosystem for the social economy as it modernises the single market. The social economy must be included in the EU’s strategy to raise GDP, create jobs and improve the quality of life. Slovenia is the bridge between the EU and south-eastern Europe.
Zdravko Počivalšek, Minister of Economic Development and Technology said that in the EU the social economy is composed of 2 million social enterprises providing 14m jobs and 7% of GDP. They create social value by sharing their profits to create benefits for their members – which is not common among companies. The social economy is not new to Slovenia; the long co-operative tradition can easily be transferred to a modern concept. It is important for countries and regions to exchange good practices, and it is important that we work together to benefit society.
Aleksandar Vulin, Serbian Minister of Labour, called for synergy. He hopes that politicians will learn from social entrepreneurs and get new ideas.
Serbia still has no law to regulate the social economy. The country abolished everything to do with socialism, and now, decades later, we realise this was not so clever and we have to go back to principles of solidarity. The social economy has an important role to play in creating employment and in helping marginalised people to regain dignity and a decent existence. Addicts, offenders, victims of trafficking should not be judged harshly, and told they are not needed as they are not economically strong enough, or do not meet our standards. The social economy sends the message that when you fall, someone will help you up. Serbia is now revamping its law, and wants to learn from other countries.
Ivo Wajgl MEP praised conference participants for being active and wanting to change the world and to co-operate. The European Parliament has seen a revival of interest in the social economy. Research shows that only 6 EU countries have a clear definition of social entrepreneurship, while 7 more cover it partially. But most MSs have no binding definition. This has to be done at national level. We should not waste energy on ideology or think that the word “social” means “socialism” or “liberal” means “neo-liberal”. We should be pragmatic. We all need to work to bring the south-east European region together. All countries in the region have the right to join the EU and governments have the duty to prepare for EU membership.
Mojca Žganec Metelko, General Secretary of the Slovenian Forum of Social Entrepreneurship. The forum was founded in 2011 as an interlocutor for social enterprises, which have grown from 60 to 120 in the last year and are active in many sectors. The social economy does not mean social assistance – it produces results by for instance creating jobs and recycling waste. Business tools such as finance are needed. This requires recognition and equal status with other business. The Slovenian government recognises this. A social economy south-eastern Europe network is now being founded.
4. Round table 1: The state of play in Europe’s social economy
Dennis Stokkink gave the history of the Social Business Initiative and highlighted the Luxembourg presidency’s Boosting Social Enterprise event in December 2015 which put forward the concept of social economy enterprise and made a call for action. Then, in December 2016 in Bratislava, GECES presented 13 recommendations, divided into 4 themes: visibility and recognition; finance; legal environment; and international development.
Ulla Engelmann, DG GROW, said that the Commission takes the GECES report seriously and has an inclusive approach – see the Start-Up and Scale-Up Initiative, the Juncker white paper and the pillar of social rights. It set up an internal task force in January 2017, which is working in 5 areas: funding (FISMA); markets (update of Buying Social); framework conditions; social innovation, technology and new business models; and the international dimension (NEAR & EEAS). It is updating the mapping study including 4 in-depth country studies. A social enterprise, the MolenGeek coding school, won the Social Innovation competition. DG GROW is preparing a pack for delegations.
Goran Svilanović, Secretary General of the Regional Cooperation Council, said that on the road to EU accession the RCC has developed a growth strategy with 3 flagships: competitiveness (including a regional investment agreement as a framework for investors); skills and mobility (including automatic recognition of diplomas and standardisation of core professions); and connectivity (a single communications area, market and labour market). It has focused on employment and neglected social affairs, but there is also scope for social economy enterprises. In 2014 it carried out a study on social economy development which revealed that the region lacks legal frameworks and needs: a clear distinction from conventional enterprises; financial incentives (grants and loans), networks and support centres; and advocacy and lobbying. The RCC believes there is a strong rationale to develop the social economy.
Jaime Vera Calonje, EIF Investment Manager, Social and Environmental Impact, set out the EFSI Social Impact Window, which contains payment by results, a social impact accelerator which targets fast-growing social enterprises (€243m). The SIA is a public-private partnership between the EIB, EIF, Crédit Coopératif, SITRA and other funds. €105m is deployed in 10 EU countries. It makes equity investments and support incubators.
Nicolas Schmit, Luxembourg’s Minister of Labour, employment and Social and Solidarity Economy, said that this conference is an important political signal for Europe and for the region. Spain is continuing the work of the Luxembourg and Slovak presidencies and will meet in Madrid in May. An active role of the Commission is vital in giving the tools for progress, and he welcomes its new commitment. The Parliament and EESC are important allies. The EIB recognised the importance of the social economy very early. The social fabric has been shaken in this part of Europe so we have to rebuild the foundations of democracy. The social economy is close to the people, a grassroots economy where you can rapidly see the benefits for people. We need to address youth unemployment and give young people the chance to use their skills. There is no contradiction between globalisation and local development. Local development can buffer the effects of globalisation. As Delors said, we need cohesion, the other side of the coin of an open market. We are on the right track and have put the social economy on both the EU agenda and the regional co-operation agenda.
There was an active debate. During it a speaker from Kosovo asked whether there were plans for a one-stop shop for social enterprises, The South-East Europe Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning exists. Ulla Engelmann replied that there are. Slovenia is in 3 Macroregional Strategy areas – Alpine, Danube and Adriatic-Ionian – so there is potential for instance to work on clusters.
5. Round table 2 – state of play of the social and solidarity economy in south-east Europe
Moderator: Victor Messeguer (Social Economy Europe)
Jozo Radoš MEP (HR) said that the absence of legal frameworks is an opportunity to start from scratch and build an advanced model of social economy. The Berlin Process provides $10bn over 7 years for 6 countries. It should be extended to develop common policies on the judiciary, education, civil society and the social economy. He will propose this formally to NEAR.
Tadej Slapnik noted that when he visited Mondragón in 2012 they said they had learnt a lot from Yugoslavia’s self-governing socialism, and could not understand how attitudes changed after independence so that ‘fierce capitalism’ was seen as the only model. The rethink started before the financial crisis hit, and at the end of 2011 parliament adopted the law on social economy unanimously. In 2014 the social economy became a strategic priority for the Slovenian government. There is a strong political will, with 7 ministries involved. So we can achieve a lot. Now the social economy makes up 0.7% of Slovenia’s GDP but it has great potential. We are midway in creating 50,000 jobs. Registrations and finance are up and we are active at both EU and regional levels.
Goran Jeras, Co-operative for Ethical Finance (HR), remarked how astonishing it was that we went from 100% social enterprise to less than 1%. The co-operative started by identifying people who believe that all economy should be social – if it is not social, what is it? So, we started with the money. After 3 years the co-operative has over 1,050 members, one-third of which are companies, including farms, a shipyard and spaceship manufacturer. All share the idea that the economy should ensure the wellbeing of the country. The largest co-operative in Croatia accounts for 5% of the country’s co-op members. There are 80-100 social enterprises in Croatia. Many employers will accept a lower profit rather than lay off employees, so they have some social economy principles. We encourage collaboration since the social economy is close to the collaborative economy. So we focus not on start-ups, but in modifying the behaviour of existing companies, such as food processors, hotels and restaurants. We encourage them to source food locally, which stems rural depopulation. It is all on a small scale, but we have planted a seed – that a firm’s behaviour can have a community impact.
We have a bank licence – the first granted for 18 years – and are collecting a capital of €10.5m. We hope to start a process of transformation. A sister organisation in Slovenia has started, so things are moving in the right direction. Slovenia could be a good role model for the region.
Neven Marinović, Smart Kolektiv (RS), reported that Serbia has nothing to brag about. There are some active co-operatives, but none of them are social. There are a handful of social enterprises, most of which have arisen from associations, for instance those for disabled people. 70% of them are microenterprises turning over less than €15,000 a year. They still depend on support and are no ready to scale up. There is still a legacy of a lack of business skills. There is some financial support for social, services and SMEs, nut little that is specific to social enterprise. Erste Bank gives some support, and the EVPA is trying to start a regional fund.
Anastasia Andritsou, British Council, reported that in Greece 704 social enterprises have registered, 82% of them in Attica. They make up 2% of GDP. The 2011 law restricted social enterprises to 3 types, but the 2016 law is better: it defines workers’ co-operatives, social co-operatives and other types of co-operative. The British Council has won a technical assistance contract which covers mapping, legal structures, support and capacity building. The Greek government wants to launch an investment fund.
Vasili Veselin noted that Emmanuel Macron has included a chapter on the social economy in his programme, including collaboration between social and conventional enterprises and preference in public procurement. The main thing is political will.
6. Social innovation for societal impact
This session, sponsored by the EIB, focused on finance-led social entrepreneurship.
Rodney Schwartz presented Clearly So, which is a for-profit company (for which he makes no apology). It acts as an intermediary between impact investors and social enterprises to arrange finance of amounts between €300k and €20m. It has done 130 deals worth €150m, which makes it the largest impact investor in Europe. You find impact in all sorts of organisations, not just social enterprises. It is working with the EIB to increase the economic resilience of the western Balkans.
Christophe Birkholz, Impact Hub Zürich, echoed the opinion that social entrepreneurship is found outside social enterprises. The Hub’s aim is to change the whole economy which treats people as ‘resources’. It promotes purpose, irrespective of profit-making. It has a €7m turnover and has 14 workers, and has a corporate client which pays it to promote social enterprises. There are 90 Hubs worldwide.
Teia Ciulacu, Recicleta (RO) said that data enables us to take better decisions. There are 3 areas where technology can help: methodological support to start-ups, accessibility and scalability.
Pezana Rexha (Design by Pana (AL) presented the example of a social enterprise that employs 16 marginalised and disabled workers making ecological furniture. It addresses the problem of orphans turning to crime as they cannot live on €30 p.m. it is driven by passion.
During discussion, panellists agreed that skills come before money – the quality of the team is more important than the finance. Rodney Schwartz said that while SEs may bring a lower return, they are also less risky since people care more whether they fail.
7. Social impact investing in social economy enterprises
This session informed participants of numerous sources of funding.
Primož Šporar, Sklad 05 (SI), has invested €2m in 300 SEs in 3 years. It tries to build impact chains from product design, through finance to sales and marketing. It tries to create ‘impact molecules’, i.e. groupings to tackle complex problems, whose ‘atoms’ are held together by trust.
Mika Pyykkö, SITRA (FI), has an endowment of €800m which gives an annual income of €40-50m. It is independent and is using an SIB – i.e. payment by results – as a Trojan house to improve the quality of public expenditure. The vehicle itself (the SIB) is not the issue. SITRA encourages the government to focus on prevention – for instance the massive social costs of smoking. It has 6 SBs in areas such as diabetes and independence in old age. Finland has 20,000 SEs but only a few want to be labelled as such, so we call them ‘impact actors’. Its aim is to challenge government, spark impact actors and combine this into an experimental culture. Successes can then be scaled up with public money.
Sibil Svilan, SID Banka (SI) is a promotional, export and development bank with €3.5bn in assets that addresses issues such as self-employment, housing and jobs for disadvantaged people.
The ESF contributes €717m to Thematic Objectives 8 & 9, which is disbursed only through grants, but various best practices show how financial instruments can work.
Giancarlo Miranda, Banca Prossima (IT) explained why the Intesa Sanpaolo, a profit-making bank group, finances SEs in 29 countries. First it is less risky – only 3.1% of loans are non-performing, which is 5 times less than the economy at large. This is partly a result of volunteer support. Secondly they are more resilient, show lower turnover and faster growth.
Intesa Sanpaolo set up Banca Prossima in 2001 with a staff of 30 – there are now 400. It has €1.7bn of loans to 58,000 clients. It has adapted its evaluation model – for instance it takes account of donations, which are normally ignored. It focuses on working capital loans, not equity. In 201 it made a profit of €9.8m on this €1.7bn of loans – which is not bad!
Deborah Smart, Social Investment Business (UK) has invested €400m – €175m in grants and €235m in loans, to 2,000 charities and SEs. It is moving more towards loans as clients’ investment readiness grows. The UK social sector comprises 160,000 charities and 70,000 social enterprises, which together turnover £60bn a year – 4% of GDP – and employ 1.5m people. Demand is 58% for unsecured borrowing, but supply does not match this. Lending to SEs is secure if done right.
Chiara Casarella and Jana Volkova, Interreg Central Europe secretariat said that Interreg has 107 programmes which include work on entrepreneurial skills, inclusion and migration. Interreg has a migration task force.
Lodovico Gherardi, ADRION: the Adriatic Interreg programme has €100m and covers 8 countries: EL, IT, HR, RO, AL, BH and SR. The Dubrovnik declaration asked all ETC programmes to include migration, but it is hard to create projects that have a macroregional dimension.
8. Final plenary
Alain Coheur, EESC & SEE, said that the EESC has set up a permanent study group on the social economy and has recently issued opinions on finance and innovation. It has good collaboration with the presidencies, and the Madrid conference will raise visibility further. The Commission is aware of the need for an action plan.
Miguel Crespo Garcia, Head of the Social Economy Service, Ministry of Employment and Social Security (ES) presented the 2015-6 Boosting the Social Economy programme mandated by the 2011 law. It had 4 objectives: the ecosystem, internationalisation, the national and international role of the SE, and promoting CSR in the social economy. It resulted in 2 messages, among them being tax incentives for job creation, a tax break for sheltered workshops, social clauses in procurement, participatory reserves, stakeholder dialogue, youth jobs, collective entrepreneurship and self-employment, and a new SALs law. The ESF OP has €800m for social economy. The service is now working on a social economy strategy for 2017-20.
Marko Pavić, State Secretary, Ministry of Labour and Pension System (HR) has a €38m ESF budget and has published a €1m call on social economy which is funding 20 projects. Next month it will issue a €3.4m call on social entrepreneurship. The Croatian definition of the social enterprise is an NGO, co-operative or conventional company that reinvests at least 25% of its profits. In practice most SEs come from NGOs. A major challenge is the unstable political framework, as there are frequent changes of government.
Tadej Slapnik again recalled the Luxembourg Declaration and called for stronger co-operation to increase recognition and visibility, and stronger EU support. The definition of social enterprise should be based on mutual recognition.
Denis Stokkink concluded that Slovenia has a bridge role; the social economy is rich and diverse; a supportive public environment is needed, and countries should co-operate to achieve it. Action at EU level is crucial. The EU should be proud to be the only part of the world where the social economy is so well recognised and supported.
Author: Dorotea Daniele
- programme: https://institute.eib.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/Programme-SEE2-Scaling-Up-social-Economy-Enterprises-in-South-East-Europe.pdf
- press report: http://www.slovenia.si/visit/features/conference-debates-social-economy-in-se-europe/