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A new push for the Social Economy. The European Parliament approves the report on SEAP

On the 6th July 2022, the European Parliament’s plenary session, held in Strasbourg, approved the INI Report on the EU Action Plan for the Social Economy, prepared by rapporteur Jordi Cañas MEP and by the Employment and Social Affairs Committee, with 493 votes in favour, 75 againts and 69 abstentions. The report constitutes a key input from the European Parliament to the Social Economy Action Plan (SEAP) launched by the European Commission in December 2021, that the Co-Chair of the Social Economy Intergroup Patrizia Toia MEP (S&D, IT) has defined as a game changer for the future EU social economy enterprises and organisations.

The European Parliament’s Social Economy Intergroup (SEIG), as a cross-partisan grouping of more than 80 MEPs engaged with the social economy as a driver of sustainable development and opportunities for all, has been calling for such an EU Action Plan in favour of the Social Economy since 2014, and now wants to push for an ambitious implementation. The recently approved INI report constitutes a positive step in that direction providing relevant feedback to the European Commission, Member States, and social economy stakeholders.

What the European Parliament’s and its Social Economy Intergroup would like to see:

●  A common EU level definition of the social economy based on its main principles and features as presented in the Social Economy Action Plan, in the framework of the Council Recommendation on developing social economy framework conditions that the European Commission is currently preparing and will propose to the Council in early 2023. The Intergroup calls on the Commission and Member States to urgently approve this recommendation that will serve as a compass to modernise social economy policy and legal frameworks, promoting upwards convergence.

●  Improve access to finance and to EU funding: deploying financial tools proposing a comprehensive and fitted approach of the specific needs of social economy enterprises and organisations (e.g., patient capital), that should be eligible and promoted through all EU programmes, such as, the InvestEU, the ESF+, the ERDF, Horizon Europe, the CERV, or the Single Market Programme, among others. Furthermore, it urges MS to use the Recovery and Resilience Facility to invest in social economy projects driving fair green and digital transitions. It also supports the report’s proposal to set-up a specific state aid regime for social economy enterprises mostly employing individuals in a situation of vulnerability, such as people with disabilities among other collectives. The EP and the SEIG will closely follow initiatives such as the EU Single Social Economy Gateway, an online platform that should be running in 2023, that aims to improve access to information on EU funding/finance and capacity building opportunities for social economy entities.

●   More women and young people in the social economy, through actions to improve its visibility as an employer and entrepreneurial model, but also through specific training as the Youth Entrepreneurship Policy Academy, further use of Erasmus Plus and Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs opportunities and mainstreaming in all levels of education. The report notes that women often make more than 60 % of the workforce in the social economy, and that gaps in pay and leadership have been reported to be lower; and calls on the Commission and the Member States to remove all barriers for women to achieve gender equality; calls for the strengthening of the gender dimension in policies and access to funding for women engaged in social economy entities.

●  More innovation, unlocking the full potential of the social economy to drive fair green and digital transitions, providing solutions for the sustainable development of local communities, and better data collection on the social economy’s socio-economic weight.

The rapporteur Jordi Cañas MEP (Renew, ES), SEIG Vice-Chair commented: With this report, the European Parliament has shown its resolve to elevate the social economy and its key principles, social inclusion, solidarity, and justice, to the place it deserves in the EU policy debate. More importantly, it has put on the table some proposals to pave the way and accompany the powerful transformation and consolidation the social economy is undergoing. The social economy has a strong ally in the European Parliament.

Katrin Langensiepen MEP (Greens/EFA, DE), SEIG Vice-Chair and shadow rapporteur commented: With this report the European Parliament clearly stresses the importance of social economy in the green transition and future of work. We particularly welcome the gender mainstreaming and the demand to facilitate funding for women. Nevertheless, we Greens would have preferred a more ambitious paper including the establishment of a label and a common definition for social economy enterprises to increase their visibility. We hope that this will come in the next steps.

Patrizia Toia MEP (S&D, IT), Co-Chair commented: The European Parliament has been at the forefront of pushing ahead social economy in the priorities of the work of the EU institutions. It represents the due recognition that is owed to these crucial realities, which have proved to be resilient and therefore a true engine of our socioeconomic development. Now we have a structured Plan, with clear objectives: we absolutely need to match these ambitions with concrete means and funds provided by the different EU sectoral programs. We are ready to continue our work in the second part of this legislature to ensure proper follow up and implementation.

Monica Semedo MEP (Renew, LU), Co-Chair commented: Social enterprises make a positive contribution to society. I am especially keen to see innovative ideas and entrepreneurship for a more inclusive society. The report is a clear message to show how important social economy enterprises are to the European Parliament and that we want them to grow and be able to have easier cross-border cooperation. 

Claude Gruffat MEP (Greens/EFA, FR), Co-Chair commented: Social Economy must become THE economy. This report is a key step for further achievements like financing the large-scale development of the Social Economy in Europe, using a European Fairtrade label, for instance.

Juan Antonio Pedreño President of Social Economy Europe said: This report points in a positive direction and has gathered a wide support from 493 MEPs, that would like to see an ambitious implementation of the Social Economy Action Plan. The role of the EP and of its Social Economy Intergroup is more relevant than ever to support the Commission, Member States, and social economy stakeholders in further boosting the social economuy across Europe, scaling up from 6.3% of all EU jobs today to 10% by 2030.

For more information,  please contact Victor Meseguer, director of SEE, the organisation providing the technical secretariat of the Social Economy Intergroup: director@socialeconomy.eu.org

Source: https://www.socialeconomy.eu.org/2022/07/06/pr-the-ep-approved-report-on-seap-by-a-large-majority/ 

 

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