Spain will prioritise social economy during 2023 EU presidency – deputy PM

Spain’s second deputy prime minister Yolanda Díaz committed yesterday to make the social economy a priority when her country takes over the presidency of the European Union next year.

She was speaking at the opening plenary of the Social Economy, The Future of Europe conference, a two-day gathering in Strasbourg dedicated to the European social economy – organisations that prioritise social or environmental purpose before financial profit, including associations, foundations, mutuals, co-operatives and social enterprises.

The high-level conference follows the publication of the EU Social Economy Action Plan, the bloc’s new strategy to boost the social economy sector in Europe. First published in December, it is the EU’s first major policy plan in this field since the Social Business Initiative of 2011. 

This week’s Strasbourg event featured prominent figures in the sector, including politicians, policymakers and social entrepreneurs from across Europe – including guests of honour Petro Darmoris, COO of the Ukrainian Social Academy, and Alina Bocharnikova, social entrepreneurship programme coordinator at Ukrainian NGO the Future Development Agency.

The advance of the social economy is a guarantee of sustainable development

Díaz said Spain would make the social economy one of its priorities during its presidency of the EU in the second half of 2023.

She added the country would support the development of a common regulatory framework for the sector, and expand the ambitions of the Social Economy Action Plan, “because the advance of the social economy is a guarantee of sustainable development… because talking about the social economy is talking about transformation, solidarity, stable and quality employment, and resources to face the green and digital transitions awaiting us, and a future that we want.”

 

A path forward amid “reinvention” of Europe

The Future of Europe conference is organised by the French presidency of the European Union, which runs during the first half of this year. Speaking via video yesterday, the French secretary of state for the social economy, Olivia Grégoire (pictured), said: 

Olivia Grégoire“Challenges are too numerous to claim that the economy can continue as it did. The economy must restart [after the current crises], but with a profound renewal, calling into question some of its models but also some of its methods. 

“The crisis was climatic and social – it is now a health and military crisis. At a time when Europe must reinvent itself, at a time when it is possibly under threat, the social economy shows a path forward. And Europe is more than ever determined to take this path.” 

Grégoire has made promoting the social economy among EU member states a personal endeavour. In February this year she initiated a meeting that led ministers from 21 member states to sign a declaration committing to develop an EU-wide definition of the social economy – the lack of which is widely considered to hinder the development of the movement.

She added: “Europe isn’t… a bureaucratic thing. Europe is thousands of human realities which are concretely transformed by solidarity. Europe isn’t only a single market, it is a unique model, and it’s up to us to make it evolve towards a future where the social economy can, and must, make all of its human value felt.”

 

Top image: Yolanda Diaz in 2021, credit AntonMST29, licensed under creative commons; Olivia Grégoire, official portrait, French government

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