European impact entrepreneurs unite in call for EU policymakers to support economic ‘paradigm shift’

Business for a Better Tomorrow coalition seeks to make impact community’s voice heard ahead of 2024 European elections with a manifesto launched today.

A new coalition of business networks is campaigning for the EU to better support the social economy and to transform business models to develop a sustainable economy. In a manifesto to be launched later today in Brussels, the Business for a Better Tomorrow coalition will outline 22 proposals to develop more favourable regulations and laws for social enterprises, and accelerate fundamental changes to the economy.

The coalition, whose 15 members from across Europe include Euclid Network, B Lab Europe and Ecopreneur.eu, is campaigning ahead of the June 2024 European elections, aiming to ensure that the voice of entrepreneurs committed to environmental and social transition is heard. 

We, as business and business networks’ leaders from all over Europe, believe that it is time for a paradigm shift to move from an economy of responsibility to an economy of positive contribution

The coalition said it wants to represent the impact community and its priorities in the same way BusinessEurope represents shareholder business interests. Specific EU directives and policies the coalition hopes to influence include the Green Deal, the Social Economy Action Plan, the corporate sustainability reporting directive and the corporate sustainability due diligence directive. 

Emery Jacquillat, board member of the Communauté des Entreprises à Mission, which represents France’s purpose-led businesses, said his organisation joined the coalition because they believe the only way to overcome the challenges Europe currently faces is through collective action. 

Jacquillat said: “Citizens, consumers and employees expect companies to make social and environmental commitments. There’s no more time for greenwashing – it’s time for action, with humility and sincerity.”

The manifesto, Delivering the Green Deal and Beyond: Building an inclusive, fair and green economy for Europe, will say: “Transform or collapse: this is the dilemma facing society and businesses because of climate change, biodiversity loss and rising inequalities.

“We, as business and business networks’ leaders from all over Europe, believe that it is time for a paradigm shift to move from an economy of responsibility to an economy of positive contribution.”

 

Making social enterprises pillars of tomorrow’s economy

Social economy businesses face unfair competition from traditional companies which only seek to maximise profits, says the manifesto. While praising the ambition of the Social Economy Action Plan, a warmly received package to promote the social economy across Europe launched in 2021, the manifesto says social enterprises still face significant obstacles that prevent them from growing. 

Recommendations in the manifesto include making European financing instruments more accessible to social enterprises, EU-wide regulations and standards to facilitate social enterprise operations across borders and supporting social enterprises to become more integrated into the value chains of mainstream companies.

Philippe Zaouati Philippe Zaouati (pictured), founder of impact management firm Mirova, is board member of Mouvement Impact France, a French body representing social and environmental entrepreneurs. Zaouati describes himself as a “sustainable finance activist” and has developed policy in France, where he was involved in writing Emmanuel Macron’s green policy programme in 2017, and at the EU level as member of the high-level expert group on sustainable finance at the European Commission in 2018. 

Speaking ahead of the launch, Zaouati said the coalition wants to support the implementation of the Social Economy Action Plan, but as part of a wider project to transform business. 

He said: “It’s a very good thing the EU has set up a provision on the social economy, but now we need to make it happen. The social economy is a very important part of this, but we also want to go beyond and gather different ways to achieve a more sustainable and inclusive economy in Europe.”

 

Accelerating the transition of the European economy

The Business for a Better Tomorrow manifesto’s 22 recommendations include 11 on how business models can be transformed to create a fairer, more resilient and sustainable economy. 

The 11 recommendations include: the introduction of ‘environmental taxation’ on the use of natural resources and pollution to lower the tax burden on labour; the inclusion of social and sustainable criteria in all public procurement; and and support for SMEs to enable them to draw up simplified plans to transition to making positive contributions to society and the environment.

Although the EU has tried to implement initiatives requiring companies to be more responsible, including the Green Deal, the coalition says these measures are insufficient and candidates for the 2024 elections are threatening to stop developing the initiative. 

The EU Green Deal was approved in 2020 and included commitments for no net emissions of greenhouse gases from the continent by 2050, economic growth decoupled from resource use and at least 55% less net greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, compared with 1990 levels.

Header image: European Parliament (CC BY 2.0 DEED)

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