"Social enterprise is another form of business model which creates growth by increasing the number of entrepreneurs and the different kinds of enterprise models in the economy. Social enterprises help us meet new challenges in a sustainable way, balancing the interests and needs of citizens", said Jonathan Bland, Managing Director of Social Business International Ltd.
The EESC’s public hearing on the "EU policy agenda for social enterprise: what next?" brought together European experts, Social Economy stakeholders and the European institutions that support the social enterprise sector. The event was held in the framework of the Social Enterprise Project which- in line with the Strasbourg declaration - aims to define policy directions and concrete actions to be put to the next Commission and Parliament in autumn 2014.
Heinz Becker, member of the European Parliament, explained the importance of communicating at the local level: "Our primary target is not the national level but the regional and local level because the social economy is rooted in the regions, but at the same time we need the close cooperation of the EU Member States".
The Social Enterprise Project is steered by a project group of nine EESC members. It involves in a number of "going local" events, stakeholder meetings and a specifically dedicated website and forum to facilitate and strengthen cooperation with social enterprise supporters around Europe.
"This hearing is the final step before our final report", said Ariane Rodert, the Social Enterprise Project coordinator. "The EESC has for the last eight months gathered input from social enterprise players at local, regional, national and European levels. Their input is key to ensuring that EU policy fully unleashes the potential of social economy enterprises across the EU", she went on to say.
"Social enterprise is an entrepreneurial model which prioritises personal dignity, a more balanced society, the integration of the young and of people with disabilities and promotes democratic values in the company", added Juan Antonio Pedreno, Vice-president of Social Economy Europe.
The EESC, actively involved in this field, has drafted a substantial number of opinions that have contributed to and supported the European Commission elaboration of the Social Business Initiative (SBI) in 2011.
Throughout a substantial number of opinions, the Strasbourg event, and the Social Entrepreneurship project, the EESC is actively involved in the Social Entrepreneurship field. As a result of this project currently undertaken by the EESC, policy directions and concrete actions will be forwarded to the new Commission and Parliament at the fall of 2014.