On 3 October 2012, the Various Interests Group organised a conference at the EESC on the topic 'Social Enterprises and the Europe 2020 Strategy: innovative solutions for a sustainable Europe'. Within the general framework of the 2012 UN International Year of Cooperatives, the objective of the event of the Various Interests Group was to actively support social enterprises as significant actors in the implementation of the Europe 2020 Strategy and of the Single Market.
Particularly in the current period of economic and social crises, social enterprises are able to bring innovative solutions for social cohesion and inclusion, job creation, growth and the promotion of active citizenship. It is precisely the positive impact of social enterprises on society, the environment and communities which can contribute to implementing the Europe 2020 Strategy and the aim of the Single Market Act for a 'highly competitive social market economy'. However, unless a level-playing field for social enterprises is established, with legal, administrative and financial instruments conducive to the development of the sector, the potential of social enterprises will not be unleashed. It is within this context that the Various Interests Group hopes to raise awareness of the importance of the sector and to examine avenues for enhancing its impact, within both Europe and at the international level.
The conference was organised in close cooperation with the Social Economy Category and brought together approximately 220 participants, including Group III members, wider civil society representatives and guest speakers. Moreover, the event clearly provided the opportunity to raise the visibility of EESC Opinions and of the work of the Committee at large.