The social economy can be the economic model to address the twin challenge of climate emergency and social crisis

The social economy can be an economic model for tackling the dual challenges of ecological emergency and social crisis

Such is the message to the European institutions from the social economy actors meeting in Strasbourg – European capital of the social economy 2019, for the 4th European Day of Social Economy Enterprises, just as the European Parliament gives the green light to Ursula von der Leyen's new team.

The European Economic and Social Committee, in cooperation with the French Ministry for Ecological and Inclusive Transition and the city and Eurometropole area of Strasbourg, held the 4th European Day of Social Economy Enterprises on the theme of The Social Economy: mobilising cities, regions and civil society. Pact for Impact for the European Union.

All speakers emphasised that the social economy may be the only viable alternative to a model of production and consumption that threatens the survival of the planet and exacerbates social inequalities, by putting the values of equality, social justice and sustainable development at the core of the economic model. Faced with globalisation and relocation, it offers a model deeply rooted in our cities and regions.

Luca Jahier, President of the European Economic and Social Committee, urged that "following in the footsteps of Gutenberg, who invented printing here in Strasbourg, we should print a new page in history together here today in the European capital of the social economy: let's turn this European Day of Social Economy Enterprises into a unifying alliance upholding Europe's fundamental values - democracy and solidarity".

Christophe Itier, High Commissioner for the social and solidarity-based economy at the French Ministry for Ecological Transition, declared that "the social economy's time has come. Never have the values it embodies been so urgent. The stakes are so high that we must look again at the 'software' of this economic growth that is destroying the planet and exacerbating social inequalities. The social and solidarity-based economy provides real solutions and the systemic changes that Europe so badly needs to regain citizens' trust and come up with a project that matches the scale of the challenges facing us all: we will not achieve the Agenda 2030 Sustainable Development Goals without the social and solidarity-based economy".

Nicolas Schmit, Member of the European Parliament and incoming European Commissioner for employment, who has long striven for EU recognition of the social economy, argued that "any policy pursuing a successful ecological transition needs a strong social and solidarity-based dimension. There is now a general feeling that many people are losing out in today's world - the losers of globalisation, of digitalisation and so on ... If this feeling spreads and if, once again, it is the most vulnerable who are hardest hit by this transition, we will see divisions in our societies that will further complicate the necessary policies and make them practically impossible. So, we must work on a different economic model, and this model lies at the very heart of the social economy".

A joint declaration was adopted, setting out the measures that the stakeholders wanted the European Union to adopt in order to take the social economy to a higher level in Europe. In particular, the declaration called for a comprehensive, coherent policy initiative, including specific and practical measures, such as:

  • Mainstreaming the social economy into all single market policies and policies for SMEs and entrepreneurship;
  • Building a suitable financial ecosystem, promoting strategic investment in innovative and sustainable social economy projects throughout their life cycles, and prioritising the social economy in EU financing programmes;
  • Making sure that social economy enterprises can take full advantage of the digital transition;
  • Raising the profile and boosting recognition of the social economy across Europe;
  • Helping the public authorities in their work to bring social entrepreneurship into all levels of education;
  • Fully harnessing the potential of social innovation by fostering cross-sector and multi-disciplinary partnerships;
  • Ensuring that all public institutions at local, regional national and European level implement socially and ecologically responsible public procurement award procedures.

The declaration was presented to Mr Schmit and will be forwarded to the European Parliament and the European Commission in order to feed into their work from the beginning of their terms starting on 1 December.

Read the full text of the declaration


For more information, please contact:

Daniela Marangoni
Press Unit, European Economic and Social Committee
Tel. +32 2 546 8422
Sarah Robin
Head of Cabinet, Diplomatic Adviser
To the High Commission for the Social and Solidarity-based Economy and Social Innovation
Ministry for Ecological and Inclusive Transition
Tel : +33 (0)1 40 81 25 17 / Mob. : +33 (0)6 62 58 11 39