EESC welcomes first loan to social economy under Juncker Plan

The European Investment Bank (EIB) has granted the Spanish social economy enterprise ILUNION a EUR 35 million loan from. The loan recognises the potential of the social economy, which the EESC has long acknowledged. The loan is expected to create 725 new jobs.

ILUNION, part of the Spanish social group ONCE, signed an agreement on 25 September in Brussels for a EUR 35 million loan from the EIB, financed by the European Fund for Strategic Investments, better known as the Juncker Plan. The loan is intended to fund half of a EUR 70 million investment plan aimed at strengthening the hotel and laundry departments of the business part of the group, Spain’s largest employer of people with disabilities.

The loan marks a turning point in the much called-for 'socialisation' of the Juncker Plan. The plan has proved to be an innovative way of enabling European investors to engage in ambitious investments traditional banks would be reluctant to take on.

"For more than two decades, the EESC has highlighted the importance of systematically promoting the social economy as a driver for investment, growth and above all job creation. In the last decade it has, with various documents, drawn attention to the social sector's difficulties in financing its investments and the need for the EU to support it. The EIB loan is a response to these calls", said Miguel Angel Cabra de Luna, EESC member representing the Spanish Confederation of Social Economy Enterprises (CEPES).

The loan also recognises the potential of the social economy (around 10% of European GDP) to create jobs for people with disabilities (15% of the EU's population). The EESC hopes that this success story will prompt new social investments in Europe. (dm)

In the photo: President of ILUNION, Alberto Durán, Vice-president of the European Investment Bank, Emma Navarro, President of the ONCE Group, Miguel Carballeda and Vice-President of the European Commission Jyrki Katainen.