Social economy enterprises' contribution to a more cohesive and democratic Europe (Exploratory opinion at the request of the Romanian Presidency) - Related Opinions
Social economy is a key and a growing contributor to the European economy and the job creation.
This exploratory opinion has been requested by the Portuguese presidency of the Council. Social economy represents a key and a growing contributor to the European economy and the job creation. It has a positive impact on working conditions and the enlargement of the labour market. Social economy has a pivotal role to play in the future Action plan for the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights by promoting social inclusion and a better access to the labour market.
The European Commission has put the social economy at the top of the agenda for 2020. The aim of the opinion is to emphasise the importance of the common good as a key European value, including in the area of economic activity, and to highlight the high level of innovation of social economy enterprises committed to the common good, with a focus on the provision of social services.
The opinion examines the possible introduction of a new concept into EU law: "low-profit". This concept would define all organisations that are likely to make a profit but that do not intend to distribute it to their owners or shareholders, as they have a different purpose.
The EESC considers that social economy enterprises have a fundamental role since they are active in four key aspects of the migrant integration process: health and assistance, housing, training and education, as well as work and active inclusion. It believes that social economy enterprises can encourage and support not just the creation of new jobs, but also entrepreneurship and access to economic activities for migrants and refugees. It therefore asks the European institutions to prioritise policies geared towards social economy enterprises, a request it also made in its contribution to the Commission's 2018 work programme.
Europe is facing complex challenges calling for renewed social and economic models. To deliver progress, growth and wellbeing in Europe, a shift towards an innovation-based economy is needed. The EESC therefore calls on the European Commission to develop a policy framework to support these new business models emerging. The EESC calls on the Commission in the upcoming review of the Single Market strategy, due in 2017, to fully incorporate these new business models, and suggest new measures in this direction. It is crucial that Member States and the European Institutions fully recognise and promote "fairer" business models, which are centred on delivering innovation for social development by integrating social impact measurement in parallel to reporting economic progress.
Exploratory opinion requested by the Luxembourg presidency
The EESC welcomes the debate on social impact measurements for social enterprises. However it feels that an incorrect or rushed approach may counteract the EU Institutions’ aim to support the development of the social enterprise sector. The EESC therefore urges the Commission to prioritise further awareness-raising and full implementation of the Social Business Initiative agenda. It recommends that, rather than developing a new method, the Commission build awareness of the most commonly used principles.