On 31 March, the President of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), Georges Dassis, heading a 4-Member delegation, took part in the Fifth European Forum of Social Entrepreneurship in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. The Forum provides an opportunity for social entrepreneurs to communicate directly with representatives of European and national institutions and to get more familiar with current policies for promoting the social economy.
"Governments and public bodies have begun to recognise the importance of social entrepreneurship. Steps are being taken in many Member States and regions to encourage the growth of social enterprises. However, a more favourable ecosystem for social enterprises should be established all across Europe in order to fully unleash the potential of the sector," said Georges Dassis in his opening speech.
The EESC has significant expertise in the sphere of social enterprise and has drawn up, over the past decade, a substantial number of opinions on the subject. Besides, in the framework of its project called Social Entrepreneurship, Make it Happen! the EESC drew up some recommendations for action for the Juncker Commission and for other institutions. Later, in October 2015, it created a permanent study group called "Social economy enterprises" to continue the work and to make sure social economy is kept on the European agenda. One can say that the EESC has become a key player in expressing the voice of civil society in Europe's various forums on the subject of social economy and social enterprises.
Social economy represents 2 million businesses and more than 14 million jobs across Europe. They are present in almost every sector, including banking, insurance, agriculture, crafts, hospitality, commercial services, health and social services. Rather than just making money, social enterprises have primarily social objectives, reinvest profit in pursuit of this aim, and operate as independent entities, with a strong element of participation and co-decision, governance and democracy.
Relevant EESC opinions:
Building a financial ecosystem for social enterprises
European Social Entrepreneurship Funds
Social entrepreneurship and social enterprise