I would like to thank the European Commission and the city of Mannheim for inviting me to speak at this very important summit on social economy.
As the President of the European Economic and Social Committee, I am proud to say that the institution I represent is at the forefront of the promotion of the social economy.
We have been committed to this priority for many years and our members have a direct link with the representatives of this sector and are often themselves key players in the social economy.
In its role as consultative body to the EU institutions, the EESC exchanges with a wide range of civil society actors and prepares opinions on issues related to the social economy. We draw on input from experts in the Employers, Workers and Various Interests Groups.
We welcome the upcoming adoption of the very first European action plan on social economy in 2021. We have called for this plan for many years and are ready to actively contribute to its design and its implementation.
Social economy organisations and their economic value are very significant, both in terms of size (8% of European GDP) and in terms of the quality and persistence of this value. Even during the pandemic, they demonstrated their resilience.
Moreover, the social economy has an important role in creating and maintaining employment, providing more than 13.6 million paid jobs in Europe. It is a major driver of innovative and economic growth in Europe that is socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable.
These are exactly the priorities of my presidency. Post Covid-19, we need to work towards an economically prosperous Europe that puts at the top of its agenda the green and digital transitions.
Social economy enterprises have many tools to offer to rebuild a more sustainable and fairer economy. That is why we are calling the Member State authorities to involve social economy bodies in their national recovery and resilience plans.
The green and digital transitions need to be at the heart of our recovery strategy to ensure Europe's future resilience. The EESC has been a long-standing advocate of both digitalisation and sustainability.
The twin transition will bring many opportunities but also a certain number of challenges. Social economy is a strategic ally to tackle those challenges.
Digital transition needs to be just, sustainable and socially acceptable.
We look forward to working hand in hand with all the active stakeholders to make this action plan a reality. This conference is a major step forward.