21 Sep 2015
On 10 September the European Parliament has adopted the resolution on “Social entrepreneurship and social innovation in combating unemployment”, an initiative of the MEP Veronica Lope Fontagné (PPE). “(…) Social and solidarity-based economy contributes not only to a more sustainable, smart and inclusive economic model, but also to the European social model, and is part of the single market, deserving to be strongly recognized and supported by the EU and the Member States”, says the resolution.
CECOP hails the fact that the report addresses concrete recommendations to the European Commission and Member States on how to better support social and solidarity-based economy enterprises in their everyday attempt to answer social, environmental, territorial needs, and contribute to professional (re)integration of most vulnerable citizens. Around 12,000 social cooperatives from CECOP network employ 270,000 persons across Europe and provide services such as social, environmental, cultural services, health or education, and work integration to the most excluded citizens. In some isolated regions, they are the only provider of services responding to basic needs.
They accomplish their mission in a sustainable and democratic way, they create new jobs while answering to an increasing demand, in a moment of austerity programs and dwindling public spending. Only in Italy social cooperatives have been creating 20 new jobs per day in the last 6 years! Between 2008 and 2014, 43,000 jobs were created. Today, around 35,000 persons in Italy considered in vulnerable situation – being the most likely to face unemployment and social exclusion – are employed trough social cooperatives.
In this sense, worker and social cooperatives are particularly satisfied to see the European Parliament recognizing “cooperatives are providing high-quality jobs that are not vulnerable to relocation, (…) are surviving the crisis, whereas thanks to their cooperative business model they increased turnover and growth during the crisis, with fewer bankruptcies and redundancies”.
CECOP welcomes the attention given to young people in the report: we observe in our network that young people are very sensitive to community needs and are trying to answer to them though cooperative entrepreneurship. CECOP is also satisfied by the fact that the report points out that social and solidarity-based economy is represented by different types and sizes of undertakings thereby recognizing that cooperatives as a whole are a constituent part of such enterprise model, but regrets that the report feeds an already existing confusion in terminology by using interchangeably the concepts of between “social and solidarity-based economy enterprise” on the one hand and “social enterprise” on the other.
Many of the cooperatives represented by CECOP, such as cooperatives active in industry, certain types of services or crafts, are important components of the social and solidarity-based economy but are not “social enterprises” according to the definition given to that term by the European Commission in the Social Business Initiative. This confusion may generate the risk of ineffectiveness in transposing the report in concrete action. The resolution “Social entrepreneurship and social innovation in combating unemployment” is available here