European Parliament/Social Economy Intergroup: Discussing a European Action Plan for the Social Economy

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The future European Action Plan for the Social Economy, which should be tabled by the European Commission in 2021, will be at the centre of an upcoming online hearing of the European Parliament’s Social Economy Intergroup. The event will take place on 2 June 2020, 3pm-6pm. MEPs from different political groups and a diversity of stakeholders representing the social economy, local/regional authorities and other organisations will discuss the Action Plan with Nicolas Schmit, European Commissioner for Employment and Social Affairs.

You will find the agenda here.

Register here.

Covid-19: EU measures/Potential support and obstacles for the social and solidarity economy

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In the current Covid-19 context, the European Commission has tabled a number of proposals to adapt EU legislation in order to rapidly make (financial) support and assistance available to all Member States.

In this context, the European Commission decided, for instance, to loosen state aid rules and set up a State Aid Temporary Framework.

The Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative, approved also by the European Parliament in its extraordinary plenary session on 26 March 2020, should make it possible to redirect European Structural and Investment Funds. Member States will, for instance, be enabled to use hitherto unused ESIF budget for 2019 (which, in theory, should be paid back to the European Commission) to support measures fighting (the impact of) Covid-19.

Measures related to public health emergencies will become eligible for the European Solidarity Fund.

On 2 April, the European Commission proposed a new set of measures to further mobilize support against COVID19 – Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative Plus (CRII+), introducing extraordinary flexibility and reducing administrative burden to allow that available funding from the European Structural and Investment Funds can be mobilized to the fullest. (available under the following link : https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/homen). To make sure that funds can be re-directed to where they are most urgently needed, the flexibilities introduced involve transfers between funds as well as between categories of regions and between policy objectives, easing thematic concentration requirements,  giving Member States the option of 100 % EU co-financing for the accounting year 2020/2021 and introducing simplifications in relation to implementation and audit among other. More details about the CRII+ proposal can be found also here:  https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/qanda_20_574

Co-legislators will still have to adopt this second package of legislative amendments.

Also the European Central Bank and the European Investment Bank launched specific programmes to help Member States and enterprises (in particular SMEs and mid-caps).

In addition, the European Commission proposed the activation of the general escape clause of the Stability and Growth Pact.

Finally, different forums of exchange have been established, among them a specific database on social and solidarity economy initiatives.

Also and especially in the Covid-19 crisis, the social and solidarity economy all over Europe is currently in the first line and often a key player in the mobilsation of solidarity. It plays a crucial role in finding and operating solutions in the area of health, social and other basic services, inclusion of the most vulnerable up to research and production. However, it is also facing a number of challenges and does often not receive the same attention, recognition and support as other (economic) actors. Social and solidarity economy enterprises and organisations, but also local/regional governments cooperating with the social and solidarity economy: Please share with us difficulties you come across – be it at local, national or European level, but also what ideas and suggestions you have to solve them. Social Economy Europe and its members (among them REVES) intend to mobilise policy-makers and make your voice heard by tabling concrete proposals.

For more information on EU measures relating to Covid-19, please visit the homepage of the European Commission

Children’s Rights: Covid-19 does not stop us. Together with kids and families even now. On line

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While the home visits, which together with other community meetings (parishes, kindergartens, and in our centre the Pomegranate “Times for families”) have led us to reach about 150 families throughout the city, are temporarily suspended due to the Coronavirus emergency, the activities of cognitive and educational support to children and their families are continuing. From the “little red houses”, as the children we – the Messina Community Foundation – work with define them – Fondo Saccà, we have in fact moved to the web.

So in these difficult days of forced “cloistering” due to the health emergency, the activities of “Tempi per le Famiglie”- the Pomegranate (and the Centrosocio Educativo-Il Melarancio), continue online. This is in order to remain close to children and families, which, in the case of “Tempi per le Famiglie” alone, count more than twenty households and over thirty children – and are growing numbers thanks to the work done – and thus keep the thread of the relationship that has been created over time.

We spend part of the days with them developing distance activities to break the isolation and transform this otherwise homogeneous time into an opportunity for personal and family growth through the discovery of their resilience and talents.

We are therefore on Skype and on dedicated Facebook and WhatsApp groups: with animated fairy tales, tutorials for making recipes, painting, colouring, “challenges” that children and parents can do together and with support for homework and study.

In addition, through specific work, parents are supported to better face the delicate moment we are experiencing and to turn it into an educational opportunity, with the aim of providing them with tools to continue to grow together with their children.

Photos, memories, videos, thoughts, the most beautiful, interesting or stimulating of which will be shared in dedicated Facebook groups, are an opportunity for exchange, comparison, reflection, fun between parents, children and operators involved.

When everything will be over, and we will finally leave the Covid-19 behind us, we will have a great party, all together. A party where we will display the funniest things produced “in the days of the web” and celebrate the winners of the challenges. Above all, we will smile at each other from a little distance – we hope – or at least a bit closer, and not only from the screen of a smartphone or a computer.

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The project was selected by Con i Bambini within the framework of the Fund to combat child educational poverty. The Fund is the result of an agreement between the Foundations of banking origin represented by Acre, the National Forum of the Third Sector and the Government. It supports interventions aimed at removing economic, social and cultural obstacles that prevent children from fully enjoying the educational processes. In order to implement the Fund’s programmes, in June 2016 the social enterprise Con i Bambini was set up, a non-profit organisation entirely owned by the Fondazione CON IL SUD. www.conibambini.org

European Parliament: Social Economy Intergroup re-launched!

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On Tuesday 21st January 2020, the first internal meeting of the renewed Social Economy Intergroup (SEIG) took place at the European Parliament in Brussels to appoint the co-Chairs and vice-Chairs of the Intergroup and to draw up a strategy for the next five years.
Five Members of the European Parliament were appointed as Co-Chairs of the SEIG, among whom, Patrizia Toia (S&D, IT), Sven Giegold (Greens/EFA, DE), Leopoldo López (EPP, ES), Monica Semedo (Renew, LU) and Manon Aubry (GUE/NGL, FR). Furthermore, the Intergroup appointed MEPs Leszek Miller (S&D, PL) and Jordi Cañas (Renew, ES) as vice-Chairs and agreed to appoint three more respectively from the EPP, the Greens/EFA and the GUE/NGL, in the coming weeks.

Also, the Intergroup agreed on a strategy for the next five years. At a moment in which the European Commission – in its communication on “A Strong Social Europe for Just Transitions” – has just announced the launch of a European Action Plan for the Social Economy in 2021, the SEIG aims to cooperate with President Von der Leyen, Vice-President Dombrovskis, and Commissioners Schmit and Breton in co-designing an effective policy, that will play a key role in building an economy that works for people and the planet.

Towards a European Action Plan Implementing the European Pillar of Social Rights: Work-Life Balance: Master Parenting in Work and Life

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Despite a number of recent (policy) initiatives at European level and in EU Member States, parents – and in particular mothers – still face a number of difficulties in combining (access to) work and family life.

Moreover, the general employment rate of women is still considerably lower than that of men (by 11,6% in 2018).  With regard to part-time work, the gap between women and men with children is even higher (30,8%).  In some EU Member States, policies appear to move backwards again, reviving old role models of women and men that seemed to be overcome.

In addition, existing work-life balance policies and initiatives sometimes fail, as they do not respond to realities of life of many parents – realities that might be shaped by different family types (including single parents), unemployment, lack of skills, disability, etc.

The European Pillar of Social Rights includes a number of principles which should reinforce the rights of mothers and fathers finding themselves in different situations, as it stipulate the right of persons not only to work-life balance (chapter II/9), but also to life-long learning, equal opportunities, gender equality, etc.

Local and regional governments and their partners have an important role to play when it comes to let these principles become reality.

The « Master Parenting in Work and Life (MASP) initiative» explores work-life balance strategies that go beyond isolated actions of individual players and foster cooperation between parents, cities, regions, (social economy) enterprises and others.

This European seminar invites cities and regions, employers, trade unions, social economy, civil society, representatives of European institutions and other interested organisations and persons to:

  1. discover good practices of cities, regions and (social economy) enterprises in the promotion of work-life balance – with a particular focus (but not exclusively) on groups such as unemployed and unskilled women,
  2. discuss new models of conciliation and ‘work-life synergy’ which go beyond individual action and promote cooperation between parents, local governments and administration, (social) Economy enterprises, civil society and other players,
  3. reflect on concrete actions to be proposed to the new Commission and the European Parliament to bring the European Pillar of Social Rights to life.

You will find the programme here. Please register here (places are limited).

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This project is co-funded by the European Union.

THE SWEDISH ASSOCIATION OF LOCAL AND REGIONAL AUTHORITIES PROMOTES COOPERATION WITH THE SOCIAL ECONOMY

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In the framework of a skills development project for Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SALAR) Anders Bro, Region Örebro County, has been commissioned to write a handbook with the aim of promoting municipalities and regions’ cooperation with social enterprises in Sweden. The handbook is intended to clarify the added value of municipalities and regions’ cooperation with social enterprises and to clarify the various parts and purposes of the civil society/social economy. The handbook will also clarify different ways of collaborating, both financially and legally, and contain a clear workflow for collaboration and show inspiring learning examples. The handbook will be presented at a dissemination conference in autumn 2020. The handbook will be available in digital format after the project. The contents of the handbook will also be used on the web in order to meet needs that are more specific.

The expected effects of the handbook are that politicians and civil servants in municipalities and regions receive increased knowledge and interest in initiating business and collaborations with social enterprises and that they have support in how collaboration and dialogue should be conducted.

SALAR is an employers’ organization and an organization that represents and advocates for local government in Sweden. All of Sweden’s municipalities and regions are members of SALAR. The members of SALAR (municipalities and regions) are the employers of more than one million people, which make SALAR the largest employer organization in Sweden. The target groups for the skills development project are SALAR’s office and all of SALAR’s members.

New European Commission will launch Action Plan for the Social Economy

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A new European Commission took office on 1 December 2019.

In front of the European Parliament, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen had pledged to set the fight against climate change and a Green Deal for Europe at the very top of the EU policy agenda next other principles/elements such as the support for  « an economy serving people », a strengthening of European democracy and the European Parliament’s right for initiative or the defense of the rule of law.

The College of Commissioners, composed of Commissioners from the 27 Member States of the European Union will take the political leadership of the European Commission until 2024.

In so-called ‘mission letters’, von der Leyen highlighted their respective objectives and tasks.

Commissioner for Jobs Nicolas Schmit has been mandated to develop a Social Economy Action Plan.

The European Network of Cities and Regions for the Social Economy (REVES aisbl) welcomes this and hopes, inter alia, for a recognition of the important role local and regional governments and multi-stakeholder partnerships (should) play in its promotion.

At the same time, REVES hopes for a clear commitment to the social economy and related initiatives also by other Commissioners covering topics such as a European Action Plan for the Implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights, the Conference on the Future of Europe, social and territorial cohesion, the new SME strategy, the revision of EU competetion rules,  to name just a few…

Also at administrative level, the recent positive dynamics of cooperation between Directorate-Generals should not be lost.

INTEGRAL ECOLOGY FOR CHILDREN’S RIGHTS IN BRESCIA (IT)

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Integral ecology for children’s rights is a project of experimentation and implementation of complex policies to address the issue of child educational poverty, starting from the pre-conditions that determine it. The complexity (in the literal sense) of these policies does not only refer to the type of interventions needed, but also to those who develop and/or implement them. In fact, going beyond the fundamental model of public and universalist delivery, EIDI aims to involve in the process the local actors of well-being, the natural terminals of social relations of a territory, the community as a whole.

The Brescia experience, conducted in partnership between CAUTO, the Foundation of the Brescia Community and the Municipality of Brescia, is an excellent example of the adaptability of key concepts – personalized action, capacity budget, taking charge of the community – to the context.

“Welcome to community” and “family times” are two cornerstones of the EIDI project that in Brescia have been grafted in a virtuous way, and without unnecessary duplication, on the interventions implemented by public administrations for newborns.

The involvement of the role of the community, both at second level, composed of organized stakeholders who act policies for children and families, and at first level, composed of people who live on a territory, is a fundamental point.

As far as bodies and organisations active in the sector are concerned, it has been possible to ascertain the effectiveness and efficiency of the transition from a mono-dimensional vision of the intervention to a practice of transversal action. This is not only substantiated in terms of coordination of actions between organizational structures, but also and especially in the increased awareness of the operator to be part of a wider process, resulting in better understanding and assumption of their role, even in problematic terms.

Where, however, the process triggered by EIDI in Brescia shows its potential is in the involvement of the community of citizens as an active part, from different points of view.

First of all, in the identification of conditions of discomfort or risk, especially when they escape the frameworks provided by static reading grids. The perception of the situation at risk through informal and uncodified indicators, but made clear to the communities by the experience of the territory, has allowed to identify and treat marginal situation that are not yet extreme, in a somewhat preventive manner. This, however, must not lead us to think of a role of mere controller or substitute for public institutions; rather, we must appreciate the recovery of the protection network, which is the primary function of the community. Through the collection of reports during targeted meetings, or through the knowledge of opportunities for help, people at risk are directed towards a path of support that specialized operators provide.

However, it would be reductive to limit the function to reporting risk situations. The EIDI project in Brescia involves the community in a positive sense, in terms of the community that welcomes even before protecting: every newborn is given a welcome in the form of a gadget produced within the community itself. It is a symbolic shelter produced by an association that brings together 250 people from the districts involved in the project. In addition to the symbolism represented by the gadget itself (chosen by the community …), the act of giving, especially to people who normally receive nothing for nothing, concretely expresses the sense of belonging to a system of relationships based on solidarity and non-predation.

The implementation of “capacity budgets”, managed mainly by the Foundation of the Brescia Community, shows the usefulness of intervening on the implementation of social functions that allow the individual, or the family, to recover their parental function, in a generative way for the community. As experience has shown, the use of resources to reduce gaps, instead of providing a direct contribution to the individual, allows people in a situation of progressive social disintegration to quickly recover a role and (re)knowledge of it. A team of operators identifies, with the help of the communities, the situations that may require support interventions, selects on the basis of risk and initiates a process of accompaniment that always begins with the signing of a personal agreement through which the subject of the action is primarily committed to recovering parental skills, restructuring their personal value and use it to rebuild the paths of social network.

Financial resources are therefore used as a vehicle for overcoming functional gaps, whether they are represented by personal deficiencies (e.g. poor working skills, i.e. in positive need of internship) or system ones (lack of possibility of entrusting children outside institutional times, i.e. in positive need of a baby-sitting service).

 

con-i-bambiniThe project was selected by Con i Bambini within the framework of the Fund to combat child educational poverty. The Fund is the result of an agreement between the Foundations of banking origin represented by Acre, the National Forum of the Third Sector and the Government. It supports interventions aimed at removing economic, social and cultural obstacles that prevent children from fully enjoying the educational processes. In order to implement the Fund’s programmes, in June 2016 the social enterprise Con i Bambini was set up, a non-profit organisation entirely owned by the Fondazione CON IL SUD. www.conibambini.org

No one is left behind – a video about Region Örebro County support to social enterprises

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Region Örebro County, member of the REVES board, is partner in the RaiSE-project on enhancing competitiveness of social enterprises. They were  approached by the programme office of Interreg Europe to be the subject of a web-documentary on successful initiatives within Interreg Europe.

Here is the video produced by Interreg Europe showing the concrete results of a  particularly interesting policy change: ”No one is left behind” is a film about Region Örebro County work in supporting social enterprises.

 

CAPACITY – Almost there!

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Almost at the end of the experience of the CAPACITY project in Messina. The results are there: a district of barracks transformed into a compound of sustainable buildings and a new approach to social housing based on the ownership of the house and not on life-long assistance

A virtuous example of using public funding as a multiplier of inclusion (the project was funded on the basis of an initiative of the Presidency of the Council of the Italian Republic – DPCM 25/05/2016)

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