At its meeting on 7 December 2015, almost twenty years after the first mentioning of social economy in a Council conclusion, the Council adopted the proposal of the Luxembourg Presidency for Council conclusions on “The promotion of the social economy as a key driver of economic and social development in Europe”.
Jens Nilsson, spokesperson of the intergroup on social economy at the European Parliament, qualified the date as historical for social economy.
Indeed, it is an historical event, not only for social economy, but for the European project as such.
While recognising the role of social economy and its contribution to the pursuit of Europe 2020 goals, the Council underlines main principles of the social economy such as the primacy of people over capital and the role of the social economy as a vehicle for social and economic cohesion in Europe.
It also acknowledges several times the importance of dialogue, partnership and community involvement and therewith points to the character of social economy which is founded on collective action and which has the capacity to act as a kind of “glue” for society.
Thus, the role of social economy goes beyond that of being an economic player among others. People make social economy for people and prove that an economy serving the human being is not only possible, but also effective in the pursuit of multiple objectives.
The Council, after inviting member States and Commission to “establish and further develop European, national, regional and local strategies and programmes for enhancing the social economy”, focuses on four main areas of intervention:
• awareness, recognition and education
• social innovation
• regulatory environment
• access to finance
Through these conclusions, the Council provides directions for policymaking, which Member States, by approving, committed to pursue. The Commission, on its part, receives a mandate to act.
Social economy, people of the social economy, have achieved such a result by the force of evidence, showing every day their capacity to adapt to changing environments without giving up their values. Finally, their consistency came out to be their strength.