“Creating an enabling environment for the social economy – the local and regional perspective”
“Creating an enabling environment for the social economy – the local and regional perspective” is the title of an opinion of the European Committee of the Regions of the European Union which was adopted on 8 February 2023 in Brussels.
The opinion was developed against the background of the upcoming “Council Recommendation on developing social economy framework conditions”.
Rapporteur of the opinion is Riccardo Rio (EPP), mayor of the city of Braga (PT), whom REVES President Ana Umbelino and the REVES secretariat were able to meet in the drafting phase of the opinion.
In the adopted opinion, the Committee of the Region reiterates its recognition of the social economy as a fundamental actor when it comes to promoting social cohesion, economic development and job creation, sustainable development and transition processes in general. It recognises the social economy as a transversal player in different sectors of activity and in its diversity, with different organizational forms – linked also to different national (legal) frameworks.
The Committee of the Regions invites « EU institutions, Member States and LRAs to develop a joint plan for the promotion of the social economy, translating into practice the subsidiarity vision”.
Also, CoR members call on EU policy-makers to take into account differences between different EU Member States and develop policies based on a rather “operational concept”, whilst, however, referring to the common principles and values stipulated in the EU definition of social economy.
Local and regional authorities are encouraged, amongst others, to fulfill a coordinating function – for example as creators of regional meeting platforms, or to better use possibilities to apply social public procurement. Also, the Committee of the Regions “urges national, regional and local authorities to better tap into the potential of current rules on the specific provisions for services of general economic interest (SGEI) to make full use of the possibility to recognise social economy entities carrying out an economic activity as an SGEI where relevant”. Knowledge exchange on social economy (policy) development should be promoted between different European regions and cities, but also between regions and different levels of government within EU Member States.
In its recommendations, the Committee of the Regions also advocates, amongst other aspects, “single and clear entry points in public administrations” for the social economy, the “enhanced participation of social economy organisations in the local economic decision-making process”, an improved access of cities and regions to European and national funds, including those related to Next Generation Europe or the creation, at EU level and with the support of Invest EU, of a “Guarantee fund for small and medium social economy entities”.
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