Close to You Foundation took part in an exchange for best practices in Florence, Italy, looking at the best examples provided by Work Integration Social Enterprises in Europe, in a project sponsored by the Central European Initiative. The catalog is also available to the public, here.
Following is the declaration of Patrizia Bussi – Director of ENSIE – European Network of Social Integration Enterprises:
The European Commission supports and complements the Member States’ policies in the fields of social inclusion and social protection. The Europe 2020 strategy is the EU’s agenda for growth and jobs for the current decade. It emphasizes smart, sustainable and inclusive growth as a way to overcome the structural weaknesses in Europe’s economy, improve its competitiveness and productivity and underpin a sustainable social market economy.
The Europe 2020 strategy sets targets among which specific ones to lift at least 20 million people out of poverty and social exclusion and to increase employment of the population aged 20-64 to 75%. The flagship initiatives of the Europe 2020 strategy, including the Platform against Poverty and Social Exclusion and the Agenda for New Skills and Jobs, support efforts to reach these targets. The Europe 2020 Strategy set ambitious goals in order to cope with the long term challenges of globalisation, resource allocation efficiency, and demographic and technological change.
The European Union (EU) and its Member States must deal with a range of long-term trends affecting strongly the employment and social situation of many European citizens. The UN Agenda for Sustainable Development (2030 Agenda) with its ambitious Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has in the interim created a new strategy horizon, to which the EU is seeking to re-align.
Technological and demographic changes, together with digitalisation, have led to the emergence of forms of employment other than standard. The primary responsibility for delivering on the Europe 2020 targets is in the hands of the Member States; however, in the field of social protection, social inclusion and social investment, the EU supports and complements the activities of the Member States in the form of policy guidance, knowledge sharing, exchange of best practices, capacity building, expertise, data and analysis, and financial support.
The European Semester is the main policy process to coordinate European and national policies and efforts to reach the Europe 2020 targets. It provides a framework for the coordination of economic policies across the European Union. It allows EU countries to discuss their economic and budget plans and monitor progress at specific times throughout the year. In particular it permits integrated monitoring of progress on priority structural reforms leading towards the “2020 targets” and offers both EU-wide and country-specific guidance, in the form of Country Specific Recommendations (CSR). Introducing employment and social indicators into the Macroeconomic Imbalance Procedure (MIP) which aims to identify, prevent and address potentially harmful macroeconomic imbalances that could adversely affect economic stability in a particular EU country, the euro area, or the EU as a whole, allows for a better understanding of the labour market, social developments and risks, and increases its relevance in the European Semester process.
The reinforced link between the European Semester and the EU Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) in the funding period 2014-2020 also helps Member States in addressing major employment and social problems. Involvement and close association of parliaments, social partners and representatives of civil society is essential to ensure ownership and facilitate implementation of common initiative, such as the Europe 2020 Strategy, the Social Investment Package (SIP) and, more recently, the European Pillar of Social Rights, which are supported the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF). The objective of the European Pillar of Social Rights is to contribute to social progress by supporting fair and well-functioning labour markets and welfare systems and providing a framework for a set of related legislative and non-legislative initiatives in the Pillar’s areas of focus. The central part of the Pillar focuses on three main principles: 1. equal opportunities and access to the labour market; 2. fair working conditions; 3. and social protection and inclusion.
THE AUTONOMY PATHS Under these headings, 20 ‘key principles’ – policy domains such as housing, education, social and health care and employment – set out the Commission’s position on social rights for citizens, and provide a framework against which Member States can benchmark their social, education and employment policies. In addition to presenting the Pillar as a formal Recommendation, the Commission has proposed that the European Pillar of Social Rights be taken forward as a joint, interinstitutional proclamation by the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission. An online ‘social scoreboard’ has also been launched to track Member State progress against key indicators across the three dimensions of the Pillar. As a related initiative, President Jean-Claude Junker and Sweden’s Prime Minister Stefan Löfven will also co-host a ‘Social Summit for Fair Jobs and Growth’ on 17 November 2017 in Gothenburg, Sweden. In this framework, the social economy and the social enterprises are recognized by the European institutions as key actors in implementing the Europe 2020 Strategy and in contributing to achieving the EU objective of a “social market economy”, with the Single Market Act and the Social Business Initiative (SBI).
With the launch of the SBI in 2011, a lot of European as well as national policy measures, funds and regulatory frameworks were launched in order to promote social enterprises and work integration social enterprises (WISEs)1 . The re-launch of the social economy parliamentary intergroup at the end of 2014 and the strong support to the social economy sector by the Italian (2014), Luxembourg (2015) and Slovakia (2016) Presidencies gave a new impetus to the development of the sector.
Nowadays the work done by the GECES group with its 2016 report “Social enterprises and the social economy going forward”, a call for action that argues for a European Action Plan for the Social Economy and Social Enterprises which is supported by other key European stakeholders, let us think to a new future stimulus by the European institutions to promote an enabling environment for social enterprises and the social economy to flourish.