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GSEF2018: RIPESS and REAS Euskadi present the Declaration for a Transformative SSE
Declaration Transformative SSE Bilbao

Within the framework of the GSEF2018 (Global Social Economy Forum) in Bilbao on the 2nd of October 2018, RIPESS and REAS Euskadi have launched the Declaration for a Transformative Social and Solidarity Economy. The statement comes when it is the thenth anniversary since the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers, the trigger that ignited the biggest financial crisis even known.

The outbreak of the financial crisis in September 2008 placed capitalism at the centre of all citizen’s criticism. However, in these ten years the much-awaited and necessary changes have not occurred. Quite the contrary: the processes of financialization of the economy have increased, its speculative character has strengthened and, above all, the poverty and inequality rates on the planet have grown significantly.

Therefore, the statement wants to “raise the voice to denounce capitalism that commodifies and threatens our lives and our planet. It is a hetero-patriarcal capitalism that promotes discrimination against women and excludes diversity “.

In this way, the people, organizations and networks of SEE present at GSEF 2018 commit themselves through this declaration to “working together with other social movements for the transformation of the economy through alternative and social initiatives in the areas of finance, production, marketing and consumption. By transforming the economy, we transform territories and communities and thus promote a new cultural, social and political model”.

With this initiative, a commitment is made to a transforming social and solidarity-based economy at the service of a New World that is more just, respectful, democratic and sustainable. It is now a question of joining forces, and all existing practices, to build and impose an Inclusive Global Agenda from the Local to the International, and show that we have answers and proposals to overcome today’s huge global challenges.

In the act of launching the declaration, the World Social Forum of the Transformative Economies that will be held in Barcelona in 2020 has also been presented to the people attending the GSEF 2018.

You can consult the Declaration for a transforming Social and Solidarity Economy here.

The debt shackles are off: watch Greek social enterprises go!
kalo SSE in Greece

[by Antonis Vorloou | former Secretary of SSE of the Greek government]

This article which appeared in the Thomson Reuters Foundations News (Tuesday, 18 September 2018) is published with the Author’s consent.

Debt laden Greek consumers have been forced to choose cheap but with the economy improving, will they ‘buy social’?

Decades of crony capitalism and regulatory capture have left Greek productivity crippled, eroded trust between the state and the citizens and – most disturbingly – everyone has placed “self-interest” above all else. The 2009 debt crisis revealed in the most shocking way the deficiencies of the “system” with unemployment sky rocketing to unprecedented levels (28% by 2013) and purchasing power reduced by over 25%. A social economy has been successfully proposed in many countries as an alternative to the market economy, yet in Greece it was first introduced during the early years of the crisis and was mostly regarded as a policy tool to restrain growing unemployment.

Some also had the controversial expectation that it could be a way to shrink the public sector by outsourcing to social enterprises. The economic outlook was especially distressing during the period of the euro zone’s debt relief measures for Greece, due to the shrinking demand triggered by dwindling purchasing power. In such an environment the competitive advantage lays with the enterprise which can cut costs and prices and not with the one which integrate a social premium into their products.

For this new way of doing business to be successful, two ingredients are essential – an enabling environment and a culture of contributing to the society. In a growing economy, aided by policy measures, a social economy can thrive and be regarded as an employer of choice, given the reward of doing something good and worthwhile for the society. Fast forward to today. Post bailout, unemployment has dropped below 20%, the minimum wage is on the rise and an air of normalcy is returning to the economy. The ability of workers to choose their employer is increasing and the purchasing power of consumers is on the rise giving them the opportunity to choose not just the cheapest product, but also one that has social added value.

The Greek government, which views a Social and Solidarity Economy as the new paradigm for aligning the interests of the market to those of the society, has introduced a new legal framework for social enterprises in 2016. This expanded the previous definition of Social and Solidarity Economy entities beyond Social Cooperative Enterprises, which were first introduced in 2011 and includes Workers Cooperatives – a new legal form – as well as all other types of entities which have a social purpose, democratic governance and limited distribution of profits. This has given a boost to the sector which includes more than eleven hundred organisations, half of them created during the last 18 months, with a combined turnover of over 10 million euros and employing over a thousand workers as well as mobilizing numerous volunteers.

To strengthen this dynamism, an ambitious plan to provide a supporting environment for the development of new and existing Social and Solidarity Economy actors is also implemented. The plan, which has a budget of over 170 million euros for the next five years, includes business development services, financial support through grants and state backed loans and a multitude of dissemination actions.

Creating a culture of giving and building trust, on the other hand, needs a more subtle and systematic approach.  Efforts to that end are being made in order to mobilize dormant societal forces so that this type of mentality becomes visible and eventually mainstream. These include the promotion of social impact measurement as well as cooperation with international organisations of the sector – such as RIPESS – in order to identify and implement new and innovative actions.

A Social and Solidarity Economy in Greece is still young but with the boost it will be given from governmental policies, together with the improving economic outlook post bailout, it has the potential to create a new way of doing business which is aligned with the interests of the many.

Antonis Vorloou is the former Special Secretary for the Social and Solidarity Economy law, which recognises different kinds of social enterprises in Greece.

GSEF2018: Bilbao welcomes the Cities promoting SSE

The Capital of the Basque Country – Bilbao – is hosting the 4the edition of the Global Social Economy Forum, GSEF2018, from the 1st to the 3rd of October. The title of the Forum is: ‘Social economy and cities – Values and competitiveness for an inclusive and sustainable local development”. The GSEF that was initiated by the City of Seoul in 2013, in collaboration with its local social economy partners, is an international network that brings together local governments and civil society stakeholders committed to supporting the development of the Social Economy (SE).. In 2016 it took place in Montreal, Canada, and RIPESS participated and became a member. This year the RIPESS delegation is quite large, coming from all continents, and present in several sessions.

REAS – through REAS Euskadi, the local network – has been part of the organising committee and has involved many solidarity economy actors at the local level.

On the 2nd of October, REAS Euskadi, XES and RIPESS are organising a special moment dedicated to present the “Declaration for a transformative Social Solidarity Economy” and the World Social Forum of Transformative Economies.

The programme and key speakers are available on the GSEF website.

 

The 4 SSE projects of the French government

We open this letter on the news of the (French) government which, as we mentioned in the editorial of the month of January, leads four projects in connection with the Social and Solidarity Economy.

On 18 January, we were able to attend the inauguration of #FrenchIMPACT, the national accelerator for social innovation, and the launch of the first “Pionniers French Impact” call for projects whose objective is to build the showcase of socially innovative entrepreneurs. A call for applications will be launched in March to build the French ecosystem of social innovation and experiment with local accelerators on pilot territories, before the extension of the device on the whole national territory in 2019. It is clear that the stated objective is to support, far beyond the associations, mutuals and foundations, any company which, by its activity innovates socially by making it possible to reach quantifiable social objectives generating savings for the public expenses. It is a vision of social innovation reduced to the sole measure of social impact, but a vision that seems to bring together several members of the government, since three ministers surrounded Christophe Itier for this launch.

A vision that is consistent with the Action Plan for Growth and Transformation of Enterprises (PACTE) and the announcement of the mission entrusted to Nicole Notat and Jean-Dominique Senard on “business and general interest”. As we announced, this topic raises questions from the actors of the ESS who are mobilizing to value the contribution and the experience of SSE on this subject. Michel Prugue, president of Coop de France, said in an article published in Up Magazine this February 8: “Inspired by the Anglo-Saxon model of “B.CORP “, these companies” mission “would be more citizen-based, more modern, more committed … more human! Indeed, a business can be governed by something other than the rapid return on capital and the short-term profit of its shareholders; the people who compose it can be respected, their participation can be valued; the long term can be protected in the name of the collective interests of today’s women and men and their children, and the children of their children. All this may seem extremely innovative, but for us, it’s our daily life though being sometimes … very old companies! See also on this point the forums published in the monthly letter n ° 117 of CIRIEC and in particular that of Jean Gatel who was Secretary of State, in charge of the Social Economy.

If the Movement for the Solidarity Economy (MESà conceives / understands this desire to moralize the lucrative enterprises to tend towards a more ethical capitalism, we remain vigilant so that the notion of general interest is not distorted. We remain above all mobilized to defend the diversity of citizen dynamics working for a transition towards a more solidarity-based, more just and more sustainable society. If, as stated by Les Echos, a majority of bosses would be favorable to companies with a mission to see a new opportunity for companies to go further in the CSR and to go beyond the green or the social washing, why not propose to these companies to meet the obligations imposed today by the ESUS approval, it would already be a great step forward.

(Extract from the editorial of the MES – Movement for the Solidarity Economy – of the February 2018 newsletter)

See the full text (in French) here.

The European Pillar of Social rights: RIPESS Europe’s contribution

On the occasion of the Social Summit in Goteborg (16-18 Novembre 2017), the European Parliament, the Council and the European Commission jointly proclaimed the European Pillar of Social Rights, which was first announced by President Juncker in his 2015 State of the Union Address and presented by the Commission in April 2017. Its proclamation underlines the joint commitment of EU-leaders to stand by and promote the 20 principles and rights enshrined under the Pillar.

In September 2015, the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker announced the establishment of a European Pillar of Social Rights, during his speech on the state of the Union to the European Parliament. The European Pillar is part of an economic and monetary union. This initiative is part of the Commission’s work towards a deeper and fairer Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) and the framework of the 2016 work program of the Commission. In this perspective, a public consultation was opened all the year 2016, to which  RIPESS Europe participated by sending to the Commission a written contribution which you will find here: RIPESS EU Contribution to the public consultation on EU social pilar.

Following the series of consultations and works set up in 2016 and 2017, the European Commission, on the 17th of November, 2017, the Presidents of the EU Institutions, EU Heads of State or Government, social partners and other key stakeholders gathered at the Social Summit in Gothenburg, Sweden, to have an open discussion amongst all participants on how to promote fair jobs and growth in the European Union. The Pillar of Social Rights is about delivering new and more effective rights for citizens. It builds upon 20 key principles, structured around three categories:

  • Equal opportunities and access to the labour market

  • Fair working conditions

  • Social protection and inclusion

To learn more about the European Pillar of Social Rights:

Co-create the European SSE public policies: a possible challenge?

The second European Forum of the SSE (EFSSE 2017) took place on November 9, 2017, organised in the premises of the Parliament by the GUE/ NGL Group,for the occasion driven by Marie-Christine Vergiat, French MEP. Following the first session, we can note an increase in the representation of networks of solidarity economy.

RIPESS Europe actively participated in the organization of the second edition, with several invited members, some of which met the day before for a dinner following a coordination Committee. Read more

The new Greek law on SSE: progressing in the right direction
Greek Parliament Athens

At the end of October 2016 the Greek parliament voted for the new law 4430/2016 on the “Social and Solidarity Economy and the development of its actors”.

In our point of view, this law constitutes an essential progress for the development of SSE in Greece since it sets a framework of specific values and principles that define the actors, as SSE actors. More specifically, it disconnects the legal entity and the legal status as a precondition to be a SSE actor.

Read more

Barcelona: the plural economy that transforms our towns
Barcelona mercado social

During the days of 20 and 21 October 2016, Barcelona hosted the second Trobada Internacional de Municipalisme i Economia Solidària, organised by the Commissioner of Social Solidarity and Cooperative Economy of the Barcelona City Council. The title of the encounter was “Cities for a plural and transformative economy”, focusing on the role that municipalities and, more generally local governments, have and may have in the context of the promotion of the solidarity economy.

International guests, representatives of local authorities and actors of organised civil society (cooperatives, collectives of local action, networks of solidarity economy, etc.) participated in the event, which was intended to be a space for sharing, cooperation and the exchange of knowledge and experience in the field of solidarity economy and local government, with the main objective of working on a model of socio-economic development based on participation, horizontality, respect for work, social cohesion and environmental sustainability, in contrast to the forms that prevail today in exploitation and exclusion.

Read more

Greece: a bill on the SSE will soon be presented to Parliament
October 16, 2016
0
Gréce, Greece

The Greek Government will soon present a Bill to the Parliament on the “Social and Solidarity Economy and the development of its agencies”, in order to expand to other forms of enterprises the scope of the 2011 Law on cooperatives, which no longer meets current needs.

This law will therefore focus on cooperatives, collaborative work as well as on mutual societies, associations and foundations.  According to  CECOP,, most of the provisions are actually to define and regulate social cooperatives and associated work.

 

The Greek Minister of Employment, Rania Antonopoulou, has set among the objectives of the law the development of  “all small businesses”, including those addressing needs of education, health, employment, environment and support to migrants.

Parmi les objectifs de la Ministre adjointe de l’Emploi, Rania Antonopoulou, qui porte cette loi, figure le développement des “toutes petites entreprises”, dont celles répondant à des besoins d’éducation, de santé, d’emploi, d’environnement et de soutien des migrants.

[Source: RTES]

GSEF 2016: an alliance between local governments and SSE actors
gsef2016

The Global Forum on Social Economy took place at Montreal’s Conference Centre from September 7 to 9. This third edition, jointly organized by the city of Montreal and the Chantier de l’économie sociale, was held under the slogan “Local Governments and actors of the Social Economy. Allied for the development of smart and sustainable cities”.

More than 1300 participants, 62 countries represented, 330 cities and 120 initiatives have demonstrated the dynamism and diversity of collective entrepreneurship.The opening was attended by Mr. Denis Coderre, Mayor of Montreal and co-organizer of GSEF2016, M. Park Won Soon, Mayor of Seoul and Co-President of the GSEF Association, M. Kyong Song Yong, President of the Seoul’s Solidarity Economy Network and Co-President of the GSEF Association, Jean-Martin Aussant, General Director of the Chantier de l’économie sociale and co-organizer of GSEF2016, Mr. Ghislain Picard, Chief of the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador, M. Jean – Yves Duclos, Minister of Family, Children and Social Development from Canada´s Government. Read more

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