The Social Economy Intergroup of the European Parliament held a public hearing on 12 January, to discuss ways to create decent and good quality jobs in Europe. Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) as well as external speakers, including Luxemburg's Minister of Labour, Employment and Immigration Nicolas Schmit, highlighted the role of social economy in this regard.
The public hearing revolved around two key issues: the mainstreaming of social economy as an actor into EU employment policies and social economy's contribution to good-quality job creation. Swedish MEP Jens Nilsson, who seats in the Socialists and Democrats (S&D) Group of the Parliament and co-Chairs the Intergroup, gave introductory remarks underlining that social entreprises match social progress and market economy. In addition, Italian MEP Elena Gentile, vice-President of the Intergroup and also seating in the S&D group, emphasized that social economy is not only a creative and flexible business model but also features democratic governance.
Nicolas Schmit said for his part that it was necessary to tackle increasing income gaps in companies and economies, highlighting the role of social economy in fighting EU territorial unbalances. In his opinion, social economy should be "at the centre of an inclusive growth strategy".
Giuseppe Guerini, member of the European Parliament of the European Economic and Social committee and President of the Italian national federation of social cooperatives and social entreprises, laid the emphasis on the major social and societal change social economy carries on. He icke up cooperatives' indivisble reserves as a vector of job creation, community devlopment, and barrier to delocalisation.
Juan Antonio Pedreno, Chairman of Social Economy Europe and President of the Spanish Business Confederation of Social Economy Enterprises (CEPES), as well as Maria Nieves Ramos, President of the European Network of Social Integration Enterprises (ENSIE), portrayed social economy organizations as key actors to encourage social cohesion as they transform employment problems into solutions. In this respect, Mr Pedreno requested that the EU institutions show more ambition when promoting social economy.
Luk Zelderloo, Secretary General of EASPD and Board Member of Social Services Europe, argued that no decent jobs could emerge without social dialogue mechanism at the European level, mentioning that social economy sector should also be covered.