Future of Welfare in Europe: Social Economy vs. Social Business?

On 16 and 17 December SOLIDAR members from 6 EU members states met at a conference hosted by Volkshilfe “Together for a strong social economy in Europe” to develop a new cooperation program based on our common vision of social economy at European level. At this conference it was agreed to develop a reference framework (‘manifesto’) that highlights our common perspective on the social economy, outlining our stand against the commercialisation of the social sector. Social economy actors are a bearing pillar of our democratic society. They are promoting the quality of living together, ensuring the peaceful environment of our social system and are improving the lives of many people.

In times of growing social disparities, an increasing number of people excluded from society and the discussion about distributive justice of public means, the provision of qualitative, comprehensive and affordable social services becomes increasingly challenging. Social economy enterprises can provide these services based on an alternative economic model without exclusively looking for maximisation of profit and reduction of costs at any price. Based on our values, our social economy enterprises stand develops constantly socially innovative approaches for a sustainable, inclusive and democratic alternative “business model”. Their economic activity concentrates on the social return of investment, values individual and collective skills, competences and knowledge and often emerges from local dynamics and needs. Through our approach we contribute to a more cohesive and more social Europe.

Our members present at the Social Entrepreneurs Conference next week in Strasbourg will make the difference by intervening in this sense. And internally a working group will further develop our ‘manifesto’.