Address: European Cooperative House
Avenue Milcamps 105, 1030 Brussels, Belgium
Telephone: +32 2 543 1033
Email: cecop@cecop.coop

European Conference on Social Economy

17 May 2009 [ English ] français ]

The European conference on social economy organized by SCMVD, the Czech Union of production cooperatives, which is a CECOP member, in collaboration with the Confederation of Employers and Entrepreneurs’ Associations and with the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, took place in Prague from the 16 to the 18 of April in Prague.

The conference, which took place in the framework of the Czech Presidency of the Council of the European Union, has been emphasized by the participation of Czech and European politicians as Vladimir Spidla, EU Commissioner for employment social affairs and equal opportunities, who opened the conference. He underlined that the European Commission gives great importance to enterprises with social vocation; these enterprises promote social protection and, especially in the context of the present crisis, they represent a potential for new jobs in Europe.

The opening session has been an occasion to describe the good practice experiences, two of them have been dedicated to two cooperatives. Among these cases the ERGOTEP experience has been presented. This social cooperative, founded in 2003, includes disabled people by creating jobs adapted to their competences and capabilities (http://www.ergotep.cz). The founders are disabled people and the cooperative has a sheltered workshop statute. The second cooperative experience presented was the Grand Magasin (http://legrandmagasin.coopseurope.coop). This space used for exhibitions and sales is in Berlin and is dedicated to products made by European worker cooperatives.

The speakers underlined the uniqueness of social economy enterprises as keepers of great potential for the creation and preservation of durable jobs. Above all there is the capacity of these enterprises to face the global economic crisis. These actors of social economy asked for a better recognition of the characteristics of their enterprises and for their contribution to social cohesion and to the creation of durable jobs and for their battle against the global warming. A concrete demonstration of this capacity of the cooperative movement has been made by Iain MC Donald, the general director of the International Cooperative Alliance, who has described the case of the list Global300 which shows the important role played into the economy by the cooperative enterprises at national and global level (http://www.global300.coop).

The conclusions of the conference will be published soon. A link will be active on the CECOP web site.