The meeting was opened by the MEP Raffaele Baldassarre (Co-Chair of the Social Economy Intergroup), who emphasized the role played by cooperatives in the European economy, especially in terms of maintaining jobs and social inclusion in the current times of crisis, and the need to support them both financially and politically. At that occasion, the MEP Patrizia Toia presented the salient aspects and recommendations of the report recently approved by the European Parliament on the contribution of cooperatives active to overcome the crisis, where specific attention is given to worker buy-outs and to the role played by industrial and service cooperatives in providing jobs. She considered the approval of the report an important step forward in the promotion of cooperatives in Europe “even though there is still much to be done, especially in terms of creation of a favorable legal framework and access to financing”.
The European Commission was represented by Axel de Martène (Member of Commissioner Barnier´s Cabinet) and Ettore Marchetti (DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion), which respectively put the emphasis on the recognition of the plurality of business and the need to learn from the social economy experience to re-start with a more sustainable economic paradigm.
The MEP Marie-Christine Vergiat (vice-Chair of the Social Economy Intergroup) concluded the meeting welcoming that there is an increasing attention towards social economy. At the same time, she drew the attention on the fact that social economy is not something new: in fact, modern cooperatives have been developing over the last 200 years, and have resisted more than one crisis. In addition to that, cooperatives have not only resisted the current crisis but they have also increased the number of jobs created.