This conference gathered Cabinet advisers of the main EU Commissioners concerned by the Social Business Initiative, namely Michel Barnier (Internal Market), László Andor (Employment) and Antonio Tajani (Industry), MEP in charge of the Parliament reaction to the SBI, Heinz K. Becker, and MEP Patrizia Toia as well as Luca Jahier, President of Group III of the European Economic and Social Committee. Experiences from Italy, France, Spain, Poland and Portugal of social cooperatives in term of social inclusion were presented to the audience.

Giuseppe Guerini, President of Federsolidarietà (IT) explained the crucial role that social cooperatives have in Italian society and economy and the influence they have had in other European countries.

In fact, the Italian law of 1991 regulating social cooperatives has served as an emblematic example for other countries that adopted a specific regulation in the fields of sustainable work integration and provision of social services.

Social cooperatives bring innovative and sustainable answers to societal needs because they are rooted in the communities where those directly concerned by those needs live (disadvantaged workers, service users etc.); in many cases, such stakeholders directly take part in the control and management of the cooperatives.

Jiri Plecity from the cabinet of Commissioner László Andor underlined social cooperatives’ contribution to new challenges such as the decrease of resources, environment, demographic changes etc. In his conclusions, Rossano Rimelli, the CECOP president, underlined that the market was not only reserved for conventional enterprises, and that other types of enterprises could coexist.

He placed special emphasis on the fact that legislation on social cooperatives exists in 7 different countries in the European Union, and they represent a considerable entrepreneurial and social experience, which one must take into account.