After the inaugural meeting of the Social Economy Intergroup in January this year, the first public hearing took place in the form of an online conference on 2 June 2020. Despite the unusual format of the event due to the COVID-19 pandemic, over 400 participants followed the contributions of the 23 speakers.
CECOP representative from Italian Legacoop Produzione e Servizi, Gianluca Verasani, presented the strength of the Italian cooperatives and the measures developed by the cooperative movement to ensure sustainable growth. Addressing the European Commission, he demanded to acknowledge the role cooperative worker buyouts play in protecting traditional industries by maintaining jobs and skills and demanded to improve relationships between enterprises, universities, and administrations. Mr Verasani called on governments to develop socially responsible public procurement across the European Union to support the social economy enterprises.
After opening remarks by Patrizia Toia MEP (S&D, IT) and Sven Giegold MEP (Greens/EFA, DE), Commissioner Nicolas Schmit (Jobs and Social Rights) took the floor and acknowledged the role of the Social Economy in providing social services to those in need during the ongoing pandemic, but also raised concerns that social economy actors are in dire straits due to the unfolding crisis. He underlined that the European Commission takes efforts to ensure that social economy actors are included in national and European Responses to the COVID-19 crisis. The Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative, the extended scope of the EU Solidarity Fund to health crises, the guarantees provided under the European Investment Fund and the proposal for a European instrument for temporary support to mitigate unemployment risks in an emergency (SURE) will provide support for the social economy.
These remarks where followed by contributions of Yolanda Diaz, Spanish Minister of Labour and Social Economy and Francesca Puglisi, Under-Secretary of State in the Italian Ministry of Labour and Social Policy. The first panel was concluded by Juan Antonio Pedreño, the President of Social Economy Europe, who underlined the role of the Social Economy and collective entrepreneurship to reindustrialize Europe.
During the second session, regional experts shared best practices of the social economy in Murcia, Brussels, and West Pomerania, and the event was concluded by remarks from MEPs Manon Aubry (GUE/NGL, FR), Monica Semedo (Renew, LU) and Leopoldo López MEP (EPP, ES) and Jérôme Saddier, Vice-president of Social Economy Europe.