The European Commission published new study “Digital Technologies and the Social Economy”, analysing the impact digital economies have and proposing strategies for successful implementation of the digital transition in social enterprises. CECOP congratulates Outlandish Coop from the UK, Mensakas SCCL from Spain, FairBNB from Italy, and the Mobility Factory SCE from Belgium for being featured in the report as good practices showing the successful implementation of digital technology to serve a social purpose.
Based on in-depth case studies from Greece, Italy, the Netherlands and the UK, the study explores the opportunities and challenges of digital technologies, the digitalization process of the social economy and sketches out possible futures and potential trajectories of digital platforms and advanced technologies within the social economy.
The report shows that the use of digital technologies must be consistent with the social vision and mission, the approach and the business model of social economy enterprises. Worker cooperatives have proven to be capable to implement new technologies, be it as platform cooperatives, cooperatives as digital service provider (i.e. The Outlandish Cooperative developing data tools), or as social service provider utilizing digital technology tools to improve their service provision, as the report showcases for the Italian Social Economy.
To ensure that the benefits of digitalization can be harnessed by social economy actors, such as cooperatives, the report highlights five main topics to be addressed: (1) access to resources to invest in new technologies, (2) access to revenues, (3) develop skills and provide education and training, (4) fostering collaboration, and (5) provide favourable laws and regulations.
CECOP agrees with these fields of interventions and invites European, national and local policy makers to engage with the worker cooperative movement to develop suitable and well adapted frameworks to support the digital transition of the social economy. The Industrial and SME strategies needs to provide resources for cooperatives for the digital transition to allow for strategic investment in digital technologies. Public procurement directives need to allow for support of the social economy by including and promoting social indicators in public tenders. The new European Skills Agenda needs support cooperatives in training their members and bring cooperatives business models into management curricula. Lastly, the EU and its Member States need to develop favourable national legislation to develop new cooperatives and that allows to implement a democratically controlled and locally rooted digital transition.