Europe day: social economy in the headlines
On May 9th, the European Union is celebrating Europe Day. Every year, France Active takes this opportunity to highlight its cooperation with the EU towards a more inclusive and sustainable economy. This year, France Active took part in the European event in Strasbourg.
Entrepreneurs, networks, institutions, investors: all the European social economy stakeholders have met on May 5th and 6th, 2022 in Strasbourg during the event: “Social economy, the future of Europe”. Co-organized by the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union, the French State Secretariat for the social, solidarity-based and responsible economy, the city and Eurometropolis of Strasbourg, the European Commission, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the European Committee of the Regions, this event rose awareness of the social economy.France Active has organized there a conference entitled “Public, private and citizen investors: how to accelerate in cooperation the impact of the social economy on the territories?”. The discussions led by Florence Rémy, director of France Active Alsace, illustrated the mobilization of public and private investors from European to local level to finance social enterprises. Pierre René Lemas, President of France Active; Pia Imbs, President of the Strasbourg Eurometropolis; Roger Havenith, Deputy Managing Director of the European Investment Fund; Denis Dementhon, CEO of France Active, Bruno Dunkel, General Manager of Inpulse; Jean Ruch, Co-director of Familles Solidaires and Judith Fischer, CEO of Discovia shared their vision on multi-partner cooperation in favour of the social economy and territories. Together, they emphasized the relevance of social economy to address territorial challenges: creation of new jobs which are not at risk of relocation and gateways to employment for those who are furthest away from it, social services, mobility issues or new regional planning, circular economy, or ecological transition.According to Pia Imbs, the development of the social economy within the Strasbourg Eurometropolis is a priority: “we’ve become aware that the social economy is the most perennial. That’s why we created a network with the local enterprises: the Pact for a local and sustainable economy”. The word of the representatives of the European Union was also expected. According to Roger Havenith, Deputy Managing Director of the European Investment Fund, “the social economy is fully part of the mandate of the EIF. Thanks to the new InvestEU programme, we will take a real leap forward. Indeed, the social dimension of our action is now a pillar, which has its own objectives and indicators to monitor this collective action”. As for Pierre-René Lemas, he underlined the usefulness of the cooperation in which France Active places its action: “The territories are in our DNA. For more than 30 years, we have been convinced that the economy is built by and for the territories, where all possible forms of solidarity are exercised”.Thanks to the momentum created by this event and within the implementation of the European action plan for the social economy of the European Commission, France Active continues more than ever its commitment to make the social economy the future of Europe.
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France Active at the « Social economy, the future of Europe » event
All the European social economy stakeholders will meet on May 5 and 6, 2022 in Strasbourg during an event co-organized by the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union, the French State Secretariat for the Social, Solidarity and responsible, the city and Euro metropolis of Strasbourg, the European Commission, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the European Committee of the Regions. This event is a unique opportunity to meet and work together for the development and recognition of the social economy within the European Union.
France Active will organize there a conference entitled “Public, private and citizen investors: how to accelerate in cooperation the impact of the social economy on the territories?”. The goal is to promote multi-partner cooperation, from European to local level, in favor of consulting and investment solutions for better social and ecological impact.
The following speakers will take part in this conference hosted by Florence Rémy, Director of France Active Alsace on May 5 from 1:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.:
- Pierre René Lemas, President of France Active
- Pia Imbs, President of the Strasbourg Eurometropolis
- Roger Havenith, Deputy Managing Director of the European Investment Fund
- Philippe Zaouati, Managing Director of Mirova
- Bruno Dunkel, General Manager of Inpulse,
- Bernadette Paul-Cornu, Co-director of Familles Solidaires
- Judith Fischer, CEO of Discovia
Consult the program and register
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Social finance week from November 8th to 15th
Since 2008, the Social Finance Week takes place each year in November, aka the Social Economy Month in France. It aims at raising public awareness about social finance though various events all over France. The 14th edition will be held from November 8th to 15th. As the last French Social Finance Barometer published by FAIR (former Finansol) shows, this initiative is becoming increasingly important.
Sponsored by the daily newspaper Le Monde as well as by FAIR, the “Grands Prix de la finance solidaire” will be awarded during this week. The prizes will be granted to social enterprises that have been supported by social finance. The prizewinners will be announced during the award ceremony on November 9th at the City Hall of Lyon.
Social finance, and more specifically solidarity-based finance as we call it in France, supports various social or environmental ventures with citizen’s savings. Savings are invested partially or totally in activities like job creation for people who have been out of work for some time, housing very low-income families, energy-saving devices or business start-ups in developing countries. Asset management companies collect solidarity-based savings and invest them in social investment companies. France Active Investissement thus mobilizes those savings to finance social enterprises, at every stage of their company’s life (seed stage, development, recovery, etc.). With 254,8 million euros in capital at the end of 2020, France Active Investissement invested in 2020 more than 22 million euros in 338 social enterprises.
Increasing Solidarity in Europe – Nicolas Schmit, European commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights
The European Commission is preparing an Action Plan to implement the European Pillar of Social Rights. After the crisis, is it still urgent to accelerate social reforms?
The emergency already existed before the crisis. Over the past decade, some flattering economic indicators have masked a rise of inequality – these issues were inherited from the previous crisis. The new European Commission then placed digital and green transformation at the center of its priorities. While this digital and green transition creates jobs, it requires a considerable effort in professional training, especially in new technologies. The COVID-19 crisis has accelerated these pre-existing trends. In the short term, the projections are alarming for the climate if we do not drastically reduce emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2). The challenges are colossal, the development of skills is crucial if we want to avoid massive and structural unemployment. The situation also amplifies inequalities and the risks of poverty. There is therefore a legitimate expectation to rebuild with more social justice. The young generations are the first victims of this crisis in terms of employment, education but also social life. Not only there is a risk of producing a new lost generation but also a desperate one.
The European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan must set the course to avoid a real social crisis. Investment must create new jobs through digital and green technologies. There is a need for mobilization at all levels and social economy actors should play an important role.
How does this Action Plan concern the Social Economy (SE) world?
SE enterprises are pursuing the same objectives as the Action Plan to implement the Pillar, including social cohesion, the creation of quality jobs, sustainable development, the struggle against social inequalities and the protection of the most vulnerable. The economy and society must be reconciled, which means, as President Ursula von der Leyen said, “an economy that works for people”.
The Action Plan includes an initiative in favor of the SE. These enterprises that have been often hard-hit by the crisis and must therefore be supported, will contribute to the economic recovery and its inclusiveness. We propose to strengthen the resilience of the sector, by helping its professionalization, its development, its visibility and by improving its access to financing and access to market.
You recently said that it was time “to have a reflection on the social value of work”. How can we transform the models in Europe?
The question of the value and dignity of work has been raised for a long time already. Precariousness is spreading and affects in particular the youth. The pandemic taught us that women often occupy jobs that are essential for the functioning of society. Yet, they are less paid and their working conditions are often difficult. They need to be revalued. More broadly, we need more social convergence in Europe.
The European Commission’s proposal on minimum wages aims to raise low wages in Europe and to reduce the increase in numbers of working poor, among other things. The end of the crisis should be the time to rebuild a new social contract. This Action Plan must include very concrete solutions while redesigning the European social model where economic success goes hand in hand with social and ecological progress
France Active and the European Union: building a more inclusive and sustainable economy
The European Union celebrates Europe Day on May 9th. This occasion is an opportunity to recall the crucial role held by the European Union for the preservation of both employment and social cohesion, as well as its cooperation with France Active on these matters. In the particular context of the health and economic crisis linked to COVID-19, the continuity of this support is more than ever essential to give us the possibility to keep supporting socially committed entrepreneurs on their path to recovery and relaunch.
A long-standing support
France Active has been working with Europe for more than 20 years, to develop social cohesion in our territories, and ease the access to employment through entrepreneurship.
In order to do so, France Active has benefitted from European funding, through the mobilization of the European Social Fund, the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) but also the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD). It has also benefitted from the support of the European Investment Fund for its financial structures, France Active Investissement and France Active Garantie. The EIF supports their activity through guarantee and counter-guarantee agreements and even strengthened its support during the Covid19 crisis by adopting specific measures. These have enabled FAG and FAI to further strengthen their support to entrepreneurs facing difficulties. Furthermore, the European Commission granted financial support to France Active’s Seed Fund launched in February 2020, which has supported some thirty entrepreneurs in launching their projects with a strong social and environmental impact.
In addition, France Active contributes as much as possible to the prefiguration of the next European programming 21-27 in order to defend the inclusion of issues related to the development of the social and solidarity economy in Europe
Plan for Social Economy
Social economy organisations have demonstrated their capacity to contribute to the strengthening and building of resilient communities. This is more apparent today than ever, as they propose solutions that respond to the challenges and expectations raised by the Covid-19 crisis (local solidarity, social care, relocation of supply sustainable food chains…).
With the future action plan for Social Economy, Europe affirms its support to social economy and its ambition to create enabling conditions for social economy to fulfil its potential to contribute to sustainable and inclusive growth.
France Active will host two online sessions during the European Social Economy Summit the 27th may, jointly organized by the European Commission and the City of Mannheim. This summit will be an important milestone towards the European action plan for Social Economy. It is an opportunity to discuss how social economy can help reshape the economy post-COVID by promoting inclusive, sustainable economic models.
This long-standing trust between France Active and European Union takes on particular resonance in the current context. France Active is working alongside the European institutions to implement specific measures to respond to the crisis and to guarantee the access of social economy actors to the economic rescue measures planned by the European Union.
Encouraging post-crisis recovery
France Active mobilizes with its partners solutions to enable social entrepreneurs to resist the loss of activity they might encounter in the current period, and to prepare the relaunch of their activity in the aftermath of the crisis, as per its current motto: “Today we face, tomorrow we restart!”.
With the support of the French public financial institution Caisse des Dépôts, private partners, as well as some French Regions, France Active also created under its Turnaround Pact a new offer to provide dedicated support and funding to entrepreneurs with high social, environmental and job impact. It consists in a zero-rate loan which aims at helping those enterprises address their urgent liquidity needs and giving them time to work out a financial restructuring plan. This could enable them to mobilize later on France Active’s usual funding solutions.
Continuing this successful cooperation should enable us to pursue the following goals:
- To support all kinds of committed entrepreneurship, and more specifically the model of social and solidarity-based companies.
- To promote solidarity finance in Europe based upon the search of a strong and sustainable social and environmental impact.