On May 9th, we will celebrate Europe Day. 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. This is all the more important to enable Social Economy to play a substantial role in the strategy to respond to this crisis.
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. France Active is also a member of European networks such as FEBEA, EVPA, and actively participates to European working groups on socially committed entrepreneurship.
The renewal of the guarantee and counter-guarantee agreements by the EIF (European Investment Fund) at the beginning of 2020 within the framework of the EaSI and COSME programs, as well as the financial support of the European Commission to the brand new Seed Fund launched in January 2020 (see our article here), confirm the confidence that Europe places in France Active model. Those European resources are essential to strengthen France Active ability to advise and invest in socially committed enterprises. This is also useful for the development of its social impact assessment approach that takes into account social enterprises specificities, as part of the European project VISES.
This long-standing trust 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. By doing so, Europe reaffirms its support to social economy and its relevance for the development of this field. Our network wishes that the context will allow for a top-down exit that will pave the way for the advent of an inclusive, solidarity-based and sustainable economy, supporting social innovation through solidarity finance, and putting upfront the wellbeing of the European citizens. We work to create and strengthen alliances with European actors sharing that same ambition. France Active network will keep on carrying these ideas in its cooperation with Europe, particularly in the framework of the participation of its president Pierre-René Lemas to the European Commission’s Group of Experts on Social Entrepreneurship (GECES).
Continuing this successful cooperation should enable us to pursue the following goals: