Regarding European initiatives, Benoit Hamon asserted that he was paying particular attention to the European Commission’s measures in favor of social entrepreneurship. He also declared his full support for the establishment of a statute for European mutual societies – currently under discussion in the European Parliament – which he considers an essential instrument for the development of mutuals. The French minister also spoke of his desire to see improvements in the current statute for European cooperatives, announcing a law to be passed in France in the first six months of 2013 to modernize the cooperative model.
Regarding public procurement directives, the minister emphasized France’s interest in seeing social factors included in the criteria for awarding public contracts. As companies in the social economy operate in competitive sectors, they require funding instruments suited to their needs. The future French public investment bank, which should be created in the coming days, will thus include a department dedicated to financing the social economy.
Benoît Hamon went on to praise the benefits of the social economy, a sector that combines “economic performance, social utility and democratic governance,” and that was better able to withstand the crisis thanks to its limited short-term exposure. He stressed that “the social economy is not an economy of the poor, by the poor and for the poor,” nor a “remedial economy,” but an economy that is active in competitive sectors and exhibits a high level of social and economic innovation.
Over the past 10 years, the social economy has created 440,000 new jobs in France, for a growth rate of 23% (over the same period, private sector jobs as a whole grew by only 7%). Today, with 2.3 million workers, the social economy accounts for an estimated 10% of wealth produced in France and nearly 13% of jobs.