In the framework of the Social economy Intergroup of the European Parliament, Pietro Romano, on behalf of Ipse, took part in the first meeting of 2016. The Intergroup reaffirmed its commitment to promote the social and solidarity economy (SSE), an economic model that is still widely under-recognized at the European level. Ipse fully supports the position of the Intergroup that consists in the idea that SSE should not only aim to create jobs against a background of economic crisis, but first and foremost to create good quality jobs.
« At the present rate of improvement, the European Union will regain its pre-crisis employment level only in 2022; this is just an average figure, meaning that for countries like Spain or Portugal it will take even longer », warned Nicolas Schmit, Luxembourgisch Minister of Labour, at the Social economy Intergroup meeting on Tuesday 12 January in Brussels. Despite the fact that job creation still remains key to tackle the current crises, namely the economic and the refugee crises, only good quality jobs will fully meet these challenges. Hence, the European institutions should focus on work conditions, since « precarity of work entails precarity of life », underlined Minister Schmit.
Concerning the quality of jobs in social enterprises, the landscape differs deeply from one Member State to another. For instance, in Poland, where social economy is still very young, jobs within social cooperatives are often part-time and do not guarantee a proper access to social security, whereas in countries like Germany and Italy the situation is rather different. Deeply rooted in the history of these countries, social economy enterprises benefit from various legal statuses and contribute to the creation of good quality jobs that foster the economic integration of the most fragile sections of the population, such as women, young people and vulnerable persons. Giuseppe Guerini, spokesperson of the Alleanza delle cooperative italiane sociali (Alliance of Italian social cooperatives), underlined that in Italy there is a large amount of data available on social enterprises. Noting that the jobs created by these enterprises increased by 115% between 2001 and 2014, Guerini explained this success with three key factors: 1) the motivation to create a fairer world; 2) the indivisibility of the resources that stimulates investment on the company’s development; 3) the ability to mobilize different players towards a common goal rooted in the territory.
For its part, the European Commission recalled its engagement in favour of social economy, namely through the renewed organisation of the Directorate general for employment and social affairs and the guidelines adopted in October 2015 in which social economy is clearly mentioned.
Decent work is high on the agenda of the Dutch presidency of the Council of the European Union that began on 1 January. It remains to be seen if the Netherlands will put forward social economy with the same energy of the Luxembourgisch presidency that preceded them. In the meantime, Ipse will participate to the first European Forum on Social and Solidarity Economy in Brussels on 28 January, where more than 250 representatives of social enterprises will exchange their best practices and discuss on how to punch their weight on EU policy making.