On 15th of June, the Policy Learning Platform organised an online discussion on the topic of supporting the social economy in 2023. STRIA considers the topic important, and it is no coincidence that it has previously run an Erasmus+ project on social entrepreneurship (SAGA and SAGA platform)
The social economy is gaining ground, as shown by the European Commission’s published the Social Economy Action Plan in December 2021. Clearly, it’s a popular topic during the previous Interreg Europe programme period and is open during the new period as well.
During the meeting, Mart Veliste introduced the theme with the following:
- In the policy learning platform, we can find several related materials such as events, policy briefs and articles on social economy.
- What do we mean on social economy, social enterprises, social innovation – for what we need an enabling policy framework.
- Steps in the social innovation transformation process.
- What challenges do social entrepreneurships need to face – in different stages of their development have different support needs.
In response to these suggestions, experiences from the Interreg Europe community were presented in the following order:
- Paula Santarén Rodríguez spoke about the social economy developments in Catalonia since the RaiSE project concluded.
- Anu Harju-Myllyaho and Sari Nisula highlighted the social economy developments, since the SOCENT SPAs project achieved a local policy change where social economy was included in Lapland’s S3 strategy.
- István Tamás Szenttamási summarized the results of the SOCIAL SEEDS project extension and the social enterprise ecosystem and its policy environment in Hungary.
Then from the new period:
- Alexandra Carcu briefly presented the Future proof microfinance for social inclusion –MICROFUTURE project
- Yiannis Pappas introduced the Social Economy – Regional Policies for supporting Social Economy Enterprises SECON project.
As the closure of the event, participants talked about the available fundings in their regions and national & European level. National and European support programmes were mentioned in most cases. Nevertheless, the main issue seems to be that the fundings are only for short term (max. 3-5 years) and after most of the social enterprises struggle to maintain their activities or develop, move forward and in the same time not to change their social objectives to generate profit as it’s a core characteristic of a social enterprise.
The discussion was an opportunity to reconnect with relevant Interreg Europe community members from the 2014-2020 period and meet some of the partners of the new period’s social economy projects.