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Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs
Press release11 October 2018Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

European Social Economy Regions 2018 Pilot – concluding events in Bilbao and Brussels

ESER Community
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ESER supports regional authorities in organising awareness-raising events where regional social economy stakeholders (regional/local public authorities, SMEs, social enterprises etc.) are invited and encouraged to build active networks. This has attracted 32 EU regions/cities from 14 EU Countries (FR, ES, IT, DE, PL, NL, BE, FI, HU, RO, BG, SI, GR, IE).

In course of 2018, 32 EU pioneering regions/cities rolled-out the regional ESER events all over Europe. The Commission contributed to the regional events by providing the ESER visual identity and sending an expert to present EU policies and initiatives in social economy.
Two ESER concluding events took place in October. During the Global Social Economy Forum in Bilbao on 2 October and during the European Week of Regions and Cities in Brussels on 9 October.
The Commission's Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations recently published a study on social economy in the Western Balkans and Eastern Neighbourhood countries.
During the event in Bilbao, social economy stakeholders from these 2 regions were invited to participate in talks on the external dimension of the initiative (in addition to the 32 pioneering EU regions).

The participants appreciated the Commission's 'go local approach'. Due to different historical/economic backgrounds, the understanding of the social economy concept within Europe is different. Which is also reflected in legislative/financial support and framework conditions which vary from one EU country to another. Meetings and debates with regional/local social economy stakeholders and regional authorities provided useful input and ideas for future social economy policies, initiatives and projects at EU level. Participants see public procurement, digitalisation, internalisation, building technical capacities, links to smart specialisation, education/social economy branding and supportive EU tools as important aspects of the social economy that require consideration and development in the future.

Attendees mentioned 'co-construction' as the most important way to involve regional and local stakeholders in the discussion on future social economy policy-making.
During both concluding ESER events, support for the continuation of the initiative was expressed. Participants also demanded an extension of the pilot beyond the EU borders.
There is a lack of opportunities and supportive measures for inter-regional collaboration in social economy. Similar social/societal challenges to be tackled in different EU regions need a common ground/platform for sharing best practices and lessons learnt. In this respect, our intention is to introduce so-called 'social economy missions' in 2019. These missions should create partnerships between social economy stakeholders from different EU regions and provide opportunities to discuss and share lessons learnt about the joint societal challenges.

The 2 concluding ESER events had a participatory format (fishbowl debate in Bilbao and PolicyLab session at the Joint Research Centre in Brussels). This gave regional stakeholders a unique opportunity to have their voice heard and contribute to the discussion on the future shaping of social economy policies.
The concluding events also serve as the foundation for building the ESER community.