Civil Society Days 2021


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The 2021 edition of the Civil Society Days sparked a debate on the essential components of a Sustainable Recovery for the Future of Europe’s citizens. This fully virtual edition was made up of 8 interactive workshops as well as a  closing session presenting the  main outcomes. Cooperatives Europe, together with Social Economy Europe, hosted a workshop on the 2nd of March titled “Social Economy and youth entrepreneurship for a sustainable recovery”.

Missed the workshop? Watch it again here. 

The workshop saw opening remarks from the President of our sectorial member, CECOP, Giuseppe Guerini and Ann Branch, Head of the Job Creation unit at DG EMPL, European Commission, who both highlighted the importance of cooperative and social economy enterprises in providing jobs to the people, particularly during the pandemic. Social Economy actors have always displayed a certain resilience in crisis (despite also being impacted) – yet as people-centred businesses they employ their values and solidarity to overcome global challenges, making them key partners for a sustainable recovery.

The round table gathered experiences from young entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs from the cooperative and the social economy sector. They highlighted the benefits they experience from being active in the social economy sector; in terms of values, as well as professional achievements like starting up their own businesses. Cooperatives and Social Economy business models are closely aligned to the values of the new generation, as profit is no longer seen as the highest motivation. Those young entrepreneurs were also able to exchange with MEP Brando Benifei (S&D, IT) on EU initiatives aimed at supporting youth entrepreneurship in the social economy and generate learning through exchanging good practices.

From this fruitful exchange, the last panel, composed of Alicia Homs MEP (S&D, ES), Member of the Social Economy Intergroup, Juan Antonio Pedreño, President of Social Economy Europe, Jean-Louis Bancel, President of Cooperatives Europe and Ulla Engelmann, Head of the Social Economy unit at DG Grow, European Commission, provided political closing remarks outlining the following outcomes:

  • Necessity to further develop awareness raising and visibility on social economy business models through education, curricula and through established businesses and social economy or cooperative federations to young people;
  • Social economy plays a key role and should have a horizontal presence in the European Union socio-economic policies;
  • The EU Recovery plan and the NextGenerationEU Instrument need to provide funding opportunities to Member States in order for them to invest properly in the social economy sector.

Finally, Advocacy Officer Lisa Mashini took the floor at the closing session of Civil Society Days to present the outcomes of the workshop and stress the impact of cooperatives and Social Economy enterprises not only in the immediate term for the young generation, but as a stepping stone to tackle inequalities as well as climate change in the long perspective, for the generations to come.

Speakers included:

Jean-Louis Bancel, President of Cooperatives Europe,  Giuseppe Guerini, spokesperson of the EESC Social Economy Category and President of CECOP-CICOPA Europe, Ann Branch, Head of the Job Creation unit at DG EMPL, European Commission, Nicolás Dimarco, Argentinian Federation of Cooperatives in the tech sector (FATTIC), Petro Darmoris, Chief Operating Officer at the Ukrainian Social Academy, Ana Aguirre, Co-founder and worker owner of TAZEBAEZ cooperative, Thibault Sauvageon, National Delegate of L’ESPER (social economy partner of French schools): Social economy week in schools, Alicia Homs MEP (S&D, ES), Member of the Social Economy Intergroup, Juan Antonio Pedreño, President of Social Economy Europe, Ulla Engelmann, Head of the Social Economy unit at DG Grow, European Commission.


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