The role of social economy in building Europe was the main focus of the XXI General Assembly of Cepes. The event, which took place on June 20th in Madrid, was attended by high-level representatives such as Benoît Hamon, French Minister of Social and Solidarity Economy and Engracia Hidalgo, Spanish secretary of state for Employment. Benoît Hamon affirmed that ‘in recent years, an increasing need for social services has emerged. In order to meet these needs, it is necessary to set up a strategy for an economy, which can provide the right solutions, i.e. the social economy actors, such as cooperatives. The French government plans to support a growth strategy for the social economy via a specific law in 2013 flanked with targeted funding by the French public investment bank’. Klaus Niederländer, Director of Cooperatives Europe, said that ‘one of the most important characteristics of cooperatives as the major actor of social economy is their capacity for creating collaboration networks among people and cooperatives. Spain has proven to provide good collaboration networks resulting in great human systems, such as the Mondragon approach. To rebuild Europe’s economy, this networking capacity needs enhancing. For this reason we need a regulatory framework in Europe that does not aim to exercise control over the social economy, but intends to support the creation and development of collaboration networks among all kind of business actors, ensuring a business friendly environment for cooperatives and all social economy actors.
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