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Shaping the future for social businesses

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The social economy is an important pillar of the European economy, representing some 10% of GDP. On 16 and 17 January 2014 a large European interactive event on social entrepreneurship and the social economy will take place.

European Commission Vice-President Antonio Tajani, Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship, said: "Social businesses help the EU create a highly competitive social market economy and are engines for sustainable growth. During the crisis they proved their worth by showing strong resilience. We now need them more than ever for their job creating ability."

More than 11 million workers or 4.5% of the active EU population are employed in the social economy. One in every four new businesses set up each year is a social business, rising to one in three in France, Finland and Belgium.

Social entrepreneurs aim to have an impact on society rather than only generating profits for owners and shareholders. For example, they provide jobs for disadvantaged groups, promoting their social inclusion and increasing solidarity in the economy. But they face enormous challenges and an uneven playing field.

That is why on 16 and 17 January 2014, the European Commission, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and the City of Strasbourg will host a large European interactive event on social entrepreneurship and the social economy. This two-day event will use a collaborative, participatory approach. The participants themselves will drive the issues to be debated and identify the way forward for the social entrepreneurship sector.

The objectives of the event are to:

  •  Take stock of the achievements and implementation of the Social Business Initiative of October 2011 (see IP/11/1238 and MEMO/11/735)
  • Identify future priorities for action
  • Engage stakeholders in an innovative and participative environment to shape the European agenda for the next 3-5 years
  • Strengthen stakeholder networks to support the emergence and scaling-up of initiatives and best practices
  • Create more ownership and awareness among institutional actors.


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