Up Group was one of the main partners of the first major conference on the Social and Solidarity Economy in Southeastern Europe, which was held in Ljubljana on 24 and 25 April. Under the aegis of the Prime Minister of Slovenia Dr. Miro Cerar, these two days gave 200 participants from 20 different countries the opportunity to confirm their resolve to give a new impetus to the SSE, by promoting an exchange of good practices and meetings between stakeholders.
Slovenia drives the SSE in Southeastern Europe
At the initiative of Mr. Taddej Slapnik, former Member of Parliament and presently Secretary of State in the Prime Minister’s office in charge of the SSE, Slovenia is the first country in the region to have passed a law on the SSE in 2012. This initial legislative framework enabled the industry to organize and to gain visibility and recognition. The SSE in Slovenia currently numbers over 260 companies. The Government, in consultation with the Slovenian social entrepreneurship forum, is working to improve the existing legislative environment.
The SSE, a priority for the countries in the region
Slovenia, Romania and Greece are the three countries which currently have a law on the SSE. In his address, the Serbian Minister of Labor, Mr. Aleksandar Vulin, stated that he wished to learn from the Slovenian example in designing his country’s legislation. Similarly, the Croatian Secretary of State for Labor, Mr. Marko Pavic, since his assumption of duty in October 2016, chairs a working group with exactly the same purpose. Senior officials from Bulgaria and Montenegro also participated in these exchanges.
On this occasion, the Minister of Labor and the Economy of Luxembourg, Mr. Schmidt, together with members of his cabinet and the Director of the Luxembourg Union for the Social and Solidarity Economy (ULESS), Mr. Jean-Christophe Burkel, showed the process by which, though co-construction, his country developed a regulatory framework and is working continually to improve the development and visibility of the SSE.
The SSE and its success story in the region
Several speakers highlighted the need for SSE businesses to operate with viable economic models. In order to foster the development of the SSE in the region and more broadly in Europe, the Institute, under the European Investment Bank, launched the Social Innovation Tournament in 2012. In this context, SSE companies from different countries in the region shared their experience and their vision of the SSE and what could be perfected. Here are three of them:
- « Designed by Pana » was created in 2013 in Tirana (Albania), specializing in interior design and furniture production. The company’s goal is to hire socially marginalized people for production from recycled wood with an environmentally friendly approach.
- « Recicleta » is a company established in Bucharest that manages recyclable waste collection in small quantities (150kg) by cyclists who are thereby able to re-enter the workforce. Since it was created in 2009, the company has collected over 350 tons of waste (mainly paper).
- In Serbia, in less than two years, the company « Radanska Ruza » has helped 15 women with disabilities to become professionally active. The company produces preserves and jams from local produce.
At the end of the conference, the participants adopted the Ljubljana declaration, which follows upon the Bratislava declaration adopted on December 1, 2016 under the Slovak EU presidency. Here it is translated into French by our partner « Pour la Solidarité »: Ljubljana declaration
Photo Credit : Veselin Penchev