Conference debates social economy in SE Europe

Prime Minister Miro Cerar speaks at the opening of a regional conference on the development of social enterprises in SE Europe. Photo: Nebojša Tejić/STA

More than 260 participants from South East Europe convened at Brdo estate on Monday for a two-day conference discussing development of social entrepreneurship in the region. In his opening address, Prime Minister Miro Cerar said social economy in Slovenia was "increasingly powerful economic sector".

Cerar said that at the outset of its term, his government prioritised social economy as one of the most important fields of economic development. "I'm very happy that the number of social companies during this time has increased by 300 percent."

He spoke of the role of social entrepreneurship in creating first jobs for young people as well as in preserving and developing social inclusion of older generations.

Cerar raised the importance of the Luxembourg declaration which urges for the EU to contribute to creating an ecosystem conducive to development of social economy. He believes Slovenia can serve as a bridge between enterprises and governments.

Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek offered some figures at the European level, where he said more than two million social enterprises created more than 14 million jobs and 7% of GDP.

He also said that social entrepreneurship in Slovenia "does not represent the backbone of our economy" but that this did not mean it should be neglected.

MEP Ivo Vajgl (DeSUS/ALDE) cited a study finding that only six EU member states have social entrepreneurship regulated in their legislation, while seven have its status partly regulated.

Photo: Nebojša Tejić/STA

According to State Secretary Tadej Slapnik from the prime minister's office, the countries having such legislation are Slovenia, Italy, Spain, France, Luxembourg and Greece.

Slapnik said the regional conference aimed to link the players at the level of states, social enterprises, support environment, as well as to draw up a proposal as part of the Adriatic-Ionian micro-region for a project to develop social enterprises concerned with the migration crisis.

Organised by Slovenia, the European Commission and partner countries and organisations, the conference is also seeking to form a mid-term plan to stimulate development of social economy in SE Europe.

The findings and conclusions will be summed up in a declaration adopted at the end of the event.

Source: STA