More than 200 people participated in the European Forum on Social and Solidarity Economy, “Transforming the economic and cultural paradigms”, held on 28 January in the European Parliament.
The Forum, which was organised by the European United Left - Nordic Green Left group (GUE/NGL), addressed the main challenges currently being faced by Europe including social exclusion, the future of common goods and ecological challenges. According to GUE/NGL MEPs, the social and solidarity economy should be “at the heart of the new European project”. They have also called for 2018 to be the year the social and solidarity economy. CECOP welcomes GUE/NGL’s commitment and hopes to see follow up measures and initiatives based on the forum’s conclusions.
Thematic workshops on issues such as democratic control of social and solidarity economy enterprises and tools for its development (communication, education, success measurement) were held during the forum. The question of the privatisation of common goods and services of general interest was also raised in different workshops. The co-operative experience, which involves gathering together a variety of different stakeholders such as the beneficiaries and producers as well as other actors (water and energy co-operatives, forestry management, etc.), was analysed as a solution to safeguard ownership and democratic control within the community. Another central theme addressed during the forum was the current refugee crisis in Europe and its impact on the transformation of societies.
Representatives from worker and social co-operatives spoke on many occasions during the forum. Bruno Roelants, Secretary General of CECOP, was invited to address the issue of workers’ ownership in worker co-operatives. Paloma Arroyo, Director of COCETA (Spanish Federation of workers co-operatives) presented the contribution made by Spanish social co-operatives to the social inclusion of the most vulnerable citizens. Representatives from worker and social cooperatives such as the French social co-operative Okhra, the Spanish worker co-operative AGRESTA and the worker co-operative magazine Alternativas Economicas from Spain, also took part in the debate. Participants were given the opportunity to discover the stories of several young co-operators, which were showcased in the video “Working together for a cooperative future” that CECOP has produced in collaboration with CICOPA and CICOPA Mercosur.
Photo: GUE NGL hearing