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Time to unleash the social economy for inclusion & jobs

EASPD commits to supporting the growth of the Social Economy and inclusive societies at Annual Conference in Varna

Today in Varna, Bulgaria, the European Association of Service providers for Persons with Disabilities (EASPD) opened its Annual Conference: ‘Social Economy as an Effective Model for Social Inclusion', with a call for all stakeholders to join it in its commitment to support Europe’s growing Social Economy and ensure the inclusion and the participation of all in society.
Co-hosted alongside the National Alliance for Social Responsibility (NASO), and part of the official programme of the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, the conference has brought together social services, public authorities and key stakeholders from civil society. Together the conference participants will discuss how the social economy can contribute to a more inclusive and sustainable society.
Formed of a wide variety of enterprises and organisations, Europe’s growing social economy is proving that our economies can increase social inclusion and reduce inequalities, while simultaneously fostering economic growth. European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen opened the conference with a speech in which she spoke of the importance of the social economy in implementing the European Pillar of Social Rights and highlighted that the  future European Social Fund+ and InvestEU will provide investment opportunities for the social sector, including social economy enterprises.
While welcoming the conference’s 350 participants, EASPD President, James Crowe, emphasised the social economy as a powerful tool, “that can contribute to the creation of more supportive communities, which can empower those with support needs, especially people with disabilities, creating meaningful jobs and promoting inclusive working conditions.”
Georgi Georgiev, President of NASO added to the remarks of Mr Crowe stating that “the social economy is a new horizon for social services development, promoting genuine social inclusion as well as increasing human potential and the opportunities for participation.” Mr Georgiev acknowledged the importance of the social economy, in supporting inclusive labour markets, emphasising that: “social inclusion, through employment is the key to a level playing field and a better life for all.”
With 2 million social economy enterprises currently operating across Europe, representing 10% of all businesses, EASPD’s annual conference will provide the opportunity to build on an already flourishing social economy. Over the next 2 days conference participants will have the opportunity to share best practices, explore national frameworks and discuss how we can together contribute to the social economy and support the creation of more inclusive societies.
Speaking on the role of social services and the need to support the social economy EASPD Secretary General, Luk Zelderloo, said: “social and support service providers form a vital component of the social economy. Together we can be the drivers of innovation in the social economy.” Mr Zelderloo continued that “for EASPD this conference is just the start and the discussions we hold here in Varna will provide the foundation of our declaration, to support the growth of the Social Economy and the inclusion of all across Europe. We hope that those who have joined us here in Varna and other’s will join us in this commitment, to empower people with disabilities to enjoy their rights, find meaningful employment on the open labour market  and participate fully in the community.”
To keep up-to-date with the latest news of the conference follow us on Facebook and Twitter or use the #EUSocialEconomy.