A pan-European association of law enterprises was launched in Madrid in December. The European Social Enterprise Law Association (ESELA) brings together law firms, legal experts and academics specialising in all aspects of the law as it applies to social enterprises, including co-operatives.
ESELA will work to promote a better understanding of the relationship between law and social enterprise, with a view to supporting the development and growth of the sector across Europe.
“ESELA is very much interested in co-operatives as part of the social economy and I am sure that most of our specialist law firms will have a number of co-operatives as clients and will be advising on co-operative law,” said Luke Fletcher, chair.
“I would hope that ESELA would help strengthen the links and relationships between co-operatives and other parts of the social economy, including new and emerging models of social enterprise,” said Mr Fletcher, who explained how the launch of ESELA was an opportunity for anyone interested to learn more about the relationship between law and social enterprise.
The association will also work with governments and policymakers to design sound legal systems that support the growth of social enterprises, he said.
The launch took place on 2 December at the European Venture Philanthropy Association’s annual conference in Madrid. The event featured 14 specialist law firm members from jurisdictions across Europe, including firms in the Czech Republic, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Denmark, Finland and Northern Ireland.
ESELA was created as a result of a European Commission-sponsored study into the state of social enterprise across Europe – the Strasbourg Declaration on social enterprises.
Jonathan Bland, managing director of Social Business International and one of the authors of the Strasbourg Declaration on social enterprise, said: “An exciting result of this ground-breaking research is that it has led to ESELA’s creation. This new association has the potential to be an important source of knowledge and expertise that can share good practice, help member states learn from each other and make recommendations about the effect of EU-wide laws and policies on social enterprises.”
Members of the ESELA network have also worked together to co-author the report Social Enterprise in Europe.
Mr Fletcher added: “I imagine that convergence and consolidation in the legal and regulatory environment for co-operatives and other forms of social enterprises is likely to be a feature of future legal and policy development in the UK and across Europe.
“We welcome specialists in co-operative law to join the association, share knowledge and to contribute to the development of our work.”
ESELA’s board is currently comprised of Anne Contreras, Roberto Randazzo, Alissa Pelatan, Marleen Denef, Andrea Schoeneberg and Luke Fletcher, all of whom are social enterprise legal experts, from Luxembourg, Italy, France, Belgium, Germany and the UK respectively.
In this article
- Alissa Pelatan
- Anne Contreras
- Community interest company
- European Commission
- European Union
- Luke Fletcher
- Roberto Randazzo
- Rochdale Principles
- Social Business International
- Social economy
- Social enterprise
- The Co-operative Group
- Types of business entity
- Wells Braithwaite