France’s Emmanuel Macron pledges support for co-ops and the social economy

The incoming president says he wants to support innovation in the sector and relaunch the social agenda across the EU

French president-elect Emmanuel Macron has committed to growing the social and solidarity economy. Mr Macron, who at 39 is set to become the youngest president in France’s history, took 66% of the votes in Sunday’s election, defeating far right candidate Marine Le Pen from the Front National.

In the run-up to the election Mr Macron, an independent centrist, published a letter in which he pledges support for the social and solidarity economy, including co-operatives.

The open letter, published on 20 April, highlights the social, demographic, technologic, environmental and democratic challenges facing France. The country’s 165,000 social and solidarity economy enterprises help to address these challenges, argues Mr Macron, a former investment banker. He pledged to support and help grow the sector and enable more co-operatives to emerge.

France is home to 21,000 co-operatives, with one million workers and a turnover of €300m. The social and solidarity economy contributes 10% of the country’s GDP, employing 2.45 million. According to Mr Macron, over the last ten years the sector has grown the number of employees by 24%, as opposed to only 7% within the private sector.

Mr Macron promises a series of measures to help the sector, including a National Social Innovation Accelerator, an organisation to support innovation projects. He also wants a public policy to promote and support social innovation.

The president elect says he will also call for a relaunch of a European agenda to promote the social and solidarity economy across the EU.

A former economy minister, Emmanuel Macron quit François Hollande’s government last year to launch his bid for presidency. He set up his own political movement, En Marche! (On Our Way) and ran without the backing of one of the main parties. While minister of the economy, he attended the annual congress of the agricultural and retail co-ops, which he praised as institutions that have “a soul”.

Mr Macron is also the architect of a law named after him, which was passed by government decree in 2015 to cut red tape. The legislation extended the number of Sundays and evening hours that retailers can open. He takes over on Sunday from his former mentor, outgoing Socialist president François Hollande.

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