19 EU states back Toledo Declaration promoting social and solidarity economy

The text was adopted last month at a summit organised by the Spanish Ministry of Labour and Social Economy in Toledo

Nineteen EU member states have committed to promoting the social and solidarity economy through, during a summit organised by the Spanish Ministry of Labour and Social Economy.

The European confederation of industrial and service co-operatives (Cecop) welcomed the Toledo Declaration, as did Social Economy Europe.

The Toledo Declaration urges all EU member states, as well as European and international institutions and organisations, to raise awareness of the social and solidarity economy (SSE); to support ecosystems favourable to it; and to ensure the necessary financial support is in place to make it viable and sustainable.

It also includes recognition of the role of the SSE in the post-Covid-19 recovery, and contribute to its international expansion.

The Toledo Declaration is part of a series of political declarations adopted by EU member states in support of the SSE, which started with the Luxembourg Declaration in 2015. That was followed by the Bratislava Declaration (2016), the Ljubljana Declaration (2017), the Madrid Declaration (2017) and the Paris “Pact for Impact” Manifesto (2019).

Adopted by representatives of governments of France, Italy, Luxembourg, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain, the Luxembourg Declaration recognised the SSE as a fundamental driver of the European and international political agenda.

A Monitoring Committee of the Luxembourg Declaration was established in 2016 to guarantee that the agreements reached are adhered to and developed. The committee includes representatives from 14 EU member states. It was chaired by Spain in 2020, with Portugal due to take over this year.

The Summit took place in Toledo, to mark the city’s 2020 European Social Economy Capital status.

Spain’s minister of labour and social economy, Yolanda Díaz, told the summit: “What we want now is for this potential for cohesion and solidarity to play a decisive role in rebuilding Europe. And for this we are here today, to weave alliances, share ideas and recognise ourselves in this collective task, which has also been the objective of the Spanish presidency of the Monitoring Committee of the Luxembourg Declaration.

“Ultimately, placing people and decent work at the heart of reconstruction also means betting on the social economy. Because we are institutions with a soul, we work to solve people’s problems and collaborate in the realisation of their aspirations and life projects.”

The president of the Spanish Business Confederation of the Social Economy (CEPES) and of Social Economy Europe, Juan Antonio Pedreño, said: “The Toledo Declaration on Social Economy as a key driver for an inclusive future shows a wide support from 19 European member states to all social economy business models – co-operatives, mutuals, associations, foundations, social enterprises and other forms – as a driver of economic and social progress, as a way to channel collective action to generate common solutions to common challenges and create new opportunities.

“Furthermore, the Toledo Summit, in which I had the honour to participate, showed the strong support to the social economy from the European Commission, represented by commissioner Nicolas Schmit; the OECD, represented by its secretary general Angel Gurría and the ILO, represented by its director general, Guy Rider.

“This is the moment of the social economy, the moment to grow beyond our current boundaries, to expand all over the EU and the world, as a driver of sustainable development. A strong message for 2021, the year in which we have to build an effective European Action Plan for the Social Economy.”

The mayor of Toledo Milagros Tolón also said: “Opening new horizons to the Social Economy is a commitment to the future, the values that this model entails are fundamental to reflect on what we want to build for the future. A future that is inseparable from the collective responses we give to the challenges set in the Agenda 2030 on Sustainable Development.”

Nicolas Schmidt said the European Commission is committed to promoting the SSE and achieving a fair, digital and green economic transition. Mr Schmidt is currently working on developing a EU Action Plan on the Social Economy, which will be presented in the coming months.

The signatories of Toledo Declaration are Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, Ireland, Luxembourg, Greece, Denmark, Belgium, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Latvia, Bulgaria, Austria, Romania, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia and Malta.

The social and solidarity economy includes more than 2.8 million companies and entities, which provide 13.6 million paid jobs, and boast over 232 million members, generating 8% of the EU’s GDP.