Europe, as a community of shared values and a framework for collaboration, will only be able to endear itself to the majority of Europeans if it manages to carry a significant social dimension. A social dimension which visibly impacts the lives of Europeans in a positive way. Social entrepreneurship can help growing this social dimension.
Social inclusion: a real need in Europe
Social inclusion is a key aspect for Europe. It, therefore, is also a key policy goal. Indeed, many citizens are still not able to equally benefit of all the opportunities Europe has to offer. Women are still underprivileged in certain respects, young people and elderly people as well. Immigrants often have a hard time to be fully included in their new country. Minorities, such as the Roma or the LGBTI people and communities are also confronted to inequalities. The situation of people with disabilities is yet another illustration of inequalities and exclusion which have to be addressed.
Action plan: from ideas to projects
At the recent AER London plenary meeting, members discussed the actions they want to implement in the coming year. All three AER thematic committees held an individual session about the themes which should be addressed and the actions which would be relevant for members. In Committee 2 one of the prioritized themes was that of social inclusion. The discussion focused on the aspects of social inclusion to be put highest on the agenda but also which strategies would be most effective in promoting and stimulating social inclusion.
Regions attending the London meeting discussed who would be willing and able to lead joint projects and collaborative efforts of member regions in this broad field. The rule of the game being that no proposal could be made without specifically identifying for each action the regions which would be leading the implementation and those which would support it.
Social entrepreneurship, a tool for inclusion
In the discussion on social inclusion, considerable attention was being paid to social entrepreneurship as a method of practically strengthening social inclusion. It was widely recognized that involving the private sector and engaging individual employers are key to really making a difference when it comes to social inclusion and cohesion. Highly relevant is then how to engage entrepreneurs effectively. How to reach them, how to convince them, how to engage them, how to make them act effectively.
Exchanging good practices & developing a project
Participants in the discussion agreed that identifying and exchanging best practices would be very valuable and that the AER network provides an excellent and natural framework for such exchange.
Participants discussed the opportunity of getting co-financing from the European Union for good practice exchange in the context of an EU-funded interregional project. The region of Timis, for instance, presented a project idea focused on good practice sharing for social inclusion.
The province of Flevoland (NL) shared it would be willing to look into the possibility of playing a role in initiating a project around social entrepreneurship, based on the exchange of best practices. Regions also interested in participating in a project focusing on social entrepreneurship are kindly invited to let this know
Regions interested in participating in a project focusing on social entrepreneurship together with the Province of Flevoland are kindly invited to contact AER Coordinator for European Projects and Private Partnerships Agnese Pantaloni or Rutger Schuitemaker at the Province of Flevoland