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AEIDL’s Participation in Social Economy Conference Amplifies Belgian EU Council Presidency Focus

Feb 27, 2024 | News

Last week, AEIDL was invited to participate in the social economy conference organised in Liège, in the context of the Belgian Presidency of the EU Council. 

Valentina Caimi, AEIDL’s Senior Expert and Project Manager, contributed to the round table on: “Integration of the social economy: a political strategy for the future“, in dialogue with:

  • Brigitte Fellahi-Brognaux, Head of Unit, “Inclusive and Social Entrepreneurship”, Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, European Commission
  • Raffaella Scalisi, Senior Adviser of Torino Social Impact (Italy)
  • Maud Caruhel, Vice President, Nouvelle-Aquitaine Region in charge of Social and Solidarity Economy, Social Innovation, Circular Economy and Waste Prevention/Management (France).

Valentina presented the main objectives, activities, and audiences of the service contract on socially responsible public procurement (SRPP), which AEIDL is implementing, on behalf of the European Commission, in partnership with REVES, Iclei Europe and Diesis Network

She also highlighted the pre-conditions and factors that enable a successful participation of social economy enterprises in public procurement. First of all, legal frameworks favorable to the social economy are an essential pre-condition, as without them some provisions of the public procurement Directive, such as those that allow restricting the competition to social economy entities (the so-called reservations or reserved-contracts), risk remaining inapplicable.

Policy frameworks, such as strategies and action plans that set objectives for SRPP and better access to public procurement by social economy entities, are also very important. They set the strategic direction, including specific targets to be achieved and tools by which to achieve them. Enhancing the technical capacity of both public buyers and social economy entities is also essential.

On the public administration side, this includes the capacity to design tenders that are accessible to social economy entities, not only by using tools such as reservations division into lots, but also by defining selection criteria that do not hinder the participation of smaller economic operators or that value the specific expertise of social economy actors – for example, in terms of previous experience. Dialogue with the market, including with social economy enterprises, and consultation with experts, allow public buyers to design tenders that are more in line with what they want to buy and that are more likely to attract more diverse economic operators. By contrast, social economy entities, in addition to reinforce their capacity and skills to participate in tendering, should also better equip themselves to join forces with other economic actors, being conventional business or other social economy enterprises. 

The conference also yielded a comprehensive roadmap ‘The Liege Roadmap’ with 21 member states signing on, including 25 recommendations and commitments presented to the Council and the Commission. Some key highlights include:

  • Dedicated Commissioner and strategic focus: The call for a dedicated Commissioner, central inclusion in the next Commission’s work programme and strategic oversight of the Action Plan and Council Recommendation.
  • Equal access to funding: Advocating equal access to all European funding instruments and funds for social economy initiatives.
  • Adaptation of the state aid regime: General adaptation of the state aid regime by including a specific exemption for social economy actors.

You can find out more about the Socially Responsible Public Procurement Project, here