In Recent News, What's New on Policy & Advocacy

A recap of last week’s activities for Euclid Network’s (EN’s) Brussels based Policy Lead, Toby Gazeley.

Brussels may hold a special place in the heart of passionate Europhiles but it’s no secret that for many it’s not their favourite city. It’s fair to say that most of the time Brussels works against those who advocate for its charm and character by buffeting visitors with wind, soaking them through to their skin and leaving them stranded in a suburb looking for a bus in a dug-up street that will never arrive. This week however there was so much going on in Brussels, not even its most vociferous critics had time to voice their judgement.

Monday morning: Rebalancing Europe

The beginning of the working week often rolls around with a warm cup of coffee but the only thing better than sipping a steaming cup of joe at your desk is to try to avoid spilling it all over yourself at an early morning event. ‘Rebalancing Europe: A new economic agenda for tackling monopoly power’ was an event organised by a group of organisations outside the social economy – the Open Markets Institute (OMI), the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO), Balanced Economy Project, ARTICLE 19, Forum on Environment & Development and LobbyControl – yet discussing many similar challenges.  

Delving into competition policy and the efforts to tackle corporate and monopoly power, some of the key takeaways included: 

  • It’s not merely about regulations; it’s about sustainability, innovation, and safeguarding SMEs from unfair competition.
  • Big challenges and big companies wield significant influence in the market. Social enterprises represent the future of business, yet even those keen on fostering innovation and sustainability often overlook or misunderstand them. Their visibility and understanding remain crucially lacking.
  • While the EU takes action, the external dimension and the potential positive impact of Europe’s transformation outside of Europe on other developing nations and the environment are currently not receiving adequate consideration.

Monday afternoon: The launch of the OECD’s guide to social impact measurement

Impact measurement and management is one of the ‘hot topics’ for the social economy and social enterprises. More and more emphasis is being placed on the need to understand, track and showcase the impact made on social and environmental targets. Have no fear, the OECD is here! Working together with the European Commission, the OECD has launched a ‘Policy Guide on Social Impact Measurement for the Social and Solidarity Economy’. This presents the research done by the OECD on existing frameworks and their previous study in 2021.

Read the full report here.

Tuesday morning: Launching the Investing for Impact Manifesto

Brussels is known (or definitely should be known) for its beautiful architecture. While this may be the case, the European Parliament is unfortunately not one of these architectural landmarks. Between subsidence issues and dodgy plumbing, it’s a noteworthy achievement that it’s still standing. One thing is for certain, the Parliament looks a lot better from the MEP’s lounge over a plate of croissants, fruit and (yes, another) cup of coffee.

On Tuesday morning, Monica Semedo MEP from Renew Europe hosted Impact Europe in the European Parliament to launch the Investing for Impact manifesto over breakfast. Together with representatives from the social finance ecosystem, social enterprises and the European Commission, the key demands of the manifesto were outlined: 

  1. Put impact at the centre of EU policy making
  2. Make all EU funding impact funding
  3. Deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030

With very little time left until the European Elections on the 6-9th June 2024, there’s no time like the present to find out more about what the impact economy needs to see come in the next legislative period. Euclid Network is particularly pleased to see the clear complementarity between the Investing for Impact Manifesto, representing the voice of impact investors, and the Business for a Better Tomorrow Manifesto, representing the voice of social enterprises and impact driven businesses.

Tuesday later morning: The final meeting of the European Parliament Intergroup 2019-24

What’s better than a morning meeting in the European Parliament? Nothing! So luckily the last European Parliament Intergroup on Social Economy had their last meeting of the 2019-24 mandate immediately after the launch of Impact Europe’s manifesto. 

Over the past five years, the Intergroup has been an integral part of the European developments on social economy. With eyes now turning towards the future, there’s a clear ambition and desire from across Europe and the social economy to see the Intergroup return in the next legislative period. 

This last meeting also provided the opportunity for the second manifesto (or memorandum) launch of the day, this time from Social Economy Europe. The three key priorities outlined here are: 

  1. The renewal of the European Parliament’s Social Economy Intergroup 
  2. The appointment of a European Commissioner responsible for Social Economy
  3. The continuation and further development the implementation of the Social Economy Action Plan

Read the full memorandum here. 

Tuesday even later morning: The first meeting of the working group drafting a code of conduct for data sharing and management in and for the social economy 

To finish Tuesday off came a third meeting: the first meeting of the working group drafting a code of conduct for data sharing and management in and for the social economy. This group builds on the work of the Transition Pathway, published in November 2022 by the European Commission. This document focussed on the twin green and digital transition, identifying challenges and opportunities presented to the social economy by these major transformations. 14 action areas were identified to help make a success of this transition for the industrial ecosystem of the proximity and social economy. Two actions related to the digital transition relate to the use and sharing of data. 

Social economy organisations often collect large amounts of data however this data is often not shared, stored in interoperable formats or able to be used to its full potential. The social economy has an implicit and explicit ethical dimension which adds an extra consideration in the use and sharing of data. This group therefore brings together a group of experts from a range of perspectives from across Europe to work collectively towards a code of conduct or code of ethics to enable data sharing and management in the social economy.

Read more about transition pathway here.

Thursday afternoon: The launch of RREUSE’s report on Socially Responsible Public Procurement

The last event of the week may have been held in a windowless conference room but that didn’t stop it having a very broad and far-reaching outlook. This was the launch of RREUSE’s on Advancing Climate, Environmental and Social Goals Through Public Procurement.

Socially Responsible Public Procurement (SRPP) is a topic of great importance having significant potential. Across the EU, public procurement accounts for around 14% of GDP. Adding more social clauses, reserved contracts and criteria to enable social and sustainable procurement represents a huge opportunity for social enterprises. The inclusion of these measures is not enough alone but work is needed across levels of governance with procurement officials, contractors and legal teams to turn potential on paper into impact in reality.

Three representatives from Paris shared their experiences working on the delivery of the 2024 Paris Olympic and Paralympic Games. While some of the negative and controversial elements of the Games’ delivery have been featured in international press, the ambition and commitment to sustainability and inclusion has not received the same attention. Representatives from the European Climate Foundation, OECD, DG GROW and DG ENV also shared their perspectives on this key topic.

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