COMECE welcomes EU plan to support the social economy

The Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE) releases its contribution to the EU Consultation on defining the framework conditions of the social economy. The Bishops’ document presents a series of proposals based on the Catholic Social Teaching to realize the full potential of the social economy, which it says, offers a positive alternative to the profit-led market economy creating "relational wealth" and social friendship.

By Vatican News staff reporter

The market “should be conceived not only as an exchange based on the calculation of individual gains to be obtained”, but also a place “that makes room for gratuity, for relations of 'alliance' and not only of 'contract'”, and in which solidarity is considered “as a society project, that of social friendship, and not just as help to the most vulnerable people”.

This affirmation is at the heart the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Union’s (COMECE) contribution to the European Commission’s Consultation on defining the framework conditions of the Social Economy.

Developing the full potential of the social economy

The document, prepared by an ad-hoc Working group of experts presided by Bishop Antoine Hérouard, President of the COMECE Social Affairs Commission, was released on Monday, following the adoption of the EC’s  Social Economy Action Plan in December 2021.

8% of the EU’s GDP

Social economy is made up of a diversity of enterprises and organisations like cooperatives, mutual societies, associations, foundations, ethical banks and social enterprises that share values and features, including that of prioritizing people over profits and reinvesting most of their profits.  Overall, it employs 13.6 million people and accounts for 8% of the EU’s GDP.

The Commission’s Action Plan is aimed at developing the full potential of the social economy in all EU Member States by better adapting their national policies and legal frameworks to the specific local needs and actors.

The principles of the Catholic Social Teaching

COMECE has welcomed the Plan which, it says, “resonates very much with the work of Christian organisations and faithful, who support its implementation”.

The tools suggested by the Bishops Commission to realize the full potential of the social economy are the principles of the Catholic Social Teaching, including the common good, the universal destination of goods, the dignity of the human person and social justice, subsidiarity and the preferential option for the poor.

COMECE’s recommendations

In light of these principles, COMECE  recommends the European institutions and Member States to encourage “a paradigm shift towards an economy that creates ‘relational wealth’ and social friendship: through the creation of jobs with fair wages; a fair ecological and digital transition, and the promotion of a circular economy; through the better inclusion of women, people with disabilities, those facing  socio-economic discriminations, ethnic minorities, migrants and refugees and all people in vulnerable situations".

COMECE also suggests to clearly define the criteria for belonging to the social economy, to improve access to EU funds, public financing and private investments, to promote a fiscal framework for the social economy that creates jobs and sustainable growth and combats unfair competition and “social washing”, and to encourage the integration of the social economy into the industrial strategies of each EU Member State.

The document was submitted to the relevant European Commission’s consultation on 30 September.


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29 November 2022, 18:16