Experiences, challenges and opportunities of Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE) in the Mediterranean: Final Seminar of the SSE project

The conference entitled “Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE): Innovative Solutions to Development Problems in Mediterranean countries?” was held in Toulouges (France) on December 13. This event was the final seminar of the “Study on Social and Solidarity Economy in the Latin Arc”. Led by the Pyrénées-Orientales Department, the SSE project partnership is comprised of members from all three Latin Arc states – such as France’s CRESS Corsica, Haute Corse and Hérault Departments, Spain’s Tarragona, Granada and Lleida Provincial Councils as well as Italy’s Mantova and Viterbo Provinces. The partnership has been working on the project for two years.

Despite its advantages, the Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE) has not managed to develop its full potential in the Latin Arc states at the social and political level yet. With this project, partners have joined forces so as to properly understand and compare the features of SSE in their respective territories. Formed in 2014, the project partnership has concentrated its efforts on the drafting of a comparative study across the three states (Italy, France and Spain) for the identification of common features and problems of SSE in the Mediterranean context. The study included technical field visits and the sharing of best practices. The SSE study and project constitute the first step in the drafting of a political action plan with the aim of raising awareness on SSE among EU decision-makers.

In the final seminar, the project partnership presented the results of the comparative study on Social and Solidarity Economy in the Latin Arc. The event also served as a good opportunity to explore the current role of social economy and innovation through the participation of several actors from France, Italy and Spain who presented the best practices from their respective regions.

Despite its potential benefits, the Social and Solidarity Economy barely makes up 10% of the region’s total GDP thus failing to convince decision-makers of its relevance. In the closing session, Jean Louis Chambon – Departmental Counsellor and President of the Social Economy Commission – deemed it necessary to confer greater legitimacy to SSE through increased efforts.

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