Social and solidarity economy in the Mediterranean: the necessary shift from ideas to action

Published : Friday 06 November 2015
Amal CHEVREAU, Directrice des études et des projets
The new global and regional context - characterised by crises in the North and economic and political transitions in the South - reminds us that it is urgent to create employment, especially for youngsters and women. This assessment is taking force and implies two requirements: (I) making growth more inclusive so that it benefits the greatest number of people, (II) ensuring that the creation of economic added value respects the principles of sustainability and solidarity. Social and solidarity economy could help fulfil these requirements provided that a financial, legal and institutional framework is implemented to enable the emergence and development of the sector. According to ESMED network, social and solidarity economy in the Mediterranean includes 500,000 companies and employs nearly 7,000,000 people. These figures show that the sector is gaining ground even though differences remain according to the region’s countries.

Birth of SSE in the Mediterranean

The Euro-Mediterranean Conference of the SSE (MedESS) was held in Tunis (Tunisia) for the first time in May 2013. It gathered major representatives of the sector and lay the foundations of a Euro-Mediterranean ecosystem in favour of social and solidarity companies. Following this first event, the MedESS association, open to all public and private SSE actors in the region, was created to gather all actions and efforts in favour of a trans-Mediterranean SSE sector.

Clear legal frameworks to boost SSE in the Mediterranean

SSE enables the civil society to take part in the creation of a sustainable and solidarity-based development model. This sector advocates another way to approach the economy by putting people and the satisfaction of their socio-economic needs at the centre of the agenda. Rather than an alternative, SSE appears as the third component of the market economy and the public sector. But then, how to develop SSE sector in the Mediterranean? On its report on the sector’s situation in Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia, IPEMED recommended to work on the standardisation of legal frameworks. Several countries in the region adopted SSE global regulations to increase and favour the sector’s visibility and give social structures and cooperatives the appropriate means to act. In the South of the Mediterranean, only Morocco is planning on adopting a law to boost this sector, which deserves to be more structured and supported to enable the shift from regulation SSE to finality SSE.

European and Euro-Mediterranean countries having adopted a SSE outline law :

Country SSE law Date
 Belgium - Wallonie x  20/11/2008
 Belgium - Brussels x  26/04/2012
 Belgium - Flandres x  2013
 Spain x  30/03
 France x 2011
 Greece x  31/07/2014
 Portugal x  08/05/2013
 Roumania    30/06/2015
 Luxembourg    Law in the course of adoption
 Moroccoo   Law in preparation
 Source : the author

Even though each country must adopt specific legal frameworks, it must be done in the context of the Euromed partnership in order to share common references, especially about the status of social and solidarity economy. It is about enabling the creation of trans-Mediterranean social and solidarity companies in the context of co-development and co-investments.

Dedicated financial resources to ensure the autonomy of SSE structures

The sustainability of the sector relies on stable and recurring funding sources. Therefore, it is necessary to answer the financial needs of actors and operators of the sector, by shifting, for example, from microcredit to solidarity micro-finance, by encouraging the creation of micro-insurance institutions and ethic or cooperative banks, as advocated by the FEMISE. In short, it is about promoting the hybridization of resources from tradable and non-tradable sectors to bring sustainable solutions to SSE funding issues.
Share this article
Print Send by e-mail