EESC in Bulgaria

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EESC in Bulgaria

Ariane Rodert: Bulgaria is one of the few countries that have a conception and an action plan for development of the social economy

In the EU around 14 million people are employed in social enterprises Students from the University of National and World Economy (UNWE) and the St. Cyril and St. Methodius University of Veliko Turnovo, representatives of ministries and NGOs met today at the UNWE and debated on the theme “Opportunities for development of social entrepreneurship in 2014 -2020 - Creating employment for young people” together with guest lecturer and Vice-President of Group III at the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) Ariane Rodert. Mrs Rodert was in Bulgaria at the invitation of the Bulgarian Economic and Social Council (ESC) and this is not her first time in Bulgaria. In the framework of the intensive and fruitful cooperation between EESC and the Bulgarian ESC she was involved in several initiatives held in Bulgaria. This forum addressed to the students is part of the series of meetings and discussions initiated by the Bulgarian ESC and organised inside the country which are devoted on the role of the social entrepreneurship and social economy.

Organisers of the forum are the Economic and Social Council of Bulgaria and the University of National and World Economy, supported by the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy. In the forum also took part the Prof. Lalko Dulevski who is ESC President and Member of Group III of EESC and the Rector of the UNWE Prof. Statty Stattev. Clarifications for policies and employment opportunities in social enterprises were presented to the students by representatives of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy and the Ministry of Economy.

Action plan

Bulgaria is one of the few European countries which has developed conception and action plan for the development of social enterprise and social entrepreneurship, stated Ariane Rodert. She determined the social economy as an important priority for the EU and outlined the steps needed at national and pan-European level: political will and legislative definition of social economy and enterprises and also making a clear distinction between ordinary business and social entrepreneurship, which is not based on a purely commercial basis; accesses to finance for social enterprises; study of practices and analyses; not least – recognition of the social entrepreneurs for the benefits to society. Achieving sustainability and creating networks of social enterprises are challenges for Bulgaria as well as for the EU, said also Mrs. Rodert. During the discussion it became clear that 14 million people in the European Union work in social enterprises. Ariane Rodert highlighted the emphasis in the EESC’s work on the development of the social entrepreneurship.

The European Commission has declared the social economy as a priority and allocated special funds for its development in the next period up to 2019. The question before us is if we would be able to realize the importance of the social economy and social entrepreneurship as well as how we should organise ourselves well enough to be able to gain accesses to the funds and make them work in the interest of the society. This was statement by Prof. Lalko Dulevski, President of the Economic and Social Council of Bulgaria during the opening of the discussion at the University of National and World Economy. The social economy is aimed at solving the problems of people where the state or the market could not resolve them, explained Prof. Lalko Dulevski, adding that the role of social enterprises and social entrepreneurs will play an increasingly large role. ESC adopted numerous acts paying attention to the problems in the field of social entrepreneurship and social economy, said Prof. Dulevski and added that ESC organized a series of discussions in the country on this topic. The interest to the new opportunities in this field is growing incessantly, noted Prof. Dulevski.

2,000 social enterprises

The representatives of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy and the Ministry of Economy introduced the participants to the new opportunities for financing within the operative programmes. It became clear that around 2,000 non-financial enterprises “identify” themselves as “social enterprises” and employ around 30,000 people. Representatives of already functioning social enterprises and foundations, which are funding social activities, have underlined the need for broad discussion on the future of social entrepreneurship. The Student Club of Young Entrepreneurs declared that there is a great interest for social entrepreneurship among young people, but they need more concrete information on financing and starting capital.

“Save the Bulgarian traditions in the field of social enterprises because Bulgaria has over 100 years of tradition in this field in the face of the cooperatives”, advised the Vice-president of Group III at the EESC Ariane Rodert, in her concluding remarks.

Source: EESC: Europe III. The voice of Group III Various Interests July 2015: