Social innovation has been a ‘buzz’ term in European discourse over the past years, having been actively promoted by the European Commission, and tied to important funding lines for the national and EU level. The potential of a socially innovative approach to contribute to mitigating the consequences of the crisis, as well as to ensure better social inclusion and social cohesion in Europe, has been widely praised. However, the definition and use of the concept remain tenuous, and there is still ongoing debate regarding its merits, as well as hidden traps.
The debate came at a timely moment, on the eve of the Mid-Term Review of Europe 2020 and of the Multiannual Financial Framework. It was an opportunity to re-discuss and better frame the right kind of social innovation, which can contribute to tackling poverty in the context of the European Semester and the European Structural and Investment Funds, and take a closer look at the role and importance of civil society organisations and the work they are doing on the ground, as well as the funding opportunities available to them.
The event used as a starting point the resolution Social entrepreneurship and social innovation in combating unemployment, authored by Hon. Verónica Lope Fontagné MEP, as well as EAPN’s own work on Social Innovation during 2015:
- EAPN’s definition of social innovation, analysis of opportunities, risks, threats, and checklist, as well as 4 best practices are now brought together in EAPN’s Booklet on Social Innovation, which was launched at the event.
Chairing was Antoine Saint-Denis, Founder of Europe for People, policy and social innovation expert of the ESF Transnational Platform (AEIDL / European Commission). The panel included representatives from EAPN, the European Parliament, the European Commission, Eurodiaconia, and Social Economy Europe, and a number of participants took the floor from the audience, in a lively discussion.
Access here the following the presentations:
European Anti-Poverty Network:
- Marija Babović, EAPN Serbia, Chair of EAPN’s Social Innovation Task Force, Co-Chair of EAPN’s EU Inclusion Strategies Group – presentation
- Frank Vanbiervliet, Médecins du Monde, EAPN Belgium – presentation
- Stephan Burger – presentation
Social Economy Europe:
- Víctor Meseguer – Speaking points
European Commission, DG Employment, Social Affairs, and Inclusion:
- Claire Grapeloux, replacing Acting Director Manuela Geleng – Speaking points
See the full programme of the event here.
For more information about EAPN’s work on Social Innovation, please contact Amana Ferro in the Secretariat.
Acknowledgments: Photos of event: Amana Ferro, EAPN. Image by Project Salta, EAPN Portugal