ERGO Network position paper: The role of Social Economy in supporting Roma social and economic inclusion in a Covid-19 context
Europe and the world are facing an unprecedented social and economic shock, brought about by the devastating effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. Many Europeans have lost their incomes, their homes, their security, and even their loved ones. In this context, Roma communities throughout the continent have been particularly hard hit, having to face, in addition to the above, a sharp rise in both popular and institutional antigypsyism, as well as police brutality and numerous breaches of their human rights. The road to healing and recovery will be long and difficult for all, but it will be particularly challenging for those already facing extreme hardship, poverty, and social exclusion, such as Europe’s Roma. However, social economy can support better Roma inclusion, wellbeing and participation, as well as trust-building with the majority community.
Traditional business models are based on a philosophy of maximising profit (or return on investment), which is then distributed to investors or owners (shareholders). Conversely, social economy is a model where the profit is entirely reinvested in the expansion of the enterprise, and/or used to finance social inclusion and community development projects. Because of its explicit objective to contribute to improved societal outcomes particularly for vulnerable groups, and because of its bottom-up, community-rooted approach based on ownership, social economy can play a key role in ensuring social and economic inclusion, equal rights, and wellbeing for Roma communities in the post Covid-19 recovery process.
The social economy sector has already proved its exceptional resilience during the previous economic crisis, and it is now, fittingly, back in focus in the European discourse. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has entrusted Nicolas Schmit, Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, with the development of an Action Plan on Social Economy. This is a key opportunity to ensure that social economy is used as a powerful and effective tool to deliver Roma inclusion on the ground, not least in a post-pandemic context.
This position paper is rooted in the direct experience of ERGO Network national members, Roma and pro-Roma civil society organisations working at grassroots level in European countries. It aims at exploring the positive interplay between the role of social economy in today’s development models and Roma rights and inclusion. It reviews what is needed at national level in order to build strong, sustainable social economy enterprises, which contribute in a positive way to the social and economic inclusion of Europeans of Romani origin across the continent, as a number of good practices from different national contexts, in the Annex.
The publication will be launched in the framework of ERGO Network’s annual public policy event, to be organised on 17 November together with Social Economy Europe and the Social Economy Intergroup in the European Parliament. More information will follow soon!
Access the position paper here.
For more information about ERGO Network’s work on social economy and about the upcoming public policy event, please contact Amana Ferro, Senior Policy Adviser in the ERGO Network Brussels team.