Social economy: a tool of European soft power in the times of COVID-19

Research Paper by Eleonora Lamio

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Through this paper, discover what is social economy and why it can be an EU soft power tool!

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Abstract

Even if a common definition still lacks, the social economy is most commonly identified as a set of entities - cooperatives, mutual societies, non-profit associations, foundations and social enterprises - which objective is to have a social, economic and/or environmental impact for the general interest rather than an economic profit. In Europe, the social economy is widely developed and creates a large benefit for its citizens. With more than 2.8 million social economy enterprises and organizations, it employs 13.6 million citizens and generates 10% of the Union’s GDP. Besides the important social and economic impact that social economy has, it also supports the spreading and awareness-raising of important values such as solidarity, democracy and democratic governance, equality, inclusion, participation, independence, sustainability and the promotion of human, civil and social rights. Social economy and its principles have deep roots in EU values and heritage. This is why the social economy can be a way of sustainable and rights-based economic and social development and can help the achievement of the SDGs. COVID-19 has overshadowed the spreading of some important social and democratic milestones and the achievement of the SDGs in some parts of the world. Fostering and outspread the development of the social economy outside the EU, could be a powerful soft-power tool of the EU to broaden its influence, with the intent of promoting socio-economic development, democracy and fundamental rights within its neighbouring countries and globally.


About the author

Eleonora Lamio works in Brussels as a project manager and policy officer for Diesis Network. She graduated cum laude both from a Bachelor’s degree within the University of Trieste, and from a Master within the LUISS Guido Carli University in Rome. Thanks to several life experiences abroad (Chile, India, Italy, France, Canada, and Belgium) she is curious, open-minded, dynamic and she fluently speaks Italian, French, English, and Spanish. Throughout her academic and professional experiences, Eleonora has collected a wide knowledge on the topic of social economy.