21st century societal challenges such as fiscal constraints, environmental concerns, an ageing population and the difficulties of unplanned migration require a multi-stakeholder approach and cross-fertilisation of skills and knowledge. In searching for solutions, there is an increasing convergence between the ethos of civil society, the vision of public institutions and the means of business. In this new tripartite partnership, these initiatives need to be better enabled, coordinated and capitalized to realise their full potential.
The European Union has committed to support such developments with the introduction of the Social Innovation agenda that President Barroso launched on 17 March 2011 as ‘a cornerstone of Europe 2020', the economic strategy of the EU. The EU also recognises that enhancing and improving the finance available for social innovation as well as social enterprise and business will better facilitate EU cohesion and promote smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.
On 30 March, European Commissioner Barnier - in charge of single market and financial services - called for the establishing of a European Social Bank as part of the Social Business Initiative (see video below). A report by the Bureau of European Policy Advisors (BEPA) on Social Innovation makes the same call. In July 2011 Commissioner Barnier also launched a consultation as part of the Social Business Initiative to explore measures for supporting social businesses through private investment funds.
Euclid Network has convened a task force of representatives from European social banks and social investors as a direct response to these initiatives. We are delighted that Commissioner Barnier has provided his formal support for our task force.