On the 20th of November, EUD followed an online Strategic Dialogue on social economy and job creation, organised by the European Commission. During the meeting, the European Commission presented the study ‘Impact of the Social Business Initiative (SBI) and its follow-up actions’ and discussed the upcoming EU’s Action Plan for social economy.
Social economy plays a key role in the employment of many persons with disabilities, as it creates opportunities for stronger, more inclusive and innovative societies. When designing plans to bolster social economy, extra efforts need to be put to make progress towards a culture that values diversity and innovation, including the added value of deaf persons and sign language users to society, in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the UN CRPD.
During the meeting, a representative from the European Center for Social Finance gave an overview of the conclusions of the study, such as the increase of visibility of social economy and an improvement of conditions for social economy since 2011. Specific policy recommendations were formulated, including the need to stimulate capacity building, education and training, promote legal recognition and harmonisation of regulatory frameworks and tackle needs of specific territories.
Ann Branch, Head of Unit at the Job Creation section of DG for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, opened a round of discussions in preparation for the upcoming Action Plan for social economy. Among many interventions, a representative from the European Association of Service Providers of Persons with Disabilities (EASPD) explained that a lighter regime is needed for social service providers who provide support in education, training and employment for persons with disabilities to fulfil their human rights. Amana Ferro from the European Roma Grassroots Organisations Network (ERGO Network) highlighted that the future Action Plan on Social Economy should target specific groups within the population at risk of exclusion and discrimination, and not only territories.
The current situation due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic poses a great challenge to economic growth of the European economies. This consequently has a disproportionate impact on deaf persons and other persons with disabilities, who are more likely to be unemployed that their hearing peers due to ongoing exclusion and discrimination.
At the end of the session, Ann Branch announced that the study ‘Impact of the Social Business Initiative (SBI)’ will be published in early 2021. EUD will continue to raise awareness of the daily barriers faced by deaf persons when trying to enter the open labour market and make links between existing and future frameworks such as the Action Plan on Social Economy and the needs of deaf persons across the European Union.
EUD would like to thank the European Commission for the organisation of this Strategic Dialogue.