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How do cooperatives and SEE contribute to the integration of migrants?

2 February 2018

In the framework of the ongoing opinion "Social Economy Enterprises (SEE) as a driver for migrant integration", the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) organised a public hearing "How do Social Economy Enterprises contribute to the integration of migrants?"

The Social Economy Enterprise (SEE) model offers a framework for mobilising and enhancing newcomers’ skills. SEEs facilitate the settlement and integration process for immigrants by providing them with employment or training and helping them with practical settlement support. Although they operate in different ways in different national contexts, Social Economy Enterprises have managed to define common principles of action – inclusive, subsidiary protection of the most disadvantaged people – taking a proactive approach to receiving migrants. In this way they have mobilised the relevant communities, activated networks and partnerships, and cooperated with central and local administrations to organise reception and integration processes.

The main objective of the hearing was to debate on the role cooperatives and other SEE can play in migrants’ integration, and to present the conclusions and recommandations of the opinion (still a preliminary draft).

CECOP - CICOPA Europe President Giuseppe Guerini is rapporteur for the opinion and noted in particular that:

  • SEE have managed to define common principles of action – action that is inclusive, subsidiary and protects the most disadvantaged people – taking up the challenge of assisting migrants in a proactive manner and mobilising communities and the public in the areas concerned;
  • in these SEE, the participatory dimension is relevant in terms of the security and protection provided when an economic activity is set up, as they help people to get out of the informal economy and undeclared work;
  • SEE can encourage and support not just the creation of new jobs, but also entrepreneurship and access to economic activities for migrants and refugees.

For this reason it would make sense for the European Union to continue to promote social economy enterprises, as one of the drivers of migrants’ development and inclusion in the labour market and society.

M. Guerini added that among the chief characteristics of the work carried out by social economy enterprises, is their capacity to mobilise and involve their local communities, setting up networks and partnerships that enhance relations with central and local administrations and make it possible to organise assistance and inclusion programmes that are more easily accepted by the local population.