“Social enterprises are taking an increasingly stable place in the country's economy, but there are still numerous opportunities”. With this statement, Ivaylo Kalfin, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Labour and Social Affairs of Bulgaria, opened the Exhibition.

“We are to launch specific financial instruments in support of social entrepreneurs”, he announced before cutting the ribbon. Other participants agreed about the importance of this fair. “This initiative started very modestly five years ago, but quickly established itself. There is nowhere such this type of fair”, said Bruno Roelants, Secretary General of CECOP- CICOPA Europe.

Jens Nilsson, Co-President of the Social Economy Intergroup at the European Parliament agreed that “the political interest in the social economy sector is growing very rapidly in the European Union”. He also claimed that “we all support this Forum”. The exhibition is part of the Fifth European Forum on Social Entrepreneurship, covering also the international conference “Social entrepreneurship - an Innovative Model of Social Inclusion and Employment”, a round table on new legislation in this area and business meetings. Co-organizers of the events are the European Commission, the European Economic and Social Committee, the European Confederation of Producers’ Cooperatives and Social Enterprises, the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy of Bulgaria, the National Union of Worker Producers’ Cooperatives of Bulgaria and other eight nongovernmental organisations. International collaboration The fair had stands from Bulgarian, Rumanian, Italian and Maltese cooperatives from the CECOP network.

Still within the framework of the forum, a Round Table with representatives from the Bulgarian Ministry of Labor, the European Commission, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee, CECOP and others. A whole half day session was dedicated to examining a Bulgarian draft social economy law, with experts from Spain, France and Romania, who explained in detail the social economy laws of their own countries. That was the beginning of a process of an international inter-cooperative collaboration to promote and develop institutional relations and businesses.

By June specific working groups will start to work to evaluate the access to European projects, trade in products and services, and take actions of transactional mobility of young people.