Country representatives [France (APES, MESS Occitanie, UFISC, Université Paris 8, MES France), Portugal (REDPES), Luxembourg (INEES), Poland (FAIRTRADE POLSKA), Germany (CSX), Italy (RIES Italia), Switzerland (Après Genève; Après Vaud), Norway (Nedenfra / From below CO/Tøyen Unlimited), Czech Republic (EKUMENIC ACADEMY), Croatia (ZMAG), Hungary (KIFESZ / FAKETE) and Greece (DOCK)]; together with representatives from GSEF, Social Economy Europe, SSE International Forum and Ripess Intercontinental; attended the Ripess Europe General Assembly from 19-21 September in Villarceaux, near the French capital. VSOK from Austria, REAS Red de redes from Spain and TECHNET BERLIN from Germany connected online to the hybrid activities.

 The site chosen was the Villarceaux sheepfold (La Bergerie de Villarceaux), owned by the  Fundation Pour le progress de l’Homme (founder of both Ripess Europe and Ripess Intercontinental), which brings together social and economic organisations working for the sustainable development of the locality. The aim is to test a more autonomous agricultural system, based on a better complementarity between livestock and crops, as well as social initiatives and projects.

During the first day of the meeting, a collective analysis of the challenges and the current picture of Ripess Europe’s work was made.

Among others, the participants presented several current projects on topics as varied as measuring with institutions the impact of SSE projects (Devisus project) in France; soft skills training for SSE in Eastern Europe from the Czech Republic; on the presentation of a ‘cookbook‘ disseminating ‘recipes’ for a territoriality of the commons and a SSE in different areas of daily life with UFISC from France, CRIES from Romania, Fekete Sereg from Hungary, Largo Residences from Portugal, Solidarius from Italy and RIPESS Europe from, Luxemburg.

There was also the presentation of the new care commission, which answers questions such as: How do we work together in the social solidarity economy? How do we carry out our selection processes, our meetings, etc.? Since we share the same feminist values that put care for the people we work with and those we care for, as well as the planet, on the table, this commission is a natural and necessary one.The recently approved project ‘Youth care for change‘ was also presented: European project with COSPE on care in youth and/or feminist organisations with an intersectional feminist approach with members in Belgium (MDI), France (GRDR), Greece (OBST), Balkan countries, Maghreb and Fridays for Future.

Finally, Ripess Intercontinental shared what we had done during the year and will soon be reflected in the activity report; what we are doing now and upcoming projects.

On the second day, in response to the question ‘Who are we?’, the aim was to consolidate the foundations by taking into account organisations, partnerships, interrelationships and alliances, rethinking key values and reaffirming what emerges from them (REAS, for example, has carried out collective work to renew its charter of values). Rethinking key values and reaffirming what emerges from territorialities (REAS, for example, has carried out collective work to renew its charter of values). What are the fundamental concepts that we want to promote? Today, RIPESS EU stands for this’.

Laure, from the organisation UFISC, presented the collaborative methodology they used in the international COOPTER project to decide on the content of the manifesto on ‘SSE, Culture and Territorial Cooperation’ mentioned above. This case served as an inspiration before explaining the method that has been followed in a collaborative way to bring to the assembly the themes that the European members have chosen: 

  • Solidarity
  • Social Justice
  • Equity and equality 
  • Environmental sustainability

In addition to these, several other concepts have been presented as part of the umbrella of concepts that RipessEU members want to make part of their text:

  • Emancipation
  • Democracy
  • Anti-fascism
  • Co-construction
  • Decent work
  • Anti-capitalism
  • Resilience
  • Reciprocity
  • Mutuality 
  • Inclusion 
  • Solidarity
  • Cooperativism
  • Decoloniality
  • Intersectionality
  • Diversity
  • Self-management

Then, among these, some concepts that could encompass all were chosen to draft in small working groups the phrase that could be implemented in the charter of values: solidarity, social justice, diversity, economic transformation, self-management, reciprocity and decent work.

After lunch, participants divided into working groups to create content and discuss the following topics:

  • Care, feminist commission
  • Public policies
  • Scientific Committee and dissemination of knowledge
  • Territorial cooperation

The results will be shared online afterwards.

To conclude the day’s work, current projects and lines of work were shared, as well as the alliances and cooperative work between members and allies that are being carried out. In this way the network benefits from possible synergies and common work on the continent.

The last day was dedicated to an open roundtable session divided into two phases: a first European phase with Sara de Heusch from Social Economy Europe, Juan del Rio from Transition Network and Patricia Artiod from RTS France. The work of the latter organisation focuses on the relationship with local institutions of SSE enterprises. Social Economy Europe unifies advocacy work from the European social economy and the Transition Network is a conglomerate of European networks seeking an ecological and economic transition with people and planet at the centre. The need to work together was highlighted, especially at this time with the European elections looming.

For the second part of the round table, focused on the more international level with Marion Pouzoulet from ESS Forum International, Martin Georges from GSEF; and Sandra Moreno, the Executive Secretary of Ripess Intercontinental. The discussion, which was lively and participative, focused a lot on the need for collective work between the different umbrellas of concepts and the different movements (social economy, solidarity economy, degrowth, doughnut economy…) to push and be present in the different arenas leading the response to capitalism that SSE members and practitioners live day by day. The main problem is the lack of resources and some conflicting views that cooperation and dialogue can solve in the near future.

It ended with the collective agreements and conclusions that will be carried out over the coming year in terms of common work and other more specific aspects of the day-to-day development of the network.

Of course, the moments of conviviality and exchange were, if possible, almost more valuable than those of the scheduled activities, in which it was possible to delve into the activities that each participant carries out in their territory.