Original publication on xes.cat, website of the Xarxa d’Economia Solidària de Catalunya (XES), regional network that is part of REAS, the Spanish Network of Alternative and Solidarity Economies, which in turn is part of RIPESS Europe.

The Government of the Generalitat de Catalunya has given green light to the Social and Solidarity Economy Bill, an approval that now opens the possibility that it can be sent in the future to the Parliament of Catalonia for debate and approval. This is an important step after more than a decade of advocacy to make it a reality, where the perseverance of the XES and other social and SSE actors have played a fundamental role in getting this far.

In 2014 the XES formulated its proposal to promote a law in Catalonia that would recognise and promote the Social and Solidarity Economy. In 2017, the Social Economy Association of Catalonia (AESCAT) was formed, which brought together, in addition to the XES, other representative organisations: the Confederation of Cooperatives of Catalonia, the Board of Third Social Sector Organisations of Catalonia, the Business Confederation of the Third Social Sector of Catalonia and the Federation of Mutual Societies of Catalonia A new proposal was drawn up with AESCAT and approved by the XES General Assembly in 2019.

AESCAT brought together an important collective force that has been crucial for the drafting of the current Bill, which began the legal process in 2020 with the publication of the basic document of the law. The SSE Law Commission of the XES has fought and influenced over the last 10 years to ensure that the resulting legislation includes and contemplates as far as possible the principles and values that define the Solidarity Economy.

The road has been long and there is still a long way to go: after this green light, it would be necessary for theGoverntosend the Proposal of Law to the Parliament to begin the procedures for its definitive approval and, subsequently, it would be necessary to draw up a regulation that deploys and specifies the law that is approved.

From the XES they will continue to persevere and advocate politically for this to happen, while at the same time we will continue to fight to ensure that the spirit and interests of the Solidarity Economy are taken into account to the maximum extent possible It is for reasons such as these that the XES is more than necessary, which is possible with the strength of its members and its social base.

The project approved by the Govern

The Law establishes the formal and institutional recognition of the Social Economy, as well as the criteria that gives it meaning: the primacy of people, the collective interest over economic profit and compliance with the principles set out in its articles.

The Bill includes relevant elements such as, for example, the principles and values that must be complied with by entities that wish to form part of the Social and Solidarity Economy sector. In this sense, the main values are the general interest, the common good, people and the social purpose above capital and profit; the systems of governance and democratic participation in decision-making and in the participation of the different groups that make up the entity.

Likewise, the principles are social and feminist transformation and the promotion of gender equality; the generation of stable and quality employment, fair labour relations and wage equality; and the commitment to the environment with the will to make an effective energy and ecological transition in order to reverse the climate emergency.

On the other hand, the Bill also highlights the rooting in the territory and the participation in the social fabric; transparency about the activity, system of governance, management, remuneration and distribution of surpluses if any; inter-cooperation with other initiatives of the Social and Solidarity Economy, and independence from the public authorities and from other companies or different entities.

These values and principles are requirements that must be accredited by the entities of the sector that carry out economic and business activity in Catalonia, the fulfilment of which will be verified by the Social and Solidarity Economy Register, according to the indicators and procedures established by the Regulation to be approved by the Government at a later date.

Catalan Council of the Social and Solidarity Economy
The Bill provides for the creation of the Catalan Council of the Social and Solidarity Economy as a consultative, advisory, analytical and debating body on matters related to this sector, which will be attached to the department of the Government responsible for this matter.

This Council shall act with complete autonomy and independence in the exercise of its functions, and shall be responsible for fostering and strengthening dialogue between the organisations of the Social and Solidarity Economy and the Catalan public authorities in relation to the promotion, participation, recognition, evolution and consolidation of this sector in Catalonia.

At the proposal of the Council, the Department responsible for this matter shall present to the Government of the Generalitat a National Social and Solidarity Economy Plan every three years and a diagnosis of the situation of the sector in Catalonia that has been taken into account in drawing up the Plan.

Measures to promote the Social and Solidarity Economy

In addition to the National Plan for the Social and Solidarity Economy, the Bill also establishes that the Catalan administrations must promote awareness-raising and training measures for the sector in order to promote its knowledge and visibility among citizens, the professional world and, especially, in all stages of the educational and academic system.

Furthermore, the administrations must promote the creation and strengthening of the Social and Solidarity Economy throughout the territory by means of, among other initiatives, public, cooperative, social and community collaboration with entities in the sector for the provision of public services.

They must also ensure that aid aimed at the Catalan business fabric includes Social and Solidarity Economy organisations as beneficiaries.

Finally, theGovernment will promote collaboration with Social and Solidarity Economy organisations in public policies on social and affordable housing. In this case, priority will be given to organisations registered in the Social and Solidarity Economy Register in policies for the transfer of land or public assets and the granting of public aid linked to increasing the housing stock for social policies.