Salto Diario article, by REAS, red de redes

Before the approval by the Council of Ministers of the new Integral Law of the Social Economy and the Spanish Strategy of Social Economy to promote a reference sector at international level, we share some first reflections in the key of Solidarity Economy according to the recently approved text.

The regulatory package of the new Comprehensive Law on Social Economy together with the Spanish Social Economy Strategy, also approved, represents a necessary advance for the recognition and promotion of the Social Economy as an economic model based on people and the environment, the backbone of the territory and capable of promoting social innovation initiatives and finally adapting the regulatory framework to the current context.

The new Law uniquely recognizes the potential of cooperatives and the collaborative model that underlies the Social and Solidarity Economy, guaranteeing the necessary support to face the economic, social and environmental challenges that await us. Among the novelties included in the Law also highlights the new definition of groups and people who are exposed to socioeconomic vulnerability and who will be able to access employment through insertion companies.

Another of the improvements to celebrate are the advances of this regulation to guarantee and promote the social economy and in particular the insertion companies promoted for non-profit entities. From the perspective of the Social and Solidarity Economy, the promotion and creation of initiatives with this legal form must be exclusive to non-profit entities and companies as is the case with the special non-profit Employment Centers to avoid the interference of commercial companies and in particular of large corporations that see in the companies of insertion a tool to exploit to lower labor costs and compete on equality with entities whose sole purpose is the socio-labor inclusion of disadvantaged groups. In this regard, we welcome the fact that the market reserve in the field of public procurement is not distorted and that the non-profit principle that governs the contractual regulations is therefore maintained.

Margins for improvement

However, although the general reading is positive, the new law lacks a greater specificity in linking the social economy with public procurement. There is ample room for improvement in the current law on public sector contracts in terms of responsible procurement and purchasing. The path marked from the European directives 23/2014 and 24/2014 in which the principles of a more responsible contracting with the environment were established and where the entities and companies of the social economy saw their value recognized in terms of generation of quality employment and sustainability were included in the current state regulations in Law 9/2017.

We speak, for example, of the “privileged” access to public procurement that the market reserve supposes, but also of a greater participation of SMEs and social agents in the contracting procedures in favor of transparency and the improvement of services, works and provisions of the public. A clear reference in the Social Economy Law in this regard would allow deepening this path towards public contracting and procurement when the review process of the current contracting law is opened.

Likewise, what is missing is the promotion by the law of the co-production of public policies to promote from a public-community approach the management and provision of services by community initiatives and companies and the Social and Solidarity Economy in key sectors and areas with wide implementation of the SSE as is the case of renewable energies, sustainable food, care, ethical finance or cooperative housing.

On the other hand, from the perspective of the SSE we believe it is appropriate to continue advancing to include, beyond the legal formula, an economic model, that of the Social and Solidarity Economy for the transformation of the social environment. It is necessary that the model be reflected in the state regulatory apparatus so that new initiatives that provide social and environmental improvements based on community action and initiative can be protected by legislation.

For all these reasons, REAS RdR will work together with the political parties and in the parliamentary procedure to improve the law and that some of the pending demands can be included in the final text to continue generating legal and regulatory frameworks that promote fairer, more sustainable and supportive economic models.

In the words of Alfonso B. Bolado, president of the confederal network of Solidarity Economy, “Any regulatory advance that proposes a more solid, democratic and transparent social economy is a priori good news but there is still a long way to go. From the SSE we must continue to promote new regulatory changes, of course, but also social and cultural that promote a necessary transition towards a socioeconomic model that guarantees the sustainability of life in the long term”