A new post-COVID 19 European Union

Crises are opportunities for change. And the EU, immersed in the pandemic, is living the challenge of facing the integration model for the future.

The 2008 crisis strengthened the Economic and Monetary Union, economic supervision and common governance. These changes were put together under the umbrella of fiscal discipline and did not mean progress towards a greater budgetary union. Most important of all, the reinforcement of social cohesion was left in the pipeline, which was clearly subordinated to the fulfillment of macroeconomic objectives. The increase in poverty and inequality were a consequence of this rigor.

The current COVID 19 crisis has shown learning. On the one hand, at the beginning of the pandemic, budgetary discipline was relaxed immediately, allowing greater spending slack to the states through the safeguard clause. With this reform, they avoided the repetition of the axfisiant austerity model and its dire social consequences.

The agreement reached at the European Council on July 21 is crucial to continue in this direction. For the first time, the EU has skipped its spending ceiling and reaches 2% of GDP. For the first time, the EU admits borrowing to make a massive injection of capital, (just what was so much missed in the previous crisis compared to the maneuver room of the United States). With this decissions several important leaps are made: one towards the deepening of fiscal integration, another of political response and demonstration as a supranational power that has supported its partners (demonstrating against exit movements, such as Brexit that, effectively being in the integration is worth it.

Of course, many issues remain pending, such as how conditionality is to be exercised, that is, supervision of compliance by recipient States with the requirements for spending funds. Also left for reflection is the reduction of the Just Transition Mechanism to feed the new Reconstruction Fund.

https://europa.eu/european-union/coronavirus-response_en

Women and Basque cooperativism looking towards Europe: building a shared agenda

On 10 March 2020 a seminar on women and cooperativism was held at the University of Deusto: “Women and Basque cooperativism looking towards Europe: building a shared agenda”. Women such as Paloma Arroyo, director of COCETA (Spanish Confederation of Associated Work Cooperatives) and Malena Riudavets, vice-president of COCETA and member of the ICA (International Cooperative Alliance) Gender Executive Committee, were invited as speakers on this day. 

In addition, a group workshop was developed to address issues such as the opportunities that cooperatives offer to women and the priorities that should be taken into account when developing a future common agenda. The seminar was organised by the EDISPe team and the Jean Monnet EUCLIPE Chair from the same university. As the speaker Paloma Arroyo pointed out, this society was given to us to transform it, not to maintain it. 

“30 years of EU cohesion policy: governance and future”

On 19 February 2020, a day of reflection was held on the European Union’s cohesion policy: “30 years of EU cohesion policy: governance and future”, organised by the UPV/EHU, EuroBasque and Europe Direct Bizkaia. 30 years after its creation, this cohesion policy represents a concrete expression of European solidarity policy and is also an essential element in achieving a more sustainable, innovative and cooperative future.
The Director of European Affairs of the Basque Government, Mikel Antón Zarragoitia, took part in the meeting and highlighted the challenges of multilevel governance in the EU and the participation of the regions in cohesion policy. Other issues discussed included the participation of citizens, European migration policies and research and transfer to ensure that no one is left behind.
In addition, the holder of the Jean Monnet EUCLIPE Chair, Laura Gómez Urquijo, presented the new features of the Green Pact in the EU’s strategy and its connection with cohesion policy for the challenges of the Just Transition. Representatives from different citizens’ organisations, academics and politicians engaged in a dialogue on the European Union following the presentations made.

The European Commission presents the new European Green Deal

In December 2019 the European Commission published the “European Green Deal”, whose main objective is to transform the EU’s economy so as to reach a sustainable future. This communication is a strategy to accomplish the Sustainable Development Goals, introduced by the United Nations in its agenda for 2030. In addition, the EU wants to achieve these goals throughout a just transition, this means, in a fair and inclusive way, without leaving anyone aside. On the other hand, the new technologies play also a key role in this new project since they will help in the research process and in the promotion of innovation.In this way, we can understand that the EU is expressing its concern about the future of the economy and social welfare. 

 

European Commission Communication (2019) The European Green Deal, COM (2019) 640 of 11 December 2019. https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/european-green-deal-communication_en.pdf

Participation in the 5th Conference on Social Innovation and Digital-Social Transformation

The 5th Global Research Conference “Social Innovation and Socio-Digital Transformation”, towards a comprehensive innovation policy organized by ESSI (The European School for Social Innovation) was held in Dortmund (Germany) on 28-29 October 2019. 

The “European School of Social Innovation”, in cooperation with the TU Dortmund University and the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, plans and designs the event “Social Innovation and Socio-Digital Transformation”, a key event on social innovation in the year 2019. It brought together representatives of scientific concepts, policy approaches and outstanding initiatives in social innovation. The conference also brought together leading experts in social innovation research.

In the framework of the FP7 SI-DRIVE project, the “Atlas of Social Innovation” report presents a comprehensive overview of global initiatives in social innovation. The Atlas provides information on the various approaches used in different regions of the world and in policy areas such as employment, education, environment, climate change, energy, transport, health, poverty and sustainable development.

The Basque Country is one of the regions analysed. Marta Enciso, SI-DRIVE PI from DEUSTO, was one of the researchers in charge of analyzing the evolution of the Basque Country in terms of social innovation. In fact, in the last 10 years, social innovation in this Community has gone from being framed in the social economy to being part of the regional innovation system.