PARTNER CONTENT

Social economy as key to an ever closer union

The promotion of a social and solidarity economy on a Greek and European level as a tool for fostering a common perception of Europe was the subject of a four-day workshop hosted at Agia, Thessaly, in central Greece, between June 3-6.

The workshops were carried out within the framework of FOCUS, a European project designed to highlight the important role of social economy in enhancing European citizenship.

On Friday June 3, Theodora Patsiavoudi, general secretary of European programs at Agia, made a presentation of the municipality. Deputy regional governor of Thessaly Constantinos Noussios presented an overview of the EU-funded programs carried out in the region. Charalambos Samantzis of the University of Thessaly career office gave an overview of the institution.

Lia Gkountroumpi, of the Directorate of Operational Planning at the Municipality of Larissa, discussed the prospects and difficulties of participating in European projects. Nikos Dagas presented the actions of the Chamber of Larissa, while Sevasti Basdeki discussed the work of Development Company of Larissa (AENOL S.A.).

Representatives of Estonia (Local Action Group-East Harju Partnership, Local Action Group- Western Harju Partnership), Portugal (EcoSol-CES), Croatia (Udruga za otocni razvoj Brac), France (Les 7 vents), Italy (CESV Organisation, Forum del Terzo Settore Lazio), and Spain (Provincial Government of Teruel - ASAPME Teruel, Provincial Government of Teruel - ATADI org), offered a snapshot of their actions, at Hotel Golden Beach, on Saturday June 4.

On the same day, a workshop on “Development areas of social entrepreneurship and positive EU skepticism” took place at the cultural conference center Chrysalida, in Agia. The workshop was attended by economist and social entrepreneur Elena Panaritis and University of Athens professor Panagiotis Karkatsoulis.

Drawing from their experience in Greece and abroad, the speakers discussed a strategy, the necessary institutional framework, and the challenges for the development of a social economy, while emphasizing its key role in social well-being. Vassilis Taktikos, coordinator of the Hellenic Observatory of Civil Society Organizations, also shared his ideas on social entrepreneurship in Greece.

Meanwhile, guests had a chance to visit a number of villages in the area (Metaxohori, Omolio, Kokino Nero, Velika), the city of Larissa, several archaeological sites, and to get a taste of local culture (Cherry Festival, Hot Springs, the castle of Velika).

The event came to a close on Monday, June 6 with a workshop on good social business practices, on a national and European level. The day started with a presentation of the actions taken by the Municipality of Strumyani in Bulgaria and the Municipality of Naxxar in Malta. That was followed by a presentation of the work by social cooperative enterprise Mentors made by its chairman, George Arsenis. A presentation of the Olympus-Kissavos Tourism (OLKIS) network was followed by a seminar on “Producer groups: Charting the future of Greek agriculture” by Dinos Bliatsios. The day ended with a presentation by Stavroula Sdrolia, director of Antiquities Ephorate of Larissa.

The project FOCUS “Stimulating new forms of active civic participation through focus on Social and Solidarity Economy,” is being implemented under the European Program “Europe for citizens.”

The project is financed exclusively by the “Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency” (EACEA) of the European Commission.

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