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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Social innovation must become a reflex accordind Mercedes BRESSO

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News Europe needs a more coherent approach to promoting social innovation if it is to fulfil its ambitions as one of the flagship initiatives of the Europe 2020 programme

President Bresso was addressing the opening session of the Forum on Social Innovation: European Vision, local action, organised by the CoR in Brussels on Tuesday, which focused on some of the most ambitious flagship initiatives of the Europe 2020 strategy: creating an innovative union, dealing with poverty and setting an agenda for new skills and jobs. "One of the weaknesses of the current European approach has been the fragmentation of policy areas and a lack of overall coherence and recognition. Opting for innovation may sound obvious, but it does require a serious European mentality shift. Sustainable innovation implies the active empowerment of citizens, individually and collectively, no matter what their social or economic background," she said. The main aim of the Forum meeting was to gather best practice, share knowledge and provide input for better cooperation between all the relevant stakeholders in the field of social innovation, a sometimes vague concept that covers a wide range of different social needs: from education, an ageing population and community development to health care and working conditions. Mariella Zezza, Minister for Labour from the Italian region of Lazio, also addressed the opening session, calling for more cooperation between the European and local level. Based on the experiences from her own region, where European Social Fund support has helped with local projects designed to reduce unemployment levels among women and young people, she underlined the need for this common approach if the Europe2020 goals are to be reached: "We need to make sure that we face the challenges with solid actions," she said. Ingrid Lieten, Vice-Minister President of the Flemish Government, also provided feedback on her region's approach: "Flanders is in the policy formation phase of a new approach for social innovation, that should focus on the work place, be technology driven and a real and significant economic impact," she said. Meanwhile, Martin Hirsch, president of the Agence du Service Civique in France and the brains behind a number of French government measures designed to get people back to work, stressed the need for the EU to develop evidence-based reforms and to scale-up successful local experiments in social innovation. President Bresso concluded by stressing the need for innovation from Europe when it comes to promoting social innovation: "The European welfare model should not limit itself to mimicking other less-developed models, which will simply result in a race to the bottom, but rather develop innovative and creative ideas of its own," she said.

Source :  Press room - Committee of the regions


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