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Social innovation as a new tool for addressing societal challenges

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Opinion Number: CDR 6945/2016
Rapporteur: HENDRICKX Marcelle
Commission: SEDEC
Status: Adopted
Date: 11/05/2017
 
Steps must be taken to simplify the cohesion policy and to cut back the red tape associated with it in order to exploit the full potential of such innovation. The current complexity and scale of the regulatory framework puts applicants off. The Committee has repeatedly called on the EU institutions to properly simplify the legislative package for cohesion policy .

Europe’s cohesion policy makes it difficult to make use of social innovation as an instrument. The fact that projects are small in scale, that partners are small and non-traditional, and that social innovation is not always used as a criterion in applications for European funds means that EU funding for social innovation projects is being hampered.

Consequently, not all European funds and programmes are suitable for social innovation. Just as with technological innovation, social innovation needs room to be able to experiment, and a willingness is needed to accept that not all innovation will be successful.

The Committee calls on the European Commission, when formulating policy, to expressly take into account how policy can be implemented at local and regional level, in keeping with thinking behind the EU Urban Agenda, where the Commission, Member States, and towns and cities map out the practicability of EU policy and legislation at local level. This is all the more relevant for social innovation projects, which are often supported by local and regional authorities during the whole innovation process (emergence, experimentation, diffusion and evaluation).

The Committee would ask the European Commission to acknowledge and endorse social innovation as an instrument for dealing with highly diverse social challenges and for improving Europeans’ quality of life.

The Committee urges the European Commission to remove the obstacles referred to above and to make social innovation one of the criteria in applications for EU funds, to open up funds and programmes to non-traditional institutions and groupings and to allow room for experimentation such that it would be acceptable for an experiment not to succeed.
No impact.
THE EUROPEAN COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS



- In social innovation, the Committee sees an important instrument, involving the public, private and third sectors, for tackling current societal challenges and for improving Europeans’ quality of life. Socially innovative projects have a greater impact on society and the economy in general, when they are combined with technological support, since these engender better solutions for our fellow Europeans.

- The Committee agrees with the definition of social innovation as new ideas (products, services and models) that simultaneously meet social needs (more effectively than alternatives) and create new social relationships and partnerships.

- For successful social innovation not to be shared and just to remain local is a missed opportunity. Innovation often begins locally and on a small scale, but can be useful and applicable to people throughout Europe. In order to use the potential of social innovation to the full, an environment is needed which allows it to be scaled up and publicised.

- The Committee calls on the European Commission, when formulating policy, to expressly take into account how policy can be implemented at local and regional level, in keeping with thinking behind the EU Urban Agenda, where the Commission, Member States, and towns and cities map out the practicability of EU policy and legislation at local level. This is all the more relevant for social innovation projects, which are often supported by local and regional authorities during the whole innovation process (emergence, experimentation, diffusion and evaluation).

Importance

High
Medium
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Adoption of the opinion during the 123rd plenary session of the European Committee of the Regions

The opinion was adopted by unanimity

 
11 May
 

Discussion of the draft opinion

The draft opinion is discussed and adopted at the SEDEC meeting

 
31 Mar
 

Discussion of the working document

The working document is discussed at the SEDEC meeting

 
31 Jan
 

Appointment of Rapporteur

Ms Marcelle HENDRICKX is appointed Rapporteur for the own-initiative opinion

 
19 Sep
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