The financial crisis and subsequent austerity measures that have dramatically curtailed public investments in social welfare have created the pressing need for social innovation. By social innovation, we mean new ideas that meet social needs, create social networks and test new policy frameworks. These innovations can be policy actions, products, services or models addressing unmet needs more effectively.
Social innovation can address poverty and generate sustainable wealth and well-being while promoting a learning and participative society. With this in mind, the role of local and regional authorities is crucial in the effective governance of social innovation, which cannot thrive if constricted by a top-down, heavily centralised model.
In order for social innovation to reach its objectives, it is important to ensure effective information sharing across the EU, the support to innovative entrepreneurs and the mobilisation of investors and public organisations so as to encourage market uptake of innovative solutions and stimulate employment.
Virginie Herz is France 24’s Foreign Affairs Editor and host of Actuelles, a weekly show on women reshaping the world. A French and German dual national, Virginie studied political science, European affairs and journalism in France, Germany, the UK and Spain. She started her career as freelance correspondent in Thailand, and later reported for French public TV. She joined France 24 at its launch in 2006. As a senior reporter, she has covered a broad array of international crises, conflicts and high-level summits. Her report on the Guinean putsch leader, “Dadis Camara”, was nominated for two major French awards.
France 24 is a French state-owned 24-hour international news and current affairs television network based in Paris. Its channels broadcast in French, English and Arabic.
Catiuscia Marini is president of the Umbria Region in Italy. After having served as mayor of Todi from 1997 to 2007, she was a Member of the European Parliament from 2008-2009. Catiuscia Marini has been a CoR member since June 2010, following her election as president of the Region of Umbria in March 2010. She was re-elected for a second term of office to the presidency of the Region in May 2015. In February 2015, she was elected president of the PES Group in the CoR. She has been CoR rapporteur on a number of key political dossiers and is currently co-rapporteur for the CoR opinion on the Common Provisions Regulation for the 2021-2027 period. She holds a degree in political science from the University of Perugia.
Karl-Heinz Lambertz was elected president of the European Committee of the Regions in July 2017. He was minister-president of the German-speaking Community of Belgium from 1999 until 2014 and the president of its Parliament from 2014 until 2016. Since September 2016, he has been a senator of the German-speaking Community. A CoR member since 1999, he was previously president of the PES Group from 2011 to 2015, and the CoR's first vice-president from 2015 until July 2017. Mr Lambertz studied law and served for some years as a lecturer in the Law Department of the Catholic University of Louvain-La-Neuve.
Carole Delga has been president of the Occitanie/Pyrénées-Méditerranée Region since 2016. After completing her university studies in Toulouse and Montpellier, she started her political career in 2008 when she was elected mayor of Martres-Tolosane. She obtained a second term in 2014. In 2010 she became vice-president of the Midi-Pyrénées Region. In 2012 she was elected MP for Haute-Garonne. From June 2014 to June 2015, she served the government of Manuel Valls as deputy secretary of state for Trade, Crafts, Consumption and the Social and Solidarity Economy. In January 2016 she was elected president of the newly created Occitanie Region.
André Viola has been president of the Aude Departmental Council since 2011 and was re-elected for a second term in 2015. He was previously a regional councillor and, from 2003 until 2011, he was mayor of Bram in the Aude Department. André Viola has been a CoR member since 2016. In 2015, he was appointed national secretary for Social Justice and Territorial Cohesion of the French Socialist Party (PS). He is also the coordinator of the PS-run departments. He holds a degree in law from the University of Toulouse and teaches public law.
Micaela Fanelli was elected a regional councillor in 2018 for the Molise Region, and from 2010 to 2016 she was a member of the provincial council. From 2009 to 2018, she was Mayor of Riccia. Since 2004, she has been a member of the European Committee of the Regions. She has been a member of the COTER and ECON commissions. During her time in these roles she has been rapporteur for two opinions on the local impact of globalisation. Since 2011 she has been a member of the National Association of Italian Municipalities (ANCI) National Council and executive committee. Since 2013 she has been a member of the national executive committee of the Democratic Party (DP), and since 2014 she has been the regional secretary for the Molise DP. She graduated in law from LUISS University in Rome, specialising in public law at the Cesare Alfieri Faculty of the University of Florence.
Andreas Klimek studied business administration at the University of Lüneburg. Subsequently, he worked as a managing director for a number of medium-sized trading companies. In 2009 he founded the Bürgermarkt Systemzentrale GmbH and started in his home town a first pilot project. Since 2016, the project has been co-funded by the ESF Social Innovation program with the aim of adding social facets to the civic market and testing social franchises.
Mr Horta graduated with a degree in law from the University of Lisbon's Faculty of Law, and was an associate professor at the School of Social and Political Sciences.
Over the course of his career he has occupied the following roles: member of parliament; Minister for Commerce and Tourism in the second and sixth governments; Deputy Minister of State for the Prime Minister in the seventh government; Minister for Agriculture, Commerce and Fisheries in the eighth government; and member of the Council of State. He also served as an ambassador to the OECD, chair of the board of AICEP, and vice-president and economic coordinator of the Parliamentary Group of the Socialist Party. Mr Horta was president of the Lisbon metropolitan area (Metropolitan Council) from 2015-2017. He has been a member of the CoR since 2014.
Gabriele Bischoff has been the President of the Workers' Group of the European Economic and Social Committee since October 2015. She is special advisor at the German Confederation of Trade Unions (DGB), having headed the European Policy Department at the Federal Executive of DGB in 2008-2014. She joined the trade unions about 30 years ago and has worked as a senior advisor for equality for IG Metall Germany and as a social attaché responsible for social dialogue at the Permanent Representation of Germany in Brussels. Gabriele is a member of the Executive Committee of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) and also a member of the board of the European Movement in Germany. She holds a diploma in political science from the Free University of Berlin.
President of the regional government of Andalusia since September 2013, Susana Díaz Pacheco has developed her political career in the autonomous community. She has held various positions in the PSOE of Andalusia and institutional positions in the City of Seville, the Parliament of Andalusia, the Congress of Deputies, the Senate and the Andalusian Government. Susana Díaz Pacheco studied law at the University of Seville. As president of the region, she has prioritised the mobilisation of resources for the creation of employment, the defence of the welfare state and the implementation of transparency measures and control of public funds in the Andalusian Administration. She has been a CoR member since 2016 and is currently the CoR's rapporteur on the future European Social Fund (ESF+).
Lieve Fransen is a senior adviser on Health, Social Affairs and Migration to the European Policy Centre. She is a qualified medical doctor specialising in global public health and social policies worldwide and has a PhD in social policies. She worked as a doctor and clinical and public health researcher in the developing world, as well as in Europe. Her career in international public health includes a role as public health advisor to the Ministries of Health in Mozambique, Kenya, Rwanda and the Cape Verde Islands. She was also director of a research programme on pregnant women and new-born babies in Rwanda, of a research programme on sexual and reproductive health in Kenya and at the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp. She founded the Global Fund for HIV/AIDS, Malaria and TB and was a member of the founding board and later co-chair of the board of the Global Fund. She worked at senior management level in the European Commission for 23 years, including in the Directorate for Social Affairs and Employment, where she was director for social policy and the Europe 2020 strategy and the European Semester. She is a member of the European Commission's High Level Task Force on Investing in Social Infrastructure.
Catiuscia Marini, President of the PES Group in the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) and President of the Umbria Region, Italy
André Viola, President of the Departmental Council of Aude, France, and CoR Member
Impact of social innovation and best practices
Moderated by Virginie Herz, journalist at France 24
Micaela Fanelli, Regional Councillor of Molise Region, Italy
Basílio Horta, Mayor of Sintra, Portugal, and CoR Member
Andreas Klimek, Project manager, Bürgermarkt Systemzentrale GmbH, Germany
Debate with participants
Funding opportunities and the creation of social innovation ecosystems
Moderated by Virginie Herz, journalist at France 24
Susana Díaz Pacheco, President of the Region of Andalusia, Spain, and CoR Rapporteur on the ESF+
Gabriele Bischoff, President of the Workers' Group of the European Economic and Social Committee
Lieve Fransen, Member of the European Commission High Level Task Force on Investing in Social Infrastructure in Europe
Debate with participants
Carole Delga, President of the Region of Occitanie, France
Karl-Heinz Lambertz, President of the European Committee of the Regions
On 7 September, from 9.30 to 12.30, participants will have the opportunity to visit the following projects:
The PES Group extraordinary meeting will be followed by a citizens' debate on "Our fight for social progress - Let's act Together!", starting at 17.30 and organised in cooperation with the European Parliament's S&D Group within the framework of the TOGETHER initiative. More info on this event here.
If you are interested in taking part in these activities, please mention it on the registration form.