The 10th Rendez-vous of the Mediterranean: “What Contribution the Social and Solidarity Economy can provide to the Development in the Mediterranean?”


Villa of the Mediterranean

The tenth conference of the Rendez-Vous of the Mediterranean, organized by the Institute of the Mediterranean (IM), FEMISE and the Circle of economists was held in Marseille at the Villa Mediterranean on Saturday, November 8, 2014*.

The theme of the conference relied on a report produced by FEMISE entitled: “Social and Solidarity Economy: a vector of inclusivity and job creation in the Mediterranean Partners Countries?” and which received funding from the European Investment Bank (EIB). (to donwload the Full report)

Donwload the full agenda of the event

To read more and to register for the conference click here


All work carried out on the Mediterranean region concluded on the importance of having a strong and inclusive growth. Today inclusivity is still missing when we are considering participation in decisions or activity through employment. This missing element of growth includes also the north of the Mediterranean, which suffers from very high unemployment (especially youth) and the difficulties to involve or integrate an entire section of its population. Taking into account the difficulties for States to ensure the social cohesion, it has developed a Social and Solidarity Economy whose main goal is not to profit but to reinstall the human factor at the heart of the economy. The organizations concerned are Cooperatives, Mutual Societies, Associations and Foundations.

In a country such as France, it is estimated that a 10% of the GDP replies on the perimeter of these activities, which occupy 2.5 million employees (10% of jobs) and represent 200,000 businesses. These activities now have a legislative framework and a dedicated Ministry. The sectors concerned are mainly those relating to social action, financial activities and insurance, education, and health. In contrast, the trade and the industry are very poorly represented.

Subject to deepen, the questions that will arise at the 10th RV economic of the Mediterranean are the following:

Inaugural Session: New prospects for regional integration in the Euro-Mediterranean region, what changes in the organization? Which way to ensure an open and resilient development in more inclusive societies? 

Session 1: The potential of the Social and Solidarity Economy to tackle societal issues in Mediterranean Countries

This will include a discussion on the potential role of the SSE in the Med Countries and their importance in changing the way we think about the economy, in proposing a way of socioeconomic development that will be both sustainable, democratic and reflecting solidarity.

  • Firstly, the SSE allows the excluded groups, including women, in the economic process.
  • Secondly, the SSE is a response to the lack of economic diversification.  We find the SSE under several forms and in all sectors.
  • Thirdly, the contribution of the ESS may be decisive since it is based on territorial development and proximity
  • Fourthly, its model and its principles of undertaking are not lucrative (limited capital compensation, surpluses placed in reserve etc.) indicate a lower search of short-term profitability and a low exposure to the dealings of the financial markets.
  • Finally, the content of the structures of the social economy (assembly, election, participation) is a school of “democratic” values, an alternative to the powers of the authoritarian model still present in Mediterranean Countries.

Session 2: The structures and sectors concerned by the SSE in the Mediterranean Countries

The SSE is structured under a large legal diversity, around the associative fabric, cooperative (except for Tunisia) and the insurance sector (nonexistent in Egypt). In addition, there are some specific social programs against poverty and exclusion operating on public and also private funding. It is in this session to draw up a balance sheet of the general economy of the SSE in the MC. Will be presented the main structures as well as specific programs at each MC and “success stories” that deserve to be “copied”.

A dialog will also take place on the activities of the SSE with a real potential. Usually it comes from those present in the sectors related to agriculture and fisheries (Morocco, Egypt, Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon and Tunisia), education and training, the social and vocational integration, the habitat (Palestine, Egypt, Morocco), tourism and crafts (especially in Morocco and Egypt) and the sector of the Savings and Credit.

Session 3: The obstacles to the development of the SSE in the Mediterranean Countries

Will be discussed the needs expressed by stakeholders of the SSE and found in various studies. They call for concrete answers:

  •  Improve the environment of the SSE (legal, political, legislative, economic and social)
  •  Facilitate/promote the creation and the emergence of SSE initiatives at regional level and territories through, in particular, the incubation devices and local support
  •  Facilitate access to financing (supply and the demand)
  •  Reinforce the capabilities of stakeholders
  • Structure, organize and create synergy between the SSE actors
  • Promote and showcase the products of the Social and Solidarity Economy
  • Facilitate the access of products of SSE to the market
  •  Promote the access of the actors of the ESS to protection systems and social welfare

The development of the ESS in the PM requires intervention on 3 axes: regulatory, accompanying and financial. This procedure must be done at the national level but also at the regional level, the economic problems require actions from close proximity.

 Session 4: What regulatory tools, financing and accompaniment of the structuring of the ESS?

The question that arises is how to intervene. The role of international donors such as the EIB is inescapable here. The EIB may appeal to the development projects of the SSE by including the 3 priority axes (an axis of support for public policies to build a suitable framework, an axis of accompaniment to raise awareness and strengthen the capacities of the holders of project and an axis of financing in order to ensure the realization of the projects, the 3 axes together allowing a long-term action.

Will be discussed the possible means of intervention, particularly through financial innovation, such as, for example:

  •  The widespread system of unsecured loans
  •  The development of ” crowd funding”, to better orient the migrant transfers
  •  The creation of a Ethical Bank
  •  The launch of a major initiative “Social Impact in Med” which would implement a shared plan of actions among stakeholders mobilized.
  • The creation of a platform for project engineering.


* This annual event is part of and concludes the Marseille’s Mediterranean Economic Week, which will start on November 3.  Given the past success of this event, other organizations such as the World Bank through the CMI based in Marseille, the EIB, the OCEMO and those specifically oriented towards the Euro- Mediterranean region such as the Interdepartmental Group 5 + 5 supervised by the Prime Minister, the General Secretariat of the UfM etc, have subsequently joined the City of Marseille and the Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur Region.