28 February 2024

Belgian EU Presidency kicks off with Social Economy event in Liège

The Belgian EU Presidency hosted the European Social Economy Meeting on 12-13 February in the city of Liège. Fully aware of the potential of the Social Economy, the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the European Union has made it one of its priorities.

The three Belgian regions Wallonia, Flanders and Brussels joined forces to offer participants a great experience and insights into the social economy in Belgium. Over the two days, more than 500 representative of social economy organisations, policymakers, university professors, scientists, and other stakeholders discussed the role of the social economy in inclusive, green, and digital transitions, with the aim of building a more social and sustainable Europe. Philea and several members including Fundación ONCE and the King Baudouin Foundation actively contributed to the meeting, with Francoise Pissart, King Baudouin Foundation illustrating how foundations can contribute to the digital transformation.

In parallel to this event, it also hosted a Conference of European Ministers in charge of social economy concluding with a joint declaration. In this declaration, the European Ministers invite the Council of the European Union and the European Commission among other things to promote the social economy during the next European Commission 2024–2029, and to appoint one of the European Commissioners with full responsibility for the social economy and implement, by 2030, the Social Economy Action Plan.

The Liège gathering reflected the importance of two of the priorities announced by the Belgian Presidency in its programme:

  • Pursuing a green and just transition
  • Reinforcing the European Union’s social and health agenda

The latter includes the strengthening of social dialogue at all levels, and reinforcing the social dimension of the European Semester, promoting a framework conducive to the development of the social economy.  The other priorities announced by the Belgian Presidency (which began on 1 January 2024 for a period of six months) are:

  • Defending rule of law, democracy and unity, which also entails considerations on the Union’s enlargement, with the Presidency committed to supporting candidate countries in their efforts
  • Strengthening the Union’s competitiveness, which involves ensuring a level playing field for businesses; a coherent, predictable and simplified regulatory framework;  an enhanced role for research, development and innovation; and a focus on public and private investments
  • Protecting people and borders, by addressing all remaining legislative files associated with the new European pact on migration and asylum
  • Promoting a more global Europe, pursuing the efforts made by the EU to strengthen its resilience and autonomy and defend its interests and values, with openness, dialogue, and cooperation at the heart of the EU’s conception of its interests.

The Belgian Presidency is coming at a particularly crucial time, with Hungary as the next Member State to take the helm of the in July, and the European Commission and Parliament’s mandates coming to an end ahead of the next European elections in June. As such, there are a number of other issues which Philea and the philanthropic sector consider particularly important. These include:


Hanna Surmatz
Head of Policy