Brussels, 20 January 2009
Today President Barroso met social innovation experts and stakeholders in Brussels, following a workshop organised by the Bureau of European Policy Advisers (BEPA) on social innovation. The objective of the meeting was to explore ways to boost the social innovation dimension of the Renewed Social Agenda with which the Barroso Commission has put Social Europe back at the heart of its policies. Commissioners Špidla and Hübner also participated in the workshop.
President Barroso said: "The financial and economic crisis makes creativity and innovation in general and social innovation in particular even more important to foster sustainable growth, secure jobs and boost competitiveness. This meeting contributed to shape our collective thinking on how social innovation can be promoted at all levels for the benefit of our citizens and societies."
Social innovation means the design and implementation of creative ways of meeting social needs. It covers a wide field ranging from new models of childcare to web-based social networks, from the delivery of healthcare at home to new ways of encouraging people to use sustainable means of transport. Social innovation can help in the development of better models of eldercare, or in finding new ways to change work and travel habits to cut carbon emissions, or new ways to accompany and support young people in their transition to adulthood. Europe has a great tradition of social innovation and a wealth of civic organisations and social entrepreneurs. Examples of social innovation highlighted during the meeting are an initiative which creates local partnerships to reintegrate socially excluded, homeless or those released from prisons, or leaving orphanage; a European initiative among local authorities, business circles and private initiatives to help young adults without a qualification to reintegrate into a learning and work pathway; a community which has welcomed and rehabilitated socially marginalised individuals and drug addicts.
Following the workshop, the Commission intends to continue to support social innovation through various programmes, in particular the structural funds, and will encourage the creation of networks for further reflection and the exchange of good practice.
The Renewed Social Agenda, launched by the Barroso Commission on 2 July 2008, represents a new commitment to social Europe and consists of an integrated approach bringing together various policies. It seeks to empower and equip Europeans to deal with rapidly changing realities shaped by globalisation, technological progress, ageing societies and help those who have difficulties coping with these changes (see IP/08/1070).
Annex: List of external participants:
 Country of affiliation