Read the Declaration
Belgrade Declaration is based on the principals of the Strasbourg Declaration adopted on January 17th 2014 at the participatory event on social entrepreneurship “Social entrepreneurs: Have Your Say!” co-hosted by the European Economic and Social Committee and the European Commission. The initiative came out from conference participants that believe that Western Balkan and Turkey civil society organizations have to advocate towards EU institutions with the aim to ensure that Balkan countries become an integral part of wider EU strategies on social entrepreneurship development. The declaration will serve as starting point for further advocacy activities of Balkan social entrepreneurship actors.
With a wish to make a contribution to the development of the region of the Western Balkans and Turkey, which faces serious social and economic problems (poverty, inequality, unemployment, social exclusion, etc), through the BELGRADE DECLARATION ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP we want to point out to the decision-makers both in the EU and the countries of the Western Balkans and Turkey the necessary steps to take which will contribute to the development of social economy as a relevant model for the socially sustainable development of the entire region.
Social enterprises come in many shapes and sizes and take different legal forms across Europe. As stated in the European Commission’s Social Business Initiative (SBI), they have the following common characteristics:
- Earning income by trading
- Having a social or societal objective of the common good as the reason for their economic activity, often in the form of a high level of social innovation
- Profits being mainly reinvested with a view to achieving this social objective
- A method of organization or ownership system reflecting their mission, using democratic governance or participatory principles or focusing on social justice.
As civil society organizations that actively promote and support the regional EU accession process, we deeply believe in the principles adopted within the Strasbourg Declaration, defining the priorities and recommendations for the actions on behalf of the EU and the European Parliament aimed at the further development of social entrepreneurship. We believe that the Strasbourg Declaration should represent a starting point for the key national policies in the area of social entrepreneurship development in the countries of the Western Balkans and Turkey.
We deeply believe that our region requires a new model of economic and social development, one that would be more just, more inclusive and more sustainable. Being aware of our civil responsibility, we have come together in our countries as well as connected ourselves regionally by adopting the BELGRADE DECLARATION ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP IN THE REGION OF THE WESTERN BALKANS AND TURKEY, in order to invite the institutions of the European Union as well as the institutions in the countries of the Western Balkans and Turkey to take responsibility and actively engage in the development of social entrepreneurship.
We wish to influence the European Union, the Western Balkans countries and Turkey to engage more forcefully, at all levels, in the creation of measures, policies and financial instruments that will support the making of a favorable eco-system for the development of social economy across the region of the Western Balkans and Turkey.
As relevant partners, we want to help the decision-makers in the EU, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia, Serbia and Turkey to implement the following goals that will contribute to the development of social entrepreneurship:
- The European Union, the Western Balkans countries and Turkey should ensure that their commitment to create a favorable eco-system for the development of social entrepreneurship is mainstreamed in their policies. There must be a stronger engagement at the EU, national, regional and local levels in partnership with the social enterprise sector in the co-creation of new policies to support social entrepreneurship, suited to the local context.
- It is necessary for the Western Balkans countries and Turkey to define and adopt in partnership with the civil society organizations and other key players sets of clear and feasible action guidelines for the development of social economy, coordinated with the EU policies in this area.
- It is necessary to stimulate partnerships between states, regional and local authorities, civil society organizations, businesses, economic entities and other key players in the area of social entrepreneurship. It is also necessary to strengthen the capacities of social enterprises and other key players that have a role in the development of social entrepreneurship, as well as to stimulate the exchange of information and knowledge.
- In partnership with the social enterprise sector, the states, as well as regional and local authorities, must fully support the growth of social enterprises, help them build capacities and enable cooperation and exchange of information and knowledge. For example, through the creation of favorable eco-system, access to finance, business start-up and development support, training and education, and facilitating preference in public procurements.
- It is necessary that the EU provide financial support to social enterprises across the region through different funds and other financial measures, particularly within the IPA funds, thereby not limiting its support to the structural funds accessible only to the EU member states. The EU accession process represents an important opportunity to promote and develop social entrepreneurship in the Western Balkans countries and Turkey.