Ladies and gentlemen, social entrepreneurs,
I am delighted to welcome you as patron of the European Social Economy Summit 2021. This summit was actually supposed to have taken place last year already during the German Presidency of the Council of the EU. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, unfortunately, you had to reschedule this summit. This pandemic has shown us in many ways what is really important in life: human interaction, social contacts, being there for each other.
For you as employees and entrepreneurs in the social economy, this is exactly what your profession and your vocation is all about. It is also thanks to your contribution that no-one is let down or left behind in Europe. And one thing is clear: there is no such thing as a uniform social economy in Europe. In Germany, for over 150 years, non-profit voluntary welfare organisations have been characteristic of our welfare state. Their facilities and services employ around 1.4 million paid professionals. Another 2.5 to 3 million people contribute on a voluntary basis – for the sake of good social cooperation in our country.
But: voluntary welfare organisations are not alone. In the social economy, they have got important innovative allies. Whether it is a traditional association, a long-standing social enterprise or a young Berlin social start-up: they all help advance our country and improve the lives of many. For you it is not profits that count most, but human beings, including their wishes and needs.
I would like to thank you very much for your commitment. And please rest assured: the German Federal Government will continue to support you in your valuable work. I would like to thank the European Commission for the initiative to organise this conference. And I thank you, Lord Mayor Kurz, and your team, for making this conference possible under difficult conditions.
I wish you two exciting days with many new insights in virtual Mannheim. I wish you every success!
Your Juliane Seifert