2 June 2021

Call for Researchers for the Joint Study Group 2021 on Assessing the Job Creation Potential of Social Economy in the MENA Region

As part of the project EuroMeSCo: Connecting the Dots, co-funded by the European Union and the European Institute of the Mediterranean (IEMed), we are opening calls for researchers to take part in five different Joint Study Groups.

The EuroMeSCo Joint Study Groups 2021 will be made up of four Authors, including a Coordinator, who will jointly produce a Policy Study over a period of 6-7 months. Interested researchers may apply as Author or as Author and Coordinator to each Joint Study Group. In both cases, they will have to complete the online form and submit their application by 25 June (included).

Here is a brief description of the rationale of this Joint Study Group:

Assessing the Job Creation Potential of Social Economy in the MENA Region

Social economy has been increasingly on the spotlight over the last years. Within the EU, an action plan for social economy is expected to be released in the fourth quarter of 2021. The European Social Economy Summit (26-27 May 2021) in Manheim just confirmed how pivotal this model has become. Social economy is also seen as a promising paradigm in the MENA region and in the context of EU cooperation with its southern neighbours to boost socio-economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, social economy continues to be largely misunderstood and its strong economic potential is underestimated. The EU seems to be determined to “mainstreaming support for the social economy in regional and bilateral programmes, including support for developing adequate legal and policy frameworks, strengthening institutional capacity and enabling mutual learning” according to the recent Joint Communication on a Renewed Partnership with the Southern Neighbourhood. While several initiatives and projects have been focusing on social economy, it has attracted relatively little attention from academia and think tanks over the last years. The few studies commissioned in the context of such initiatives have mainly focused on the regulatory and legal frameworks in the MENA region, on mapping the social economy ecosystem in the region, and on the issue of access to finance.

Building on this, this study should elaborate on the job creation potential of social economy in the MENA region, with a focus on vulnerable groups, with a particular emphasis on young people. The study should examine the opportunities social economy offers for youth employment and how young people can contribute to the growth of the sector in the region. It should also feed the debate on how this sector may contribute to addressing challenges related to the size of the informal sector in many countries of the region. While doing so, it should contribute to the policy debate ahead of a possible UfM Ministerial on Employment and Labour in 2022 as well as to the bilateral exchanges of the EU with its partners on upcoming cooperation programmes in this sector. More generally, it should also contribute to mainstream the debate on social economy in the region and stress the strong potential of this sector in terms of growth.

The other four Joint Study Groups will be dealing with the following topics: Anticipating and Mitigating Side-Effects: The Road to a Successful Green Transition in the Euro-Mediterranean Region; Boosting Social Protection Reforms in the MENA Region; Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia: A Comparative Perspective on Maghreb Countries Migration Cooperation with their West African Neighbours; and Artificial Intelligence, Law Enforcement and Security Agencies in the MENA Region: Risks and Opportunities. You may apply to more than one Joint Study Group but may eventually only be selected to join one of them.

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