In April 2013, the European Commission asked the consultants ICF and the UK law firm Bates Wells Braithwaite to undertake a study to map the shape and nature of social enterprise activity in 29 European countries as part of its flagship ‘Social Business Initiative’.
The idea of an association of European social enterprise legal practitioners developed naturally from the mapping study, as it became clear that no such network of legal experts existed. At a roundtable event of social enterprise legal experts hosted by the European Economic and Social Committee in Brussels in January 2015, it was agreed that ESELA should be established.
Our initial board is comprised of Luke Fletcher (chair), Anne Contreras, Roberto Randazzo, Alissa Pelatan, Marleen Denef and Andrea Schoeneberg, who are social enterprise legal experts from the UK, Luxembourg, Italy, France, Belgium and Germany respectively.
In March 2017, the decision was taken that the scope of interest of ESELA should be expanded to include the following:
• monitor social enterprise legal developments in Europe and beyond
• produce and exchange resources on social enterprise and the law
• undertake and publish research and analysis on social enterprise legal issues
• inform policy and legal development with respect to social enterprise
• host and organise debates, presentations, conferences and other events
• work with partners on projects related to law and social enterprise
We hope to play a key role in the development of the social enterprise economy across Europe. ESELA has the potential to be an important source of knowledge and expertise that can highlight and share good practice, help member states learn from each other and make recommendations about the effect of EU wide laws and policies on social enterprises.
If you’d like to know more about ESELA and its work, we’d be delighted to hear from you, particularly if your organisation is interested in creating partnerships and collaborating with us.