SERRANET EEIG – A tool for social enterprise on the European scale
SerraNet EEIG – Social Enterprises' Reuse and Recycling Activities Network
The partners in the SerraNet transnational partnership (TCA 3962) have developed a model constitution for a European Economic Interest Group (EEIG), together with a guide to how to use it.
SerraNet EEIG has been founded by 14 social enterprises that are involved simultaneously in recycling electrical and electronic waste (WEEE) and in integrating disadvantaged people into the labour market. They are based in 10 towns spread across five EU Member States, from Andalucía to Lapland:
- 5 Italian (3 companies, one social co-operative and one association)
- 4 Finnish (3 social firms and one association)
- 2 French companies (both private training organisations)
- 2 Austrian non-profit companies
- 1 Spanish municipally-owned company
Why set up an EEIG?
In adopting this innovative solution for transnational work, the partners aim to strengthen the social economy by creating an adequate basis for long-term collaboration. The EEIG is seen as an efficient model both for organising the transfer of good practice on a stable basis and for implementing joint business activities in the long term. The reuse and recycling sector is a major one among social enterprises. They had previously been active in recycling all manner of household waste, but EU Directive 2002/96/EC of 27 January 2003 on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE), which makes the manufacturers responsible for disposing of used electrical and electronic products, has created a major opportunity for reintegrating disadvantaged persons in the business of dismantling, separating and recycling such waste.
Seventeen member organisations in 10 EU countries, which together represent some 40,000 individuals, have joined together to create a European federation called the Re-Use and Recycling European Union of Social Enterprises (RREUSE) http://rreuse.org. One of its achievements has been to establish a set of standards for the safe dismantling of hazardous electrical and elect-ronic waste. Dismantling by hand is not only labour intensive but is safer than mechanical shredding, which can release hazardous substances. By 2011, RREUSE had 20 member networks in the 10 countries, providing 42,000 fte jobs and in addition involving 120,000 volunteers and trainees. Annually, they divert 710,000 tonnes of waste from landfill.
The member enterprises typically achieve economic viability by combining revenue from various sources in order to achieve a number of different results. These might include:
- allowances for training disadvantaged people
- a grant to defray the administrative costs of running a labour market integration operation
- environmental protection income for reducing the use of landfill
- sale of renovated good to the public
- there may also be come element of voluntary labour, including the services of board members in managing the enterprise
RREUSE has been very effective as a vehicle for exchange and representation. However it is a non-profit association under Belgian law, and not designed to conduct commercial activities. In order to tap into the potential to sell reused and recycled products on the European scale, some RREUSE members decided to establish a commercially oriented structure. One trading activity envisaged is the creation of a wide range of products from member enterprise, and their market-ing on the European scale via the web and catalogue.
SerraNet members discussed the establishment of the EEIG at their meeting in Oulu, Finland, in August 2005, where the legal implications were explained by the lawyer Katja Leena Hasecker from Hamburg.
Provisions of the constitution
The EEIG was the first to allow trading across EU Member States without the necessity to establish a national entity in each country concerned. EEIGs are governed by Council Regulation (EEC) No 2137/85 of 25 July 1985, and SerraNet EEIG, having its registered office in Austria, is also regulated by Austrian law of 8 August 1995. EEIGs have legal personality and can trade and hold property in their own name. However they are fiscally transparent – i.e. profits, losses and the taxation on them fall on the members, not on the EEIG itself. The object of SerraNet EEIG is collaboration regarding the expansion of existing and the creation of new fields of activity for organisations and enterprises from the social economy in the environmental field. Activities may include the exchange of experience, training and lobbying, but also bidding for public contracts and grants. Among other things, its constitution provides that:
- the EEIG will initially be based in Austria
- it has no capital, and is financed by subscriptions
- members have unlimited liability for the EEIG’s debts
- new members – and associate members from outside the EU – can be admitted by agreement and may be charged an admission fee
- members can withdraw with good reason or by agreement
- members shall meet at least twice a year, and at least one of these meetings (the AGM) must be a physical meeting. any two members can convene a meeting
- the chair is elected by simple majority of members, whereas the manager and substitute manage are appointed for a two-year period by a ¾ majority
- each member has one vote, and profits and losses belong to the members in equal shares
Development Partnerships of the Transnational Cooperation Agreement:
- EcoNet Austria (TCA secretary) AT-3B-08/315
- SYTrim FI-64
- Recycling MT-2
- ECADE – Entreprendre pour l’Environnement FR-MDP-2004-43810
- Ambiente Ricicla IT-IT-G2-VEN-022
- Tandem ES-ES20040442
Founding document of SerraNet EEIG. A4 format, 15 pages. Available in German & English.
- File:SerraNet EEIG statutes.doc (15-page Word file)
- File:EEIG handbook.pdf. Handbook by European Commission, Enterprise DG, 1998, 96 pp A4 (PDF file)