The Third Sector in Europe
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The Third Sector in Europe

Edited by Adalbert Evers and Jean-Louis Laville

This book explores Europe’s third sector – the non-profit organisations and providers of social services such as mutuals, co-operatives, associations, voluntary organisations and charities: these elements of a civil society are important yet often overlooked features in contemporary socio-economics and social policy.
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Chapter 10: The European Union and the third sector

Jacques Delors


Jacques Delors The purpose of this chapter is to confront the main hypotheses put forward in the book’s first chapter with my personal intellectual and institutional background. In the 1970s, after a close study of certain social developments in France, I put forward a number of theoretical and regulatory proposals for a legal and financial framework that could promote the development of the third sector in Europe. At a later stage, the sector often benefited from my work, as President of the European Commission between 1985 and 1995, to strengthen economic and social cohesion between regions. Nevertheless, developments at the European level have sometimes been unexpected. Without attempting to draw any lessons, I believe it would be useful to review some of the major milestones of the last two decades. THE THIRD SECTOR: A ‘PRE-CRISIS’ APPROACH I believe the term ‘third sector’ first appeared in France in grey papers in 1978. I had carried out a study for the European Commission, called ‘La création d’emplois dans le secteur tertiaire: le troisième secteur en France’ (‘Job creation in the tertiary sector: the third sector in France’), in which I analysed a large number of experiments of a cooperative and voluntary nature. One year later, in an article, ‘Pour la création d’un troisième secteur’ (‘For the creation of a third sector’), co-written with Jocelyne Gaudin, we built on the report to call for the establishment of a legal and financial framework that could promote the development of such...

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