Based on a report prepared by the authors for the European Commission in October, 1995, this work (currently available in Italian, forthcoming in an English edition) develops the prospects and reasoning for an expansion of the social partners involved in the development of the “third sector” (also called the “non-profit sector”, the “voluntary sector”, “social economy” and “associative economy”) within the European Union. The authors explore the possibility of “de-statalizating” this growing economic sector - which is now primarily supported through public agencies - by incorporating the active involvement of trade unions in promoting and providing for third sector services.
The authors advance the idea that the third sector would benefit significantly from the active participation of trade unions, given their vast experience and ability to mobilize and organize people, and their goal of social solidarity. In return, trade unions would profit by assuming the role of key player in the advancement of social development, thereby ensuring their continued importance and survival. Such a mutually beneficial alliance would constitute what Alexis de Tocqueville termed “the art of association”.
The book explores the development of the third sector within the post-industrial economy, and examines in particular the changes of the structural demand and the labour market. The authors illustrate the difficulties that have sometimes hindered key players in the social arena from effectively cooperating, and also point to increasing indications that a more fruitful approach is emerging in various forms within several European countries.
by Jacques Delors, former President of the European Union
CHAPTER 1: THE THIRD SECTOR
1. What is the third sector? Definitions and contents
2. The dimensions of the third sector in Europe and the United States
3. The contribution of the third sector to job creation
4. Why the third sector? An overview of the interpretative hypotheses
5. A structural approach: the third sector in the post-industrial economy
CHAPTER 2: THE TRADE UNIONS MEET THE THIRD SECTOR
1. Forms of resistance
2. Positive signals
3. The recent position of the British TUC
4. The third sector and the traditional social interests
CHAPTER 4. THE ROLE OF THE EUROPEAN UNION
1. The European Union and the potential for the third sector
2. Suggestions and proposals