Throughout Europe, Smart is a reality made of about forty offices located in nine different countries – we often say “territories” instead of “countries” to refer more genuinely to the realities and the communities in place.
Belgium and France, where Smart was initiated 22 and 12 years ago, still host the largest economic realities. However, other have developed since a few years and operate as legally independent enterprises inspired from the initial model.
The following is a tale of the process that led to the joint declaration of a “Corona plan” by Smart country offices in Europe that I had the pleasure to witness.
April 1st: In the afternoon, a press conference is organized by the Cooperative Smart in Belgium and France, in order to present the Corona Plan and to call for enhanced policy response by Governments (the previous presentation of the plan, made two weeks earlier had remained without official response).
The press conference (here on Youtube) was also followed live by all the Smart international partners, who had previously read the contents of the Corona Plan published on the Smart website (here in French).
At the end of this conference, a first version of the Plan was drafted at the initiative of the office in Milan, who had been witnessing the effects of COVID-19 and of measures adopted by Government on its members since a few weeks already.
April 2 : a final version of the document is written, taking into account the observations of each other Smart entity, under the pen of the office of Berlin.
April 3: the final document, in English, is published on the “Smart International COVID” intranet.
In the afternoon the announcement of “An ambitious solidarity project: Smart launches the Corona Plan” is published by various Smart offices in Europe and disseminated through their respective website and social communication channels.
The different linguistic versions of the document and its flavours of implementing measures further adopted by each Smart are to be found here:
Milano, Roma :
Madrid, Barcelona, Sevilla, Granada :
The whole involvement of Smart in the process does not start nor finishes here:
- Although the timeline above starts with the Press conference held on the 1st of April, signals of the impact suffered by members due to the measures of containment imposed by Government started to be noticed earlier: first in Italy, then in Spain and in Germany and in other countries. We like to think that, beyond the size of individual entities, these contributed to provide some sense and design the concrete measures of response further adopted by Smart
- Surveys aimed at better understanding and monitoring the local situation, including existing forms of support accessible to members are still on-going at the time this article is being written, as part of the advisory function implemented by Smart throughout Europe (more on this soon to be published in Kronik).
To conclude, I like to see the adoption of that document as a sign of a vision shared across borders.
Will it hold beyond intentions? Sure the implementation of the plan will have to adapt to each territorial reality and, given our own capacity and the magnitude of the crisis, additional support will have to be sought locally to implement the needed measures of support and rehabilitation.
Through the Plan, Smart firmly intends to continue:
- facilitating forms of mutual assistance between members, seeking enhanced forms of collaboration with public and private institutions, clients and other partners;
- sharing resources and knowledge, engaging in a broad collective reflection on new economic, commercial and redistributive models, as well as on forms of workers’ protection that go beyond their contractual framework.
so that, together, we can come up with effective solutions and concrete policies inspired by cooperation and solidarity at an international level – in Europe and beyond.
Of course time will tell: in the meantime together we feel (and are) stronger.