A project of European Label for solidarity finance. State of the art in several European contries and definition of a European label and indicators.

December 2006

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Summary :

Solidarity finance is rapidly growing in some ten European countries. All solidarity finance organizations boast annual growth rates in the order of 20% and the public is joining this sector in ever growing numbers. Furthermore, in France and Belgium, criteria exist making it possible to distinguish the solidarity savings products from the traditional savings products and indicators were defined,making it possible to draw up a situation of the solidarity finance sector.

However, although these experiments are relevant, they currently suffer from a double handicap: they are sparse and are held on an insufficient scale. If solidarity finance can no longer be considered as a modest sector, it still has to cope with a lack of visibility as well at national level in the European countries as at international level as a sector.

Wiser for this observation, a number of organizations decided to join forces to establish:

· a European label for solidarity savings products to differentiate solidarity savings products from traditional savings products,

· indicators promoting increased awareness of the solidarity savings sector on an international scale.

First of all, these tools tend to enhance the clarity and visibility of solidarity savings products: criteria differentiating solidarity savings products will make it possible for savers to rapidly identify solidarity-based products among all existing financial products on the one hand, and the annual publication of indicators will provide the opportunity for the general public of becoming aware of this sector and its changes, on the other hand.

Furthermore, these tools tend to improve the area’s credibility: the development of the sale of products to which major institutional banking networks gave their seal of approval makes solidarity savings gain in reliability on the one hand, and the publication of annual indicators showing the growth of the area makes it both more attractive and professional, on the other hand.

The ambition of the ‘Fineurosol’ project ambition is to:

· list and study the most appropriate and innovative experiences in this area;

· analyse its main characteristics likely to make possible convergence and adaptation in other European Union regions;

· offer criteria to differentiate between solidarity savings products and traditional savings products, as well as indicators promoting better knowledge of this area;

· suggest procedures to select solidarity savings products and to collect data on the area of solidarity finances;

· ensure a wider dissemination and create network dynamics to promote exchanges in this respect.