Skip to main content
European Commission logo
EU Social Economy Gateway
Visual European Single Market Programme
The European Single Market Programme

Overall budget available

The total budget of the programme is €4.2 billion.

What is the goal of the funding programme?

The Single Market Programme (SMP) funds activities that support the good functioning and governance of the EU internal single market. In the 2021-2027 programming period, the programme focuses on Europe’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

How is the funding programme structured?

The SMP consolidates a large range of activities that were previously financed separately, into one programme.

The SMPs main activities include

  • Financing mechanisms that allow individuals, consumers and business representatives to contribute to decision-making processes.
  • Gathering data, analyzing it, conducting studies and evaluations in support of effective enforcement and modernization of the EU legal framework.
  • Capacity-building activities and facilitation of joint actions between EU countries, their competent authorities, the European Commission and decentralised EU agencies.
  • Strengthening the exchange and dissemination of expertise and knowledge.
  • Setting common European standards.

The programme is implemented through:

  • Grants
  • Purchasing services
  • Financial instruments

What thematic areas are covered

The SMP pools activities and provide a financing framework to support the following key objectives:

  • Food safety: Ensuring a safe and sustainable food chain
  • Consumer protection: Ensuring a high level of consumer protection, product safety and a stronger voice for consumers
  • Support to small and medium-sized businesses: Strengthening the competitiveness and sustainability of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)
  • A more effective single market: Making the internal market work better with improved market surveillance, problem-solving support to citizens and business, and enhanced competition policy
  • High quality European statistics: Producing and disseminating high quality European statistics
  • Effective European standards: Developing effective European standards and international financial and non-financial reporting and auditing standards

Zoom on the SME window

The SME support pillar of the programme provides different types of support to businesses and specially to SMEs. The general objective is to boost their competitiveness and sustainability. Specific objectives of the programme include:

  • Facilitating access to markets.
  • Promoting entrepreneurship and the acquisition of entrepreneurial skills.
  • Promoting the modernisation of industry and addressing global and societal challenges

What is in it for the social economy?

The SMP is destined to European SMEs with a primary goal of improving competitiveness in Europe. This programme is therefore addressing the SME landscape generally, but, interestingly, in recent years, the programme has put an increasing stress on boosting entrepreneurship that seeks a positive social impact, sustainability and resilience.

Social economy businesses may therefore benefit from an array of SMP funding opportunities, spanning from helping them scale up and accessing more or new markets to promoting social entrepreneurial skills. Additionally, through the SMP, social economy businesses are supported to scale up and create joint initiatives with mainstream businesses and public authorities (through Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs, the Joint Clusters initiatives, the Social Economy Clusters or else the Social Economy Missions) as well as greening and digitising the ecosystem through transnational cooperation.

Zooming in Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs:

Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs  is a cross-border programme promoting the exchange of entrepreneurial and management experience. The exchange entails a newly established or potential entrepreneur visiting another country to learn from an experienced entrepreneur running a SME. Between 2009 and 2022, more than 10.7k exchanges have been established. Only organisations willing to coordinate exchanges can respond to calls for proposals (if successful, they are called Intermediary Organisations or in short IOs). Individual entrepreneurs who wish to participate in the programme should do so by applying directly to the Intermediary Organisations or local contact points in their country.

Who is eligible to apply?

The SMP offers funding to:

  • Civil society organisations and SMEs
  • Local, regional, or national authorities
  • Educational institutions

Eligible countries:

  • EU Member States
  • Iceland
  • Norway
  • Lichtenstein

Acceding countries, candidate countries and potential candidates:

  • Kosovo
  • Montenegro
  • Serbia
  • Türkiye
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • North Macedonia
  • Ukraine

How to apply?

EISMEA and DG GROW give organisations the opportunity to bid for grants through calls for proposals. Organisations interested in the SME support pillar of the SMP can respond to the calls for proposals and tenders that are launched via the EC Funding & Tenders Portal.

Where to find more information?

Below, you can find some links on specific activities that can benefit to social economy organisations:

The European Cluster Collaboration Platform & Social Economy Clusters:

The European Cluster Collaboration Platform is the European online hub for industry clusters. The social economy clusters or “Clusters of social and ecological innovation” are “Groups of social economy enterprises and other related supporting and economic actors that cooperate in a particular location to increase their joint social and ecological impact by enhancing their cooperation, pooling resources and innovation capacity.”

The European Social Economy Regions & the Social Economy Missions:

Launched in February 2018, the European Social Economy Regions (ESER) initiative was a response of the EC to the growing need of increasing the visibility of the social economy and building networks of stakeholders at regional and local levels. Between 2018 and 2020 EISMEA ran an annual ESER scheme, which was based on a series of awareness-raising events on the social economy being rolled-out in the course of the year in participating regions and cities. The EC was not, however, providing any financial support to regional/local events.

How to contact organisations who manage the programme?

Calls for proposals and for tenders are published and managed centrally by EISMEA (and DG GROW), available here.

Organisations who provide support

Your national or regional authorities, networks, and incubators are the best entry points to access tailor-made information regarding your needs.

Background information

History of the programme

The Single Market Programme (SMP) brings together several activities that were previously financed through different programmes:

  • The European Statistical Programme (ESP)
  • Reporting and Auditing.
  • Moreover, it is enhancing consumers’ involvement in EU policymaking in the fields of Financial Services, Food and Feed and Consumer Programmes.

Responsible Directorate-General in the European Commission

The single market programme is led by Directorate-General Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (GROW). The European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency (EISMEA) is associated for the implementation of the programme.