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Social Economy Gateway
EU initiatives

on social economy

Social Economy Action Plan (SEAP)

Council recommendation on social economy framework conditions

As part of the implementation of the action plan for the social economy, the Commission adopted a proposal for a Council recommendation on developing social economy framework conditions on 13 June 2023.

The Council formally adopted the recommendation on 27 November 2023. The final text can be accessed here.

Read more about the proposal

Proposal for a legislative initiative on cross-border activities of associations

This initiative seeks to ensure full single market freedoms for associations, simplifying their cross-EU activities and promoting their fundamental rights.

Current rules create obstacles, such as additional registrations, when associations operate across EU borders. This may distort the market for non-profit organisations, affecting the EU democratic space and the exercise of EU fundamental rights.

For background: A study on Comparative legal analysis of associations laws and regimes in the EU.

For some background information see here.

On 5 September 2023 the proposal to facilitate cross-border activities of non-profit associations in the EU has been adopted.

Public consultation: 6 September 2023 - 28 November 2023, you can share your feedback here.

Learn more

Youth Entrepreneurship Policy Academy (YEPA)

Transition pathways

Developing a “Code of Conduct for data management and data sharing in the social economy”

Call for Expression of Interest to join the drafting committee developing a  “Code of Conduct for data management and data sharing in the social economy”

One of the actions announced in the social economy action plan is to “Develop a code of conduct on data use and management in the social economy, in cooperation with stakeholders to support the uptake of data and technology”.  

This ambition was further concretised in the transition pathway for the green and digital transition of the proximity and social economy industrial ecosystem, which was released in November 2022. Among the 14 areas of shared action of ecosystem stakeholders, action area 11 “Data sharing, Data management & Code of Conduct” clarified that the Commission will facilitate to “Develop a Code of Conduct for data collection, sharing and management in the social economy to build a community of practice” (action 23). 

This call for expression of interest is the first step in the development of the Code of Conduct (CoC-SE). It aims to mobilise private and public actors to engage in this process, supported and facilitated by the European Commission services through an external contractor. 

The European Commission invites applicants to submit their interest by sending their motivation and expertise (related to the relevant criteria listed in the call) to join the drafting committee as well as their willingness to contribute voluntarily to the drafting and conceptualisation process of the CoC-SE.

Please find the call for expression of interest below with all details on the process:

Call for expression of interest

Applicants are also requested to add their CV to the application email. Please email your CV and a short motivation letter (1-2 page) to GROW-SOCIAL-ENTERPRISEatec [dot] europa [dot] eu (GROW-SOCIAL-ENTERPRISE[at]ec[dot]europa[dot]eu) by 8 December 2023, 23:59. Please address questions to the DG GROW social economy team via the same email address. 

Ongoing consultations

This section will highlight consultations conducted by the European Commission that may be relevant for stakeholders in the social economy.


Public consultation on the European Social Fund and the Youth Employment Initiative:

30 October 2023 – 9 January 2024, Learn more


Public consultation to evaluate European Labour Authority’s performance:

7 November 2023 – 5 January 2024, Learn more


Public consultation on the proposal to facilitate cross-border activities of non-profit associations in the EU:

 6 September 2023 – 28 November 2023, you can share your feedback here.

Previous policy developments

  1. March 2021
    European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan

    Find out more about the European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan here

  2. 2019 - 2021
    Evidence gathering for the Social Economy Action Plan

    The results of the evidence gathering and consultations in preparation for the action plan are summarised in the corresponding Staff Working Document.

  3. 2016
    Start-up and Scale-up initiative

    The Commission is determined to supporting social economy ecosystems. The start-up and scale-up initiativewas launched in 2016. It aims to give Europe's many innovative entrepreneurs every opportunity to become world leading companies. The main proposals of the start-up and scale-up initiative are:

    • to remove barriers for start-ups to scale up in the single market
    • to create better opportunities for partnership, commercial opportunities and skills
    • to facilitate the access to finance
  4. 2011
    Social Business Intitiative

    The social business initiative, launched in 2011, aimed to introduce a short-term action plan to support the development of social enterprises, key stakeholders in the social economy and social innovation. It also aimed to prompt a debate on the avenues to be explored in the medium/long term. It included 11 priority measures, organised around 3 themes:

    • Theme 1: Making it easier for social enterprises to obtain funding
    • Theme 2: Increasing the visibility of social entrepreneurship
    • Theme 3: Making the legal environment friendlier for social enterprises

    For more information, including the list of actions, click here.

Who is working on social economy in the EU Institutions?

European Commission

The three Commissioners who are responsible for the social economy-related matters are:

  • Nicolas Schmit, Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights
  • Thierry Breton, Commissioner for Internal Market
  • Valdis Dombrovskis, Executive Vice-President and Commissioner for an Economy that Works for People

As the Commission adopts decisions collectively, other Commissioners are involved as well.

Commissioners Schmit and Breton at SEAP launch event in December 2021
Commissioners Schmit (right) and Breton (left) at SEAP launch event in December 2021

At working level, the Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion (DG EMPL) and the Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (DG GROW) are leading the work on social economy. However, due to the transversal nature of the social economy, several other Directorate-Generals are involved.

GECES expert group

The expert group on social economy and social enterprises (GECES) advises the Commission on topics related to the social economy, raises awareness at the national level of EU actions, and promotes exchanges of best practices between Member States. The group's current mandate runs until 2024.

European Parliament

In the European Parliament, the Intergroup on Social Economy aims to ensure a permanent dialogue between the European Institutions, Member States and the social economy sector, and to mainstream the social economy perspective into the legislative and non-legislative work of the European Parliament.


The European Committee of the Regions and the European Economic and Social Committee are also involved in the work on social economy:

EU Member States

The Monitoring Committee for the Luxembourg Declaration

The Monitoring Committee was set up following the adoption of the Luxembourg declaration (“A roadmap towards a more comprehensive ecosystem for social economy enterprises”) under the Luxembourgish Presidency of the Council of the EU in 2015. It serves as an informal forum for EU ministers competent for the social economy to exchange experience and share information on respective initiatives. More countries have gradually joined the group, which today comprises 20 countries. Italy held the presidency of the Monitoring Committee in 2022, followed by Bulgaria in 2023.