Social Economy Action Plan (SEAP)
On 9 December 2021, the European Commission adopted a new action plan on the social economy.
Its goals are:
- creating the right framework conditions for the social economy to thrive
- opening up opportunities (including access to finance) and support for capacity building
- enhancing recognition of the social economy and its potential
The action plan has a time horizon until 2030, with a midterm review scheduled for 2025.
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.
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.
Youth Entrepreneurship Policy Academy (YEPA)
The Youth Entrepreneurship Policy Academy (YEPA) is a policy-learning network of 150 participants, including policymakers, youth entrepreneurship networks and organisations, social entrepreneurship networks, programme managers and researchers.
YEPA aims to strengthen youth entrepreneurship policies and programmes by raising knowledge about the barriers faced by young people in entrepreneurship and facilitating exchanges between policy makers, young entrepreneurs and experts on “what works” in youth entrepreneurship policy.
YEPA is one of the 10 key actions in the social economy action plan and it aims to raise awareness for social entrepreneurship in the broader context of fostering youth entrepreneurship. Online capacity building events are regularly organised (on access to finance, green transition…) and a specific session on social entrepreneurship will take place in October 2023. Do not hesitate to register.
In May 2021, the European Commission updated its Industrial Strategy to support the transformation to a more sustainable, digital, resilient and globally competitive economy, notably in the post-COVID-19 recovery context. Building on an ecosystem-based approach, the new updated strategy called for the involvement of stakeholders in the elaboration of transition pathways for the 14 industrial ecosystem’. Released in December 2021, the SEAP reaffirmed the ambition to launch a transition pathway for the proximity and social economy ecosystem in view of maximising the contribution of its entities to the green and digital transitions.
Following the co-creation process, the Commission released on 14 November 2022 its transition pathway for the proximity and social economy ecosystem. Building on 14 actions areas, the pathway pinpoints avenues of actions for a strengthened and more resilient social economy ecosystem in the context of the ongoing twin transition. Ranging from business-to-business collaboration and multi-stakeholder partnerships to investing in infrastructure and access to innovation and technology, the pathway puts forward a set of measures and identify the relevant actors and the time frame for such actions to be introduced.
In the framework of the co-implementation phase which started with the publication of the pathway, the Commission has launched a call for pledges aiming at collecting concrete actions social economy entities and other relevant stakeholders will undertake to help achieve the actions laid out in the pathway. Pledges will be collected and assessed on a rolling-basis. Click the button below to see the next deadline for submitting your pledges.
To support stakeholders regarding their work related to the twin transitions the European Commission will create a transition pathway platform that will facilitate exchanges with and between stakeholders. For this a new tender was launched in November 2023: "Transition pathway stakeholder support platform: implementation for the ‘proximity and social economy’ ecosystem".
Deadline for receipt of tenders: 29/01/2024 16:00 (Brussels time). For more details see here.
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:
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-ENTERPRISEec [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.
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
- March 2021European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan
Find out more about the European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan here
- 2019 - 2021Evidence 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.
- 2016Start-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
- 2015Council conclusions on social economy
- 2011Social 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?
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.
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.
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:
- On 8 February 2023, the European Committee of the Regions adopted an opinion on 'Creating an enabling environment for the social economy', underlining the strong local anchorage of the social economy.
- The European Economic and Social Committee has adopted opinions on the action plan for the social economy (2022) and on the role of social economy in the creation of jobs and in the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights (2021). The Committee also hosts the Social Economy Category, a group that has encouraged the mainstreaming of the Social Economy in the Committee's opinions and other activities, as well as initiated a number of commissioned studies on the sector.
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.