Social Economy is a major reality of the European social and economic landscape.  

Therefore, EU institutions have launched a variety of initiatives and official documents (more than 170 since 2000), recognising the importance of the Social Economy  for quality jobs creations, social inclusion, entrepreneurship promotion, access to social services of general interest, social and environmental innovation, the European Social model and social cohesion.

Social Economy Europe works on integrating social economy model into the EU policies and programmes. Social Economy enterprises and organisations should be promoted because their fundamentral contribution to  the implementation several key EU objectives, suach as quality employment creation and retention, sustainable and inclusive growth, social cohesion, social innovation, promotion of an entrepreneurial culture, environmental protection etc.  

The European Commission


The social economy is directly taken into account by the European Commission’s Directorate General Growth, Internal Market, Entrepreneurship and SME’s.

Within the last EU Commission mandate, DG Internal Market and Services, now DG Growth, integrated the social economy in the context of its work on "Business environment" - more specifically on the "Social Business Initiative" - and on Investment Funds - particularly on Social Investment Funds.Other initiatives, such as the reform of the Public Procurement directive, were very much welcome by social economy enterprises and organisations, because of the inclusion in the new rules of social and environmental clauses and criteria.

Currently, Social Economy Europe asks the European  Commission to launch an Actional Plan to further promote the whole Social Economy across the European Union: a Social Economy Initiative. The European Commission should have a holistic approach to promote all social economy enterprises and organisations: cooperatives, mutual societies, associations, foundations, as well as newer forms like social enterprises. 

DG Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion

DG Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion  works on issues related to social economy in the framework of "Europe 2020” to create the conditions to a smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, and setting up of the European platform against poverty.


Supporting information:

DG Growth website on social economy in the EU

The European Parliament

The European Parliament is the only directly-elected body of the European Union.

The 8th European Parliament decided to re-launch the Social Economy Intergroup, supported by more than 80 MEPs from 6 political groups (EPP, S&D, ALDE, GUE/NGL, GREENS/EFA, and ECR). This wide backing from the main European political families represents a strong support from the European Parliament to the social economy sector, and to its capacity to create sustainable and inclusive growth, jobs and social cohesion in the EU.

In February 2009, the European Parliament adopted a Resolution on social economy with 580 votes in favour. This text is a key element for the recognition of the social economy and social economy entreprises in the European Union.

On 10th March 2011, the European Parliament adopted a declaration on establishing European statutes for mutual societies, associations and foundations.

Presidencies of the Council of the European Union

Social Economy has been among the political priorities of several Presidencies of the Council of the European Union. 

In the second semester 2014 the Italian Presidency of the Council of the EU, organised the Rome Conferenece aiming to unlock the potential of the Social Economy for EU growth. The Rome Strategy was the fundmental outcome of this conferenece. The Rome Strategy  is a key document with important policy recommendation to EU institutions in order to further promote the Social Economy sector. 

European Economic and Social Committee

The presence of the Various Interests Group, alongside the Employers’ Group and the Employees’ Group, ensures that the Committee is able to give full voice to the concerns of the various social, occupational, economic and cultural organisations that make up civil society.

The unique feature which forges Group III’s identity is the wide range of categories represented within its ranks: its members are drawn from farmers’ organisations, small businesses, the crafts sector, the professions, cooperatives and non-profit associations, consumer organisations, environmental organisations, associations representing the family, persons with disabilities, the scientific and academic community and non-governmental organisations.

Social Economy category

The Social economy category brings together 35 members (34 of whom belong to Group III and 1 to Group I) from cooperatives, mutuals, associations, foundations and social NGOs. Its two Co-spokespersons are: Krzysztof Balon, member President of the Council of Working Community Associations of Social Organisations, and Alain Coheur, responsible for European and international relations in Solidaris (the Belgian National Union of Socialist Mutual Health Funds) and vice-president of Social Economy Europe.

Group III´s Social economy category represents a significant part of civil society and, together with other members and categories, it works towards a more democratic, social and competitive Europe.

Supporting information:

EESC recommendations on Social Enterprise

GECES (European Commission experts group on social entrepreneurship)

Created by the SBI, the GECES  is an important consultative body of the European Commission, in the field of social economy enterprises. 

Again, Social Economy Europe asks the European  Commission to have a holistic approach to the whole Social Economy. Social entrepreneurship is an important and fundamental part of the European Social Economy. However, social economy enterprises and organisations are a diverse reality (going far beyond social entrepreneurship). 

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