On Wednesday 6 July 2022 the plenary of the European Parliament will vote the project of own initiative report on the EU Action Plan for the Social Economy (SEAP); a project prepared and approved by large majority of the members of the Parliament’s Employment and Social Affairs Committee (EMPL), and that also includes opinions from the Committees on Regional Development, and on Legal Affairs.
SEE welcomes the draft report, which includes positive input to EU Institutions, Member States and social economy stakeholders for SEAP implementation, and congratulates the MEPs that have been actively involved in drafting this INI report as the rapporteur Jordi Cañas (Renew, ES), shadows Heléne Fritizon (S&D, SE), Katrin Langensiepen (Greens, DE), Konstantinos Arvanitos (GUE/NGL, EL), and Margarita de la Pisa Carrion (ECR), alongside the rapporteurs of the opinions Niyazi Kizilyürek (GUE/NGL, CY, member of the REGI Committee), and Adrián Vázquez Lázara (Renew, ES, member of JURI Committee), among many highly engaged MEPs. SEE welcomes the efforts made by the rapporteur, who has intensively consulted with social economy stakeholders and relevant institutions.
–Strongly welcomes the proposal for a Council recommendation on social economy framework conditions to be approved in 2023; stresses that the recommendation should provide a common Union-level definition of the social economy based on its main principles and features as presented in the SEAP etc.
–Highlights current EU work to extend the taxonomy for sustainable finance to social objectives; considers that the EU taxonomy needs to be relevant from a social perspective, while at the same time taking the situation of micro-enterprises and SMEs into account, as it can be a driver for investment in the social economy if this investment is properly aligned with the principles and features of the social economy.
– Supports the Social Economy and Proximity Skills Alliance; looks forward to the forthcoming ‘Pact for Skills for the Social Economy’ to invest in these skills; and calls on the social economy stakeholders to fully align with the targets of the EPSR by making sure that at least 60 % of their employees receive training every year by 2030.
–Assess existing measures to increase citizens’ participation in social impact finance initiatives with a view to increasing the funding of social economy entities and the visibility thereof.
–Underlines the importance of the social economy in promoting gender equality and providing employment opportunities for women, in particular those in vulnerable situations; stresses that it can be an entry point that facilitates the transition from informal to formal employment; notes that women often make more than 60 % of the workforce in the social economy, and that gaps in pay and leadership have been reported to be lower.
–Welcomes the proposal to launch a new single EU Social Economy Gateway in 2023; underlines that this initiative has the potential to support social economy entities in providing important information and guidance on relevant Union funding, policies, networks and platforms as well as related initiatives.
–Notes the possibilities available under InvestEU to support the social economy; urges the Commission and the implementing partners to design financial products tailored to the needs of social economy enterprises under the Social Investment and Skills Window and to allocate sufficient resources to these products with an emphasis on projects concurrently dealing with the digital transformation and the green transition; notes that sound eligibility criteria should be developed to target financial intermediaries that specifically support the social economy and considers that advisory services should be made available under the InvestEU Advisory Hub in order to maximise the potential of these financial intermediaries to tap into the InvestEU programme; calls on the Commission to ensure that other InvestEU financial products, such as those targeting SMEs are made accessible to social economy entities.
–Acknowledges the great potential of the social economy for the creation of quality jobs and paid internships for young people, which can accelerate their integration into the labour market; encourages Member States to use funds available under the reinforced Youth Guarantee to promote social economy among the younger generation as it can enhance their integration into the labour market; welcomes the Commission’s initiative to launch a Youth Entrepreneurship Policy Academy in 2022 under the ESF+ in order to foster youth entrepreneurship and calls on the Commission to devote particular attention to social entrepreneurship
–Welcomes the Commission’s plans to consider the launch of dedicated co-investment mechanisms with foundations and philanthropic organisations for target issues such as homelessness.
-Invites the Commission, at the next revision of the General Block Exemption Regulation (GBER), to widen the scope of the Regulation and adequately take into account the specific needs of social economy entities in terms of access to finance and market development; calls on the Commission to better include social considerations in the area of State aid, such as the promotion of the recruitment of disadvantaged workers, including persons with disabilities.
–Recommends expanding the scope of the European Social Economy Regions network in order to reinforce new regional and local partnerships, and in particular to boost the digital and green transitions in territories.
-Welcomes the idea of launching a new initiative under the Single Market Programme to support the creation of partnerships between social economy entities and mainstream businesses, enabling a ‘buy social’ business-to-business market that can strengthen the social economy.
–Calls on the Commission and the European External Action Service to promote the social economy internationally and to increase the visibility of the sector in the external dimension of Union policies.
–Welcomes the announcement that a new study will be conducted to collect qualitative and quantitative information on the social economy across all Member States (…); calls on the Commission, as part of this work, to update the 2012 study on mutuals in the Union in order to identify opportunities and barriers to their development, particularly in healthcare and insurance.
–Welcomes the Commission’s work on a transition pathway for the social economy and proximity industrial ecosystems.
–Calls on the Member States to designate social economy coordinators and to set up local social economy contact points with a view to raising awareness of and facilitating access to support and funding, including EU funding; calls on the Commission to set up a single online EU platform for exchange of best practices between Member States, local and regional authorities and social economy networks, underlines that this platform needs to be managed in cooperation with European social economy networks and the Commission expert group on social economy and social enterprises (GECES).
Article by Víctor Meseguer, director of SEE.