A European Action Plan for the Social Economy

In 2016, the European Commission adopted the Start-up and Scale-up Initiative containing a section on social economy and social enterprises. On that basis, in 2017 and 2018, the Commission has set up and implemented a series of actions for the social economy and social enterprises, structured in five pillars (image above). In this context, social economy representative organisations, led by Social Economy Europe; the European Parliament’s Social Economy Intergroup; the European Economic and Social Committee; and an important number of Member States called on the European Commission to take a step forward towards a European Action Plan for the social economy.

How it started

In 2018, Social Economy Europe elaborated a policy proposal for a European public policy covering the whole social economy.

We believe that a European Action Plan for the social economy, with a proposed duration of 5 years (2021-2026), can be a key tool to systematically incorporate the social economy into the different socio-economic policies of the European Union, as well as into its actions to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Euopean Commission has announced a European Action Plan for the Social Economy which is being prepared now and will be launched in autumn 2021!

Our proposal for a social economy action plan


Recognise the social economy as a transversal actor in the main socio-economic policies of the European Union


Promote the convergence and coordination of the different public authorities involved in the promotion of the social economy by defining strategic objectives and benchmarks at EU level


Foster a conducive ecosystem for the growth of the social economy, improving its contribution to key EU objectives and allowing social economy enterprises to take full advantage of the single market, EU funds and financial instruments

In line with these three objectives, this policy proposal includes 20 policy measures and 64 actions structured in seven pillars:

Why do we need an EU Action Plan for the social economy?

Background to the European Action Plan on the Social Economy

In our Memorandum for the 2014 European Elections, we called on EU Institutions to define a European Action Plan for the social economy.

We proposed to work together with the EU institutions to define this public policy for the development of the social economy sector, to promote social economy and social economy enterprises and to streamline EU policies to provide clarity for the social economy sector.

The rationale was that an Action Plan would enable social economy actors to actively participate in the development of EU policies with impact on job creation, entrepreneurship, social cohesion, territorial development, social inclusion and business development.

Since 2015, the Social Economy Intergroup and several Member States actively supported this proposal of European Action Plan for the Social Economy, in October 2016 the GECES report ‘Social Enterprises and the Social Economy’ going forward also argued for it.

In 2017, thanks to the support of 39 MEPs from different European political groups, a debate on the proposal for a European Action Plan for the Social Economy was held at the plenary of the European Parliament. Nine MEPs intervened, as well as Vera Jourova, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality represented the European Commission.

On 24th October 2017, the bureau of the European Parliament’s Social Economy Intergroup – formed by MEPs Jens Nilsson (S&D, SE), Ramón Luis Valcárcel (EPP, ES), Marie-Christine Vergiat (GUE/NGL, FR), Sven Giegold (GREENS/EFA, DE) Sofía Ribeiro (EPP, PT) and Elena Gentile (S&D, IT) – met European Commission Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investments and Competitiveness, Jyrki Katainen, and Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Mariane Thyssen.

Social Economy Europe also participated in the meeting through SEE President, Juan Antonio Pedreño, and SEE Director Víctor Meseguer as the secretariat of the Social Economy Intergroup.

During the meeting, Social Economy Europe was invited by Jens Nilsson MEP, Co-President of the Intergroup to produce a document on the future of the EU policies for the social economy to be delivered to Vice-President Jyrki Katainen and Commissioners Thyssen and Bieńkowska in the beginning of 2018.

As a reply to this request, in 2018 SEE presented its policy paper on The Future of EU policies for the Social Economy: towards a European Action Plan that defines a series of axes and actions that may serve as a basis for elaborating a European Action Plan for the social economy. 

The proposals are the result of a consultation process in which Social Economy Europe members actively participated. They also  take into account the important work that has been carried out by all EU institutions, particularly by the European Commission, in recent years to support the development of the social economy.

We're working on a new policy proposal for the Action Plan with SEE members
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