Co-ops respond to EU’s plans to boost its social economy

Spcial Economy Europe, Euricse and Cooperatives Europe are among the organisations which helped develop the pathway

Co-op organisations have welcomed the European Commission’s Transition Pathway on Proximity and Social Economy , released last month with a set of 30 actions in 14 different areas.

The pathway, which aims to support the social economy entities and small local businesses in their efforts to become greener and more digital, was delivered under the Industrial Strategy Update and co-created with social economy actors.

The 30 actions proposed include measures to enable social economy entities to improve their energy efficiency, encourage public authorities to support the creation of local green deals, and support the development of a code of conduct on data transparency for social economy entities and local businesses.

The Commission also launched an open call for pledges, inviting all relevant stakeholders to present their concrete commitments and to express interest in working together on the implementation of the EU’s social economy and local businesses transition pathway by 28 February. 

Social Economy Europe said it was “honoured” to have contributed to the co-creation of the pathway, alongside other social economy actors, such as the European Research Institute on Cooperative and Social Enterprises (Euricse).

One of the first businesses to make pledges was the Mondragon Corporation, based in the Basque Country, Spain. The co-op’s commitments include becoming carbon neutral in all production facilitates by 2030 and a 25% reduction in carbon footprint in its value chain.

Cooperatives Europe, a cross-sectoral organisation representing co-ops which also contributed to the Pathway, said it was “pleased by the thorough consultation process the Commission had foreseen”.

Measures successfully proposed by Cooperatives Europe include the use of sandboxes for experimentation of green or digital innovations; Tech for Good and pilots; fiscal incentivisation to foster innovation uptake and the dissemination of good practices in this area; and better leveraging of the European Digital Innovation Hubs (EDIH) network and its tools.

At the launch, the apex made its own commitments to work on the issue of skills mismatch both in the green and digital transitions.

Cooperatives Europe’s president Susanne Westhausen said: The transition pathway was an important deliverable of the social economy action plan, and we are pleased to see the outcome of months of co-creation. Co-operatives Europe will work in collaboration with other stakeholders for the success of this instrument that will help co-operatives and social economy organisations to be drivers of a fair, inclusive, and sustainable twin transition.”