Social economy organisations draw up wishlist for Europe’s sectoral plan

The European Commission is engaging with social economy networks to find out what they expect from the Action Plan

Social Economy Europe has published a policy paper that includes the sector’s main priority areas ahead of the release of the European Action Plan for the Social Economy.

Due to be unveiled in the final quarter of 2021, the plan will incorporate the social economy into the different socio-economic policies of the EU, and its work on the Sustainable Development Goals.

Social Economy Europe’s policy paper highlights seven priority areas for EU intervention including a common understanding of the social economy in the EU, improving the visibility of the social economy and its socio-economic contribution, and expanding access to finance and EU funding.

Other priorities are boosting access to markets for the social economy in the single market, promoting the sector at global level as a driver for the implementation of the SDGs, including social economy employers in the EU inter-sectorial social dialogue, and following up on the implementation of the Action Plan.

In addition to the seven priority areas, the policy paper includes 51 concrete proposals and an analysis on the added value of social economy to build back better and contribute to the green and digital transitions and to the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights. The paper also provides an overview of EU policies for the social economy since the recognition of co-operatives in the Treaty of Rome (1957).

SEE president Juan Antonio Pedreño said: “This is the beginning of a new era of EU policies for the social economy. This is a key year to define the collective future of the social economy and make sure that we build back better.

“I have no doubt; there is light at the end of the tunnel. We have new opportunities with the Action Plan, the Next Generation EU and the new Multiannual Financial Framework (the EU’s long-term budget). In this context, co-operation and coordination is needed to achieve our common objectives. We are and have always been stronger together.”

The policy paper was elaborated by Social Economy Europe in co-operation with its 17 members, which include co-operative apexes.

The European Commission is currently engaging with social economy networks, stakeholders and public authorities to find out what they expect from the Action Plan. The Commission is gathering inputs and proposals via a consultation that will be open until 26 April.

Social Economy Europe is encouraging all its members and the wider social economy community to actively participate in the consultation to help shape the future of EU policies for the social economy.

The EU is home to two million social economy enterprises, which represent 10% of all businesses in the region. They include co-operatives, mutual societies, non-profit associations, foundations and social enterprises. The sector plays an important role, employing the equivalent of approximately 6.3% of the working population of the EU-28, and generating 4 % of the Union’s GDP (based on 2015 data which included the UK).

The Commission says the Action Plan could generate added value through a more simplified and coordinated framework for social enterprises and mutual societies  operating in the single market.