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Procedure : 2021/2179(INI)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A9-0192/2022

Texts tabled :

A9-0192/2022

Debates :

PV 05/07/2022 - 9
CRE 05/07/2022 - 9

Votes :

PV 06/07/2022 - 11.10

Texts adopted :

P9_TA(2022)0288

Texts adopted
PDF 177kWORD 67k
Wednesday, 6 July 2022 - Strasbourg
EU action plan for the social economy
P9_TA(2022)0288A9-0192/2022

European Parliament resolution of 6 July 2022 on the EU action plan for the social economy (2021/2179(INI))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the European Pillar of Social Rights (EPSR),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 9 December 2021 entitled ‘Building an economy that works for people: an action plan for the social economy’ (COM(2021)0778),

–  having regard to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), signed and ratified by the EU and all its Member States, and in particular Article 27 thereof on work and employment,

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 3 March 2021 entitled ‘Union of Equality: Strategy for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2021-2030’ (COM(2021)0101),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 7 October 2020 entitled ‘A Union of Equality: EU Roma strategic framework for equality, inclusion and participation’ (COM(2020)0620) and the Council recommendation of 12 March 2021 on Roma equality, inclusion and participation (2021/C 93/01),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 2 June 2021 entitled ‘Economic policy coordination in 2021: overcoming COVID-19, supporting the recovery and modernising our economy’ (COM(2021)0500),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 22 November 2016 entitled ‘Europe’s next leaders: the Start-up and Scale-up Initiative’ (COM(2016)0733),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 25 October 2011 entitled ‘Social Business Initiative – Creating a favourable climate for social enterprises, key stakeholders in the social economy and innovation’ (COM(2011)0682),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 23 February 2004 on the promotion of cooperative societies in Europe (COM(2004)0018),

–  having regard to the European Skills Agenda for sustainable competitiveness, social fairness and resilience of 1 July 2020,

–  having regard to Directive 2014/24/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 February 2014 on public procurement(1) (Public Procurement Directive),

–  having regard to the Porto Social Commitment, signed by the Portuguese Presidency of the Council, the President of the European Parliament and representatives of the social partners and civil society organisations,

–  having regard to the Porto Declaration of 8 May 2021, approved by the European Council,

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 7 December 2015 on ‘The promotion of the social economy as a key driver of economic and social development in Europe’,

–  having regard to the European Economic and Social Committee’s opinion of 19 January 2022 entitled ‘Innovative financial instruments as part of the development of social impact companies’,

–  having regard to the European Economic and Social Committee opinion of 27 April 2021 entitled ‘The role of social economy in the creation of jobs and in the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights’,

–  having regard to the European Economic and Social Committee opinion of 22 September 2016 entitled ‘The External Dimension of the Social Economy’,

–  having regard to the European Economic and Social Committee opinion of 23 December 2009 on the ‘Diverse forms of enterprise’ (2009/C 318/05),

–  having regard to the Committee of the Regions opinion of 1 July 2021 entitled ‘An Action Plan for the Social Economy’ (CDR 5860/2020),

–  having regard to the European Commission and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) policy brief of 2022 entitled ‘Making the Most of the Social Economy’s Contribution to the Circular Economy,

–  having regard to the Guidelines for Local Governments on Policies for Social and Solidarity Economy published by the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development in 2021,

–  having regard to its position at first reading of 4 April 2019 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+)(2),

–  having regard to its resolution of 17 February 2022 with recommendations to the Commission on a statute for European cross-border associations and non-profit organisations(3),

–  having regard to its resolution of 16 September 2021 on fair working conditions, rights and social protection for platform workers – new forms of employment linked to digital development(4),

–  having regard to its resolution of 7 July 2021 on an old continent growing older – possibilities and challenges related to ageing policy post-2020(5),

–  having regard to its resolution of 11 February 2021 on the Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions European Skills Agenda for sustainable competitiveness, social fairness and resilience(6),

–  having regard to its resolution of 23 October 2018 on the role of employee financial participation in creating jobs and reactivating the unemployed(7),

–  having regard to its resolution of 24 November 2020 on tackling homelessness rates in the EU(8),

–  having regard to its resolution of 5 July 2018 with recommendations to the Commission on a Statute for social and solidarity-based enterprises(9),

–  having regard to its resolution of 10 September 2015 on Social Entrepreneurship and Social Innovation in combating unemployment(10),

–  having regard to its resolution of 2 July 2013 on the contribution of cooperatives to overcoming the crisis(11),

–  having regard to its resolution of 2 July 2013 on the proposal for a Council regulation on the Statute for a European Foundation(12),

–  having regard to its resolution of 14 March 2013 with recommendations to the Commission on the Statute for a European mutual society(13),

–  having regard to its resolution of 20 November 2012 entitled ‘Social Business Initiative – Creating a favourable climate for social enterprises, key stakeholders in the social economy and innovation’(14),

–  having regard to its resolution of 19 February 2009 on Social Economy(15),

–  having regard to its resolution of 13 March 1987 on non-profit-making associations in the European Communities(16),

–  having regard to Rule 54 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the opinion of the Committee on Regional Development,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (A9-0192/2022),

A.  whereas the social economy encompasses diverse types of private entity independent of public authorities, such as cooperatives, mutual societies, associations (including charities), foundations, social enterprises and other legal formats, all characterised by different operating and organisational principles and features such as the primacy of people as well as social and environmental purposes over profit, the reinvestment of most profits/surpluses in the sustainability of the entity and the general interest of providing goods and services to their members or society at large, and democratic or participatory governance;

B.  whereas, although there is a need for comparable data collection mechanisms on the social economy sector in EU countries, the social economy is said to account for 2,8 million entities in the European Union and employ around 13,6 million workers (between 0,6 and 9,9 % of the workforce, depending on the country) according to the SEAP; whereas the number of social economy entities and the employment rate in the sector in the EU varies depending on the definition of social economy entity, estimates and national statistics; whereas more than a third of paid jobs in the social economy sector are in the social services sector; whereas the social economy offers untapped job creation potential and is an important tool for fighting social exclusion and poverty, not least through active employment initiatives put in place in several Member States, such as zero long-term unemployment territories, whereas the Commission should list and map current initiatives in order to have a better understanding of their functioning and efficiency, and to share best practices with Member States;

C.  whereas the principal of subsidiarity is one of the cornerstones for the functioning of the European Union; whereas the social economy is one of the best examples of its application;

D.  whereas the social economy has played an important role in mitigating and addressing the short- and long-term impacts of COVID-19 on the EU’s social market, society and economy, and has driven and contributed to social and economic resilience thanks to the sustainability of this model;

E.  whereas the social economy contributes to and benefits from well-functioning welfare systems; whereas, however, it is the state and public authorities which have the ultimate responsibility for ensuring universal, affordable and equal access of citizens to a high standard of public services and welfare; whereas social economy organisations play a complementary role, and should continue to do so, but are not replacements for the provision of frontline services by state or regional public bodies;

F.  whereas social economy entities demonstrated great resilience and innovation in the face of adversity but faced difficulties during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as drops in activity, limited cash reserves, or the need to take their business activity online;

G.  whereas the new environmental, economic and social challenges that have been made more urgent by the pandemic have encouraged deeper reflection about the role of the social economy;

H.  whereas social economy entities have a long, yet heterogeneous history in the majority of Member States, most of which have adopted specific laws in this field; whereas social economy entities have established themselves as crucial social and economic actors who can play an important role in the market; whereas they still face significant obstacles that hamper their economic and overall social impact; whereas Member States need to adopt specific legislation to overcome these barriers and enable the consolidation and development of the social economy, and to ensure that social economy entities can compete effectively in all economic sectors;

I.  whereas social economy organisations operate in key sectors such as health, long-term care, social, education and vocational training, culture and the promotion of cultural heritage, advanced technologies, housing, leisure, the circular economy, renewable energy and waste management; whereas by virtue of their local anchoring and social and integrating character they are an intrinsic part of the European social model;

J.  whereas the social economy is an essential component of the EU’s social market economy and a driver for the implementation of the EPSR and its targets; whereas social economy organisations play a role in the updated Industrial Strategy(17) as they lay the ground for a more sustainable and resilient EU economy that leaves no one behind;

K.  whereas the digital transition offers many opportunities for the social economy; whereas the social economy operators need training to keep up in fast-paced, competitive digital markets;

L.  whereas social economy entities have traditionally played an important role in the integration and employment of disadvantaged workers, as well as in the provision of services for them, especially persons with disabilities, including through Work Integration Social Enterprises (WISE) under the UNCRPD, thus improving their wellbeing and mental health;

M.  whereas the social services sector, which is part of the social economy, is coping with challenges such as low wages and precarious working conditions, which need to be effectively tackled;

N.  whereas cooperatives can play a role in the democratisation of digital work, for instance by creating worker-owned labour platforms;

O.  whereas more than 82,2 million volunteers play an active and fundamental role in the social economy(18); whereas volunteering is important both for the younger generation and for older people, for whom in some cases it represents an important opportunity to play an active role in society;

P.  whereas the current situation caused by the war in Ukraine has demonstrated the importance of local communities and solidarity in the European Union and in the countries that border Ukraine; whereas in general the social economy is not well developed in these countries; whereas greater involvement of social economy enterprises could have been a great advantage in coordinating support for the Ukrainian refugees;

Q.  whereas the social economy plays an important role in promoting the inclusive green and digital transition;

R.  whereas Parliament has highlighted in past resolutions the importance of facilitating the development of cross-border activities and the access to the internal market for mutual societies, associations and foundations;

S.  whereas a legal and policy framework that adequately protects and promotes worker cooperative enterprises, a set of policy measures aimed at facilitating business transfers to employees and a high level of organisation and consolidation of worker cooperatives in organisations/federations contribute to successful business transfers to employees;

T.  whereas the social economy model has great potential to reach the most vulnerable and disadvantaged communities, such as Roma, significantly improving their access to rights, resources and services, as well as their professional, social, and civic participation;

U.  whereas social economy organisations are perceived by investors as high risk(19);

1.  Welcomes the Commission’s action plan for the social economy (SEAP), the guiding principles defining the social economy set out therein, the political impetus it provides to the development of the social economy, and the wealth of measures announced; notes, however, that certain aspects related to employment and social affairs in the social economy could be further strengthened;

2.  Underlines social economy’s plurality of aims and the important role it plays in improving the resilience of the economy, ensuring a just transition, reducing inequalities, providing quality employment opportunities to vulnerable groups, promoting independent living, enhancing the sense of community, countering depopulation and strengthening the development of rural areas, implementing the principles of the EPSR and achieving upwards social convergence;

3.  Encourages Member States to take advantage of social economy sector schemes to implement principles of the EPSR;

4.  Affirms that the COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the vital role of social economy organisations in helping people face many difficulties, thereby guaranteeing social cohesion, and that it has shown their relevance and resilience;

5.  Considers that EU and national actions to promote the development of the social economy are particularly relevant in the current context in which, due to the economic and social crisis caused by COVID-19, it is essential to harness the full potential of the social economy to ensure economic recovery, to promote social entrepreneurship and to create quality jobs; stresses that social economy entities play an essential role in improving the resilience of the economy and society following the COVID-19 pandemic;

6.  Underlines that despite the social economy being a considerable source of economic growth and job creation, more needs to be done to promote this model, including the principles of solidarity, social inclusion and social investment which underpin it; urges the Commission and the Member States, therefore, as well as regional and local authorities, to step up efforts to further promote the social economy and mainstream the social economy dimension in relevant policies, programmes and practices, such as those relevant to ongoing transitions such as the green and digital transitions at Union level as well as globally via the EU’s external action;

7.  Encourages Member States to support social economy actors to develop social innovation programmes that improve social service development and delivery and that improve the accessibility of services for the most vulnerable, including people with disabilities and older people;

8.  Reiterates its calls(20) for the ‘think small first’ principle to be set as a guiding principle in the drafting of future legislation and the adoption of policies, without weakening current rules, standards and rights, such as environmental and consumer protection, so as to, on the one hand, make the regulatory frameworks more supportive of micro, small and medium-sized entities in their application of current rules and regulations, and, on the other, to strengthen the development, sustainability and growth of the social economy;

9.  Believes, that concrete strategies and follow-up measures for achieving the SEAP’s objectives should be proposed, taking into account national law and practices; underlines that the interlinkages between the SEAP and other EU initiatives such as the Action Plan of the European Pillar of Social Rights, the European Disability Strategy or the European Platform on Combatting Homelessness need to be further detailed; considers it necessary to establish a calendar for all actions included in the SEAP as well as for their monitoring and evaluation, with a view to guiding the relevant authorities in the implementation of the SEAP and ensuring policy coherence;

10.  Highlights that as it acts in the general interest, social economy entities create jobs, provide socially innovative services and goods, facilitate social inclusions and promote a more sustainable and locally anchored economy; underlines that when the role of the social economy in creating and maintaining employment involves disadvantaged workers and disadvantaged regions, appropriate support is needed to give proper recognition to these entities;

11.  Regrets that 11,6 % of jobs in the private sector of the Member States are undeclared and highlights the need for policy measures to fight undeclared work and effectively enforce workers’ rights; highlights the contribution of social economy organisations, and in particular cooperatives, to combating undeclared work;

12.  Highlights the need to promote the possibilities of direct public funding in the form of grants, e.g. via EU funds, as well as of private investments in the social economy sector, especially given the increased demand for services provided by social economy organisations during the COVID-19 pandemic and in the post-pandemic recovery;

13.  Reiterates that in order to achieve the full potential of the SEAP, the Commission and the Member States must guarantee that the implementation of the SEAP does not leave anyone behind and that it ensures full partnership of all social economy stakeholders, including not-for-profit social service providers and civil society at all levels, including church-based charities, ensuring clarity and coordination between all actors;

Creating an enabling environment for the social economy

14.  Reminds the Member States that the Public Procurement Directive allows contracting authorities to use public procurement to pursue environmental and social objectives, and, in particular, allows for reserved tender procedures for entities that respond to quality criteria and whose main aim is the inclusion in the workforce of persons with disabilities or other groups at risk of social exclusion; calls on public authorities to recognise socially and environmentally responsible public procurement as an investment in the socioeconomic fabric with great potential for combining social and competitive objectives; points out that the inclusion of environmental and social requirements in tenders can be essential to the development of the social economy sector; calls on the Commission to further promote socially responsible public procurement and good practices in order to boost socially responsible business practices and encourages Member States to aim to make all public funding disbursed in the form of public procurement contracts conditional on their compliance with applicable obligations in the fields of environmental, social and labour law established under Union or national law, collective agreements or international environmental, social and labour law;

15.  Encourages the Member States to systematically adopt strategies aimed at developing socially responsible public procurement, thus establishing a link across policy areas between the delivery of services and products and their contribution to social objectives; considers that the transposition of the Public Procurement Directive must be coupled with initiatives to increase knowledge about the relationship between public spending and its contribution to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals and to building the capacity of public procurement officers and social economy entities; encourages public procurement officers to carry out pre-market consultations before drawing up tender documents with a view to better understanding what social economy entities can offer and how they can meet tender requirements; calls on procurers not to award contracts solely on the basis of the lowest price but on best value, thus incorporating quality criteria and social impact considerations; calls on the Member States to enhance transparency and prevent corruption in public procurement; highlights the need for the relevant authorities to explore cooperation and partnerships in access to public procurement by social economy entities, as is the case in some Member States;

16.  Highlights that workers’ buyouts can be a possible solution to preventing the job losses arising from a restructuring; welcomes current initiatives in Member States to provide workers interested in a buyout process and cooperatives emerging from workers’ buyouts with business support structures, including legal advice, financial support, help in the preparation of business plans and providing the data needed by external investors; encourages other Member States to implement similar initiatives and to include this topic in the 2023 Council recommendation in order to further support these initiatives at regional and national level; highlights the role of workers’ representatives, including trade unions, in supporting and linking up with federations of cooperatives assisting workers’ buyouts in order to improve their chances of success;

17.  Stresses the need for the Commission to keep on working closely with the Member States to identify tools and solutions to remove obstacles and speed up legal procedures to transfer the ownership of an enterprise to the employees through worker cooperatives or other forms of worker-owned social economy entities; calls on the Commission to set up an EU platform for exchange of best practices between Member States, local and regional authorities and social economy networks;

18.  Underlines the importance of promoting the cooperative model and its principles of workers’ participation and democracy; encourages Member States to create a favourable legal environment for the establishment and functioning of cooperatives, including worker’s cooperatives;

19.  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;

20.  Highlights the importance of strengthening the business planning and the implementation and evaluation skills of social economy entities, as well as of relevant media literacy, management skills, participatory leadership, lifelong learning, resilience and skills required for ongoing transitions, including the green and digital transitions, by supporting 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;

21.  Calls on the Commission to encourage social impact investing and to 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;

22.  Invites the Commission to examine carefully together with social economy stakeholders and academics the feasibility and practicality of social impact bonds;

23.  Regrets that social economy entities do not feature enough in the curricula of mainstream school education and higher education(21); in light of this, invites representative sector bodies and relevant public authorities, in partnership with the relevant stakeholders, to review and evaluate the curricula at all educational levels, from primary to higher education, including vocational and educational training, and put forward policy recommendations; underlines the necessity to promote the social economy among young people; asks the Commission to ensure continuous collaboration between the European Competence Centre for Social Innovation and higher education institutions in all Member States with the goal of developing joint projects and raising awareness of the possibilities that the social economy offers to future young entrepreneurs and underrepresented groups, such as persons with disabilities, women, older persons and socially vulnerable groups;

24.  Highlights that social economy entities have for decades been leaders in implementing circular business models, especially in reusing, repairing and recycling activities, thus accelerating the transition to the circular economy and reinforcing the focus on positive social impact(22), supports the Commission’s initiative to strengthen the capacity of the social economy to further develop greener services and products;

25.  Highlights the distinct nature of renewable energy cooperatives in the social economy, as part of energy communities, in the energy system as they promote sustainable energy production and consumption practices, strengthen community ownership and social innovation, generate widespread benefits and can be used to ensure security of supply in remote locations and on certain islands;

26.  Highlights the fundamental role played by social economy entities, including mutuals, in the care sector and underlines the important growth potential of the social economy in this area, which can respond to the increased demand for care services and address ongoing challenges such as demographic ageing; calls on the Commission and Member States to support a quality care sector with suitable policies and to ensure that the upcoming revision of State aid ensures greater flexibility for social economy entities providing social and healthcare services;

27.  Highlights the importance of attaching greater importance to social impact measurement methodologies and practices; calls on the Commission, with the support of European social economy stakeholders, to carefully assess the development of social impact measurement methodologies, which can suit the diversity of social economy entities and further attract social investments;

28.  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; calls on the Commission and the Member States to remove all barriers for women in order to achieve gender equality; calls for the strengthening of the gender dimension in policies and access to funding for women engaged in social economy entities given the greater difficulties experienced by women in accessing finance compared to men; asks the Commission to identify a clear role for the social economy in the upcoming European care strategy;

29.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to set up national, transnational and interregional capacity-building partnerships and formal agreements with social economy networks and their representative organisations; points out that it is necessary to ensure the conditions for the further development and professionalisation of social economy entities, which can be done through the provision of advisory services such as tailor-made mentoring and coaching, financing capacity-building, training and education, skilling and up- or reskilling, incubating services as well as access to legal advice;

30.  Highlights the key role that new technologies and artificial intelligence, when accessible to all, can play in creating jobs and developing and scaling up social economy; stresses the importance of giving social economy entrepreneurs and employees, with a specific focus on vulnerable workers, enhanced access to training programmes on digital skills and advanced technologies, both at Union and national level, and calls on the Commission and Member States to explore how mainstream businesses, the public sector and social economy entities can cooperate to achieve this; notes that the digital transition in the social economy should be encouraged, inter alia, through taxation, public procurement and State aid;

31.  Highlights that the social economy is a way to solve urban challenges; calls for funding to be directed at the local level, including urban areas;

32.  Welcomes the fact that many local and regional authorities already have ambitious strategies and action plans to promote the social economy; acknowledges the need to build capacity at local and regional level and tackle the specific needs of cross-border social economy organisations, especially in rural, insular and remote areas; calls on the Member States to encourage the development of regional strategies for the social economy in all regions and to allocate financial resources according to locally defined priorities; urges the Commission to publish an overview of the diversity of current legal forms of the social economy in the Member States, so that local and regional authorities can focus on them when preparing their strategies;

Tapping into the full potential of EU instruments for the social economy to thrive

33.  Calls on the Member States to provide targeted funding for social economy entities and to make full use of current Union funds to promote the social economy sector and to step up their efforts to absorb the funds that are made available to them for the social economy;

34.  Considers it necessary to make it easier for social economy enterprises to access European funds, including in the context of public/private partnerships, without distorting their legal nature, and to promote their active participation in defining the European policy agenda, such as in the context of the implementation of the EPSR;

35.  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;

36.  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, most of which are micro, small and medium-sized entities, in order to allow for the development of a pipeline of projects on key topics and improve the long-term economic sustainability of social economy entities as well as their uptake of innovative solutions;

37.  Notes in particular the key role of cohesion policy funds, including the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+) and the European Regional Development-Cohesion Fund, in financing social economy projects; recalls the specific objectives of the ESF+ to improve access to employment for all jobseekers, in particular young people, as well as promote self-employment and the social economy; reminds the Member States that ESF+ funding can be used by public procurement authorities to fund the ‘social clause facilitators’, i.e. professionals in charge of promoting and supporting the implementation of social clauses at local level, and to advise public authorities on the drafting of tender specifications that are accessible to the social economy;

38.  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 and to develop targeted initiatives for helping other underrepresented entrepreneurs in the social economy;

39.  Supports the setting up of national competence centres for social innovation aimed at social entrepreneurs and a European competence centre for social innovation; reminds the Commission and Member States, however, that social innovation is practised by all social economy organisations, including not-for-profit social service providers, as well as social entrepreneurs; calls on Member States to address the specific challenges of the not-for-profit social services sector to allow this sector to continue its innovative path, while retaining grants and subsidies under the ESF+ or the Erasmus+ project;

40.  Welcomes the use of targeted EU funding for projects aimed at developing and enabling the transfer of enterprises to their employees and thus the continuity of the business, including through a takeover by a workers’ cooperative(23);

41.  Calls on the Member States to promote access of social economy entities to NextGenerationEU funding in the context of their national Recovery and Resilience plans, in particular for the promotion of quality employment, social inclusion and an inclusive digital and green transition for all;

42.  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, especially in the context of the post-COVID-19 recovery, to explore different evidence-based options, after consulting relevant stakeholders, to support the development of social economy entities and to provide clarity and guidance to national authorities on the legal basis to be used to support social economy entities via State aid;

43.  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;

44.  Urges national, regional and local authorities to better tap into the potential of current rules on the specific provisions for services of general economic interest (SGEI) to access public finance support in under EU State Aid Regulation, not least by making full use of the possibility to recognise social economy entities carrying out an economic activity as an SGEI where relevant;

45.  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;

46.  Believes that current labels and certifications for social economy entities could serve as an inspiration to Member States; welcomes the commitment in the SEAP to launch a study on national social economy labels and certification systems with a view to increasing the visibility of the social economy and enabling a well-functioning single market, and, based on the results, explore the possibility of preparing the ground for a more standardised system at Union level; underlines that this study should build on previous findings and involve social economy stakeholders;

47.  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;

48.  Encourages the Commission, in cooperation with the Member States, to identify effective tools for supporting and protecting civic space organisations, and social economy entities in particular, in the Member States; stresses that the Citizenship, Equality, Rights and Values Programme, which is aimed inter alia at non-profit organisation, with a budget of EUR 1,55 billion is a meaningful contribution to the challenges faced by civil society in the EU;

49.  Notes that the funding of non-profit organisations often requires co-financing and that requiring too high a share of own resources can be prohibitive; underlines, therefore, that the share of own resources required for co-financing should be evaluated and that different means which could be monetarised need to be taken into account, such as volunteer time or contributions in kind;

50.  Is pleased that the Commission has launched a study providing a comparative analysis of the legal regimes and landscapes of associations in the EU; requests the Commission to submit, on the basis of Article 352 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, a proposal for a regulation establishing a statute for a European associations based on the recommendations set out in the Parliament’s resolution of 17 February 2022 with recommendations to the Commission on a statute for European cross-border associations and non-profit organisations and in Part I of the annex thereto;

Towards an effective implementation of the SEAP

51.  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 and that both the recommendation and definition need to take into account the diversity of social economy entities in Member States; highlights that the recommendation must have the primary objective of strengthening the legal and policy frameworks for the social economy, especially in Member States where the social economy ecosystem is less developed; believes that the recommendation should clearly highlight the support instruments made available by the EU and provide guidance on specific policies, such as suitable legal frameworks for different kinds of social economy entities, public procurement, State aid, employment, social and health policies, taxation, education, skills and training and the importance of linking ongoing transitions with the social economy agenda;

52.  Underlines the importance of workers’ participation and democratic governance, which are principles recognised in the SEAP, in achieving the objectives of the social economy; stresses that all workers in the social economy must have decent working and employment conditions and career progression perspectives, ideally based on collective agreements; highlights in this context that social economy entities have to comply with trade union rights, social dialogue and collective bargaining; calls on the Commission to ensure that all EU financial support to social economy entities should be made conditional on their compliance with the applicable working and employment conditions and/or employer obligations established by law and/or resulting from collective agreements; stresses that because their model is based on workers’ participation, social economy entities are well-placed to promote social dialogue and collective bargaining; stresses therefore the need to further develop social dialogue, both at national and European level, and collective bargaining in the social economy;

53.  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, inter alia, by acknowledging and including its specific nature in future association agreements and providing information and training on social economy to EU delegation staff, and by assessing how such actions can contribute to the development of the social economy in third countries;

54.  Regrets that Parliament’s past calls on the Commission to submit proposals allowing mutual societies, associations and foundations to act on a European and cross-border scale did not lead to any legislative changes, thus undermining the European social model and hindering the completion of the single market; reiterates Parliament’s call to introduce common minimum standards for non-profit organisations throughout the EU and establish a statute for European associations and calls on the Commission to publicly explain the reasons why Parliament’s calls have not been followed up on; suggests, in view of the window of opportunity opened by the SEAP, as well as of the activities of the Monitoring Committee of the Luxembourg Declaration, which comprises a majority of Member States, that enhanced cooperation be explored as a tool to overcome the aforementioned decades-long deadlocks;

55.  Notes that the full potential of the social economy sector for addressing socioeconomic challenges requires a clear identification of social priorities by public authorities and social economy entities; highlights that social economy projects often require a close partnership with public entities; calls therefore on the Commission and Member States to develop within the macroeconomic governance framework provided at EU level a new social investment strategy where social priorities are clearly identified, in line with the EPSR, and which can provide a framework for cooperation between public authorities and social economy entities;

56.  Calls on the Commission to use the country reports and the country-specific recommendations in the Semester process to monitor the development of the social economy in Europe and calls on the Commission to make its initiatives more ambitious and coherent, and where possible to propose legal measures;

57.  Calls on the Commission to monitor that Member States follow-up on Social Economy commitments in national Recovery and Resilience Plans (RRPs);

58.  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 for this study to cover the different types of social economy entities and to collect disaggregated data on workers; notes that detailed, standardised, comparable and reliable data on the scale and impact of the social economy are needed with a view to facilitating evidence-based policy decisions, future-proofing the development of the social economy and contributing to EU economic and social goals; 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; calls on the Commission and national statistical authorities to work with Eurostat to collect standardised data and to regularly update and analyse it;

59.  Welcomes the Commission’s work on a transition pathway for the social economy and proximity industrial ecosystems; notes, however, that additional information is required to understand how it will interact with other regional and local initiatives and to ensure effective implementation on the ground;

60.  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); considers that there is a need to ensure close coordination between national coordinators, local contact points, the EU online platform and the EU Social Economy Gateway in order to maximise knowledge exchange and synergies as well as the visibility of opportunities for social economy actors and avoid possible duplication of work;

61.  Calls on the Commission to further collaborate with GECES and to set up an SEAP implementation taskforce including the GECES as well as national coordinators in charge of monitoring and regularly reporting to Parliament, the Council and the relevant stakeholders, including the social partners, and to disseminate its composition and timeline for action;

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62.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission.

(1) OJ L 94, 28.3.2014, p. 65.
(2) OJ C 116, 31.3.2021, p. 162.
(3) Texts adopted, P9_TA(2022)0044.
(4) OJ C 117, 11.3.2022, p. 53.
(5) OJ C 99, 1.3.2022, p. 122.
(6) OJ C 465, 17.11.2021, p. 110.
(7) OJ C 345, 16.10.2020, p. 2.
(8) OJ C 425, 20.10.2021, p. 2.
(9) OJ C 118, 8.4.2020, p. 145.
(10) OJ C 316, 22.9.2017, p. 224.
(11) OJ C 75, 26.2.2016, p. 34.
(12) OJ C 75, 26.2.2016, p. 11.
(13) OJ C 36, 29.1.2016, p. 111.
(14) OJ C 419, 16.12.2015, p. 42.
(15) OJ C 76 E, 25.3.2010, p. 16.
(16) OJ C 99, 13.4.1987, p. 205.
(17) OECD/European Union, Policy brief on making the most of the Social Economy’s contribution to the Circular Economy, 2022.
(18) https://www.eesc.europa.eu/sites/default/files/files/qe-04-17-875-en-n.pdf
(19) European Commission, Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, Hayday, M., Varga, E., A recipe book for social finance : a practical guide on designing and implementing initiatives to develop social finance instruments and markets, Publications Office, 2017.
(20) In, inter alia, its resolutions of 16 December 2020 on a new strategy for European SMEs (OJ C 445, 29.10.2021, p. 2) and of 24 June 2021 on European regulatory fitness and subsidiarity principle -report on Better Law Making covering the years 2017, 2018 and 2019 (OJ C 81, 18.2.2022, p. 74).
(21) Eurofound, Labour market change. Cooperatives and social enterprises: Work and employment in selected countries, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg, 2019.
(22) OECD/European Commission, ‘Policy brief on making the most of the social economy’s contribution to the circular economy’, OECD Local Economic and Employment Development (LEED) Papers, No. 2022/01, OECD Publishing, 2022.
(23) E.g. Innovative Business Transfer Models for SMEs in the Baltic Sea Region funded under Interreg, the use of European Social Fund and Employment and Social Innovation programme (EaSI) funding, pilot projects supported by the European Parliament, Transfer to Coops and Saving Jobs.

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