EU action plan for the social economy: Pre-legislative synthesis of national, regional and local positions on the European Commission's initiative

Briefing 01-12-2021

This Briefing forms part of an EPRS series which offers a synthesis of the pre-legislative state-of-play and advance consultation on a range of key European Commission priorities during the latter's five-year term in office. It seeks to summarise the state of affairs in the relevant policy field, examine how existing policy is working on the ground, and identify best practice and ideas for the future on the part of governmental organisations at all levels of European system of multilevel governance. An EPRS analysis of the positions of partner organisations at European Union (EU), national, regional and local levels suggests that they would like the following main considerations to be reflected in the discussion on the forthcoming European action plan for the social economy. There is broad consensus that access to finance requires diversified funding options and that synergies should be established between regional, national and EU funds. Funding under Next Generation EU has the potential to be a positive game-changer for the social economy in Europe. When it comes to framework conditions, the need to increase the visibility of the social economy is widely recognised. Public authorities particularly suggest visualising the impact of social economy enterprises and setting up an online platform where social actors can interact. Access to markets could benefit from strengthening the business-to-government channel. Regional governmental organisations advocate stronger inter-regional cooperation within the EU. As an example of good practice, the European Committee of the Regions identifies the social economy thematic platform under the smart specialisation strategy, which comprises seven regions in six Member States. According to public authorities, some tools, the European social economy regions (ESER) scheme for example, could be further promoted to strengthen the global dimension of the EU's neighbourhood policy. There is also further potential to link up with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the United Nations (UN). Some governmental organisations signalled their intention to invest in new technologies, such as cloud computing, big data, blockchain and robotisation. Finally, new business models could be created by paying attention to cross-cutting issues such as gender equality and the ability of the social economy to find solutions adapted to rural areas. Overall, the social economy is seen as a way to solve local problems, including employment, inclusion, care and education, with a bottom-up approach.