Announcement of the Action Plan for the Social Economy adopted by the European Commission

European Action Plan for the Social Economy

“The European Commission publishes on December 9, 2021, as planned, the European Action Plan for the Social Economy. Below is a summary of this plan in French, which is currently only available in English.

There is no doubt that this Action Plan represents a positive step forward compared to the past, a step forward that we owe to Commissioner Schmitt, who was tasked by President Ursula von der Leyen in this direction. It is still too early to judge the extent of the progress that this Plan will represent in the future.

The challenge now is to launch it successfully at the Strasbourg conference on February 17 and 18, 2022, mobilizing the participants of the European SSE.

The priority will also be to wait for the French Presidency of the EU (PFUE) to move this plan forward in the first half of 22 and put the SEC back on the European agenda. The ESS Lab, since it is convinced that the ESS can play a significant role in the European transition model, will remain mobilized to address the European question.

Hugues Sibille, Member of the European Commission CSESS GECES and ESS Laboratories

Based on the Social Business Initiative launched by the Commission in 2011, the Action Plan is the result of an extensive consultation process with citizens and stakeholders.

Social economy organizations are organizations that prioritize social and environmental goals and reinvest most of their profits back into the organization. There are 2.8 million social economy entities in Europe that employ 13.6 million people and provide solutions to the major problems of our society. These organizations cover a wide range of sectors, from care services to recycling; and take many forms, from cooperatives to social enterprises.

SSE in Europe is 2.8 million organizations and organizations, 13 million paid jobs, 6.3% of the workforce, 0.6 to 9.9% of jobs across Europe.


The social economy has great potential for realizing the European framework for social rights and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Recently, its resilience to sanitary and economic crises has also been demonstrated.

The Social Economy Action Plan adopted today helps social economy organizations grow and prosper. It proposes 3 areas of action containing proposals for the period 2021-2030:


Develop policy and legal frameworks adapted to the specifics of the social economy

  • Political and legal framework : The European Commission (EC) encourages peer learning and provides support to Member States by organizing webinars to share best practices, publications on the taxation regime for social economy actors, launching a study on national models of social economy labels/certificates. The EC proposes for 2023 a Council Recommendation on the political and legal conditions/framework for the social economy to promote the development of the social economy in all Member States.

  • State aid: As part of the review of the General Regulation on Blocking Benefits scheduled for 2023, the EC will assess whether it is justified to ease the rules to make it easier for social enterprises to access public assistance.

  • Access to public markets and orders:The EC will improve the exchange of best practices, as well as training and awareness raising for government customers and SSE participants, and will launch an initiative under the Single Market Program 2022 to encourage the creation of local and regional partnerships between the social economy and the classical economy “Social Buy”.

Promoting the social economy at the local and regional levels

  • The EC will assist Member States and stakeholders in their revitalization of rural areas through the social economy through the future European network for CAP, and strengthen the role of social and environmental innovation clusters.

  • It also plans to expand the European Social Economy Regions (ESER) network andimprove networking between businesses in rural areas.

Promoting the social economy internationally

  • The EC will promote the social economy in pre-accession and neighborhood programs.

  • This will improve access to finance for social enterprises in the Balkans and neighboring countries to the east and south.


Support for trade and entrepreneurship

  • As part of Skill Pact(European Strategy for Industry), the EU will promote skills partnerships for the Social and Local Economy ecosystem.

  • EC to launch new ‘one-stop shop’ for the European social economy in 2023provide participants with all information on access to European funding, platforms, initiatives and European policies related to SSE, as well as guidance on European funding opportunities.

  • Focused on youth, the EC plans to launch a program for young entrepreneurs.within the framework of ESF+ and the best promotion of the Erasmus+ Young Entrepreneurs program.

Improving access to finance

  • EU to launch new financial products within InvestEU. The aim is to mobilize more private funds to meet the needs of social enterprises according to their different stages of development. It will complete financial instruments and support capital investment through subsidies. This will help European microfinance networks for SSE companies.

  • The EC will support the development of social performance measures and work with stakeholders on a methodology that is accessible to all participants.

Maximizing the contribution of the social economy to the ecological and digital transition

  • The EU will launch the Transition Path Initiative for the industrial ecosystem Social and Local Economy..

  • It includes the launch of an innovative financing campaign within the framework of the New European Bauhaus Lab, a pilot project to mobilize charitable donations.

  • The EU will work with cities to develop local environmental deals and publish guidelines for building projects and partnerships around and for the circular economy.

Develop social innovation


The EU will carry out regular long-term communication actions, emphasizing the role and characteristics of the social economy. It also provides for a new study to collect quantitative and qualitative information on the social economy in the Member States, as well as a special study on charitable giving in the Union.


EU actions after the announcement of the Social Economy Action Plan:

  • Council recommendationto help national policy makers adapt policy and legal frameworks to the needs of social economy organizations.

  • European Social Economy Portalcontaining information on EU funds, policies and initiatives for consideration

  • Academy of Youth Entrepreneurship Policy Initiativeimprove the prospects of young entrepreneurs, especially social entrepreneurs

  • European Competence Center for Social Innovationpromoting transnational partnerships, experience sharing, capacity building and networking

  • Buy Local Initiativesupporting the creation of local partnerships between social economy organizations and mainstream enterprises.

  • Financial products within InvestEUaimed at mobilizing private finance for social enterprises.

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