The European Parliament’s Research Department have just published a new briefing on the future for the Social Economy at EU level.

After defining the Social Economy, the briefing focuses on the five pillars for EU intervention on social economy:
1. Access to finance;
2. Access to markets to encourage cooperation between traditional and social economy players;
3. Provision of framework conditions (i.e. mapping of the state of play of the social economy);
4. Innovation and new business models; and
5. International relations.

The briefing highlights how the social economy has been seriously affected by the Coronavirus pandemic and the lockdown measures across Europe. With the Commission initiating several initiatives that could support the social economy such as;
· The framework for temporary state aid measures;
· SURE initiative;
· Coronavirus Response Investment Initiatives (CRII and CRII+);
· Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD);
· European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF); and
· Liquidity measures to help hard-hit Small and medium-sized Enterprises.

In summary, the social economy can help the EU find the right direction out of the current crisis and also play a role. However, the social economy can also contribute on a deeper level to address the issue at the core which is the relationship between knowledge, technology, society and policymaking.


The full text can be found here:

Traditionally the social economy is considered to be an ever-growing set of private, formally organised enterprises and networks that build on multiple types of resources and cooperation, with local anchorage and democratic and participatory decision-making processes. Its primary aim is not to make a profit but to meet the needs of its members and that of the wider society. The social economy is active in an increasing number of sectors, and while some of its actors are small non-profit organisations, others are large organisations with international outreach. It generates 6 to 8 % of the European Union’s gross domestic product (GDP). However, it is a driver not only of economic activity but also of normative values, such as solidarity and inclusion. Since its conception in the 19th century, it has taken on board innovation in social relations and in societal and community spheres, human development targets and socio-political empowerment.

In the first two decades of the 21st century, with new risks and opportunities arising owing to the twin digital and green transformations, there is an emerging debate, rethinking economic growth theories with more focus on inclusion and combatting inequality, and exploring the relevance of traditional welfare state models. This debate has intensified in the wake of the 2008 crisis, and now also as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and crisis. The social economy can play a central role in this context. While it has been badly affected by these crises, it also has the potential to mitigate some of the negative impacts. The social economy’s values-based approach to the economy can enable it to generate new elements in the ecosystems in which it exists and be an important ‘engine’ in the immediate recovery and the longer-term possible restructuring of the economy towards more resilience, fairness and sustainability.

For the social economy to be able to reach its full potential across the Member States and help to achieve green and inclusive growth with renewed welfare state models, it needs to be supported simultaneously at all levels. EU action can contribute to this. The main areas of EU intervention are: facilitating access to finance and markets, including the digital single market; creating better framework conditions, including for cooperation and cross-border activity; supporting innovation, including new business models; and developing international relations. The Commission action plan on the social economy expected in 2021 might address many of these issues.


This publication has been prepared within SENBS project No. 2020- 1-EE01-KA204-077999. The content of this publication is the sole responsibility of the project coordinator and may not always reflect the views of the European Commission or the National Agency.