A significant proportion of Europe's economy is intended to make profits for people other than investors or owners. Known as the ‘social economy’, it includes cooperatives, mutual societies, non-profit associations, foundations and social enterprises. They operate a very broad number of commercial activities, provide a wide range of products and services across the European single market and generate millions of jobs. Social enterprises are also the engine for social innovation.
Social economy enterprises are important because of their:
The Commission aims for a level playing field in which social economy enterprises can compete effectively and fairly, without regulatory discrimination and taking into account their particular needs. To promote a highly competitive social market economy, the Commission has addressed the issue in
The Commission submitted the following proposals to the Council of the European Union:
In 2003, the Statute for a European Cooperative was adopted. The other 2 proposals of 1992 were withdrawn in 2006 by the Commission due to lack of legislative progress, while the last one on the European Foundation was withdrawn by the Commission due to lack of progress within the Council (December 2014).
The Commission's Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs launched the European Social Economy Regions Pilot (ESER) in February 2018. Its aim is to raise visibility and awareness about the social economy at regional and local level. ESER supports regional authorities that organise awareness-raising events. There, regional social economy stakeholders (regional/local public authorities, SMEs, social enterprises etc.) are invited and encouraged to build active networks. The pilot has attracted 32 EU regions/cities from 14 EU Countries (FR, ES, IT, DE, PL, NL, BE, FI, HU, RO, BG, SI, GR, IE). The Commission contributed to the regional events by providing the ESER visual identity and sending an expert to present EU policies and activities in the social economy.
Two ESER concluding events took place in October 2018 (Global Social Economy Forum in Bilbao on 2 October and European Week of Regions and Cities in Brussels on 9 October). The participants gave the Commission a clear mandate to continue with this initiative and streamline it for inter-regional collaboration in the future.
The concluding events were participatory enabling regional stakeholders to have their voice heard and discuss the future shaping of social economy policies.
These events also form the base from which to gradually build the ESER community.
The 2nd edition of the initiative ‘ESER 2019’ will launch 3 December 2018. More information.
Satellite Accounts for Cooperatives and Mutuals (2009): The objective was to develop reliable statistics on cooperatives and mutuals at national and European level. The projects were:
Beneficiary: Statistical Office of the Republic of Serbia
Beneficiary: State Statistical Office (FYROM)