Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

European social economy regions 2020

European social economy regions 2020
Published on: 06/12/2019 Last update: 06/12/2019
Deadline: 31/01/2020
Following a successful rollout of the European social economy regions initiative in 2018 and 2019, the European Commission Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs is launching a third edition of the European social economy regions (ESER). The ESER make regional and local social economies visible by supporting regional authorities in organising awareness-raising events where stakeholders can also build active networks.

Building on the campaign from the last 2 years, the ESER 2020 will

  • continue to raise awareness in new regions and cities for better geographical balance between COSME countries
  • encourage innovative applications
  • introduce new ways of Commission engagement in regional/local ESER events via online and offline tools (webinars, live-chats etc.)

Public, regional and local authorities interested in the social economy that didn't take part in previous ESER editions may submit a proposal to organise a targeted event with regional and local stakeholders. We will support proposals that meet selection criteria as well as raise local and regional awareness about social economy with online and/or offline methods and tools.

ESER 2.0

To advance the ESER initiative to the next level and support targeted social economy community building, we introduce 'ESER 2.0' as part of ESER 2020. It is open to regions and cities who already took an active part in ESER 2018 and 2019. The applications should develop initial ESER awareness-raising further. 

As with ESER 2020, we will support ESER 2.0 via online and/or offline methods and tools.

We will award the most innovative ESER 2.0 project during the European Social Economy Summit in Mannheim in 2020 and organisers will have an (optional) opportunity to host/co-host the concluding event following year (2021).

The submission period for expressions of interest is now open

Public regional or local authorities may submit their proposals to organise an ESER 2020 event by 31 January 2020.

Why should you apply?

Despite their positive impact on society at large, social economy enterprises across Europe often suffer from a lack of visibility and recognition. Also, stakeholders are more active at the local level. They rarely work together and they are not adequately heard. The 2018 and 2019 editions of the European social economy regions attracted more than 80 regions and cities from EU countries and COSME third countries. They contributed to more awareness about the regional and local social economy as well as new connections between social economy stakeholders at European level.

The 2020 edition of ESER will continue to raise regional and local awareness, while the new 'ESER 2.0' component aims at targeted social economy community building. With ESER 2.0, ESER 2018 and 2019 regional and local partners can raise awareness to the next level. It will build on stakeholder networks established at previous ESER editions. ESER 2.0 will also help stakeholders use their unique knowledge through innovative approaches focused on concrete outcomes for ESER 2.0 events.

How will we support the local events?


  • providing a Commission expert to several ESER 2020 events
  • offering online (virtual) supportive tools and/or promotional materials for ESER 2020 events without a Commission expert present
  • providing a joint visual identity of the European social economy regions initiative
  • promoting the events

The Commission will not provide financial support to ESER events.

Only a limited number of ESER 2020 events will benefit from a Commission expert based on justification included in applications (annex)

ESER 2020 selection criteria

  • Applicants should not have applied for or have not been actively involved in the 2018 and 2019 ESER events. *This doesn’t apply to ESER 2.0 applications
  • Wide participation of regional/local social economy stakeholders
  • Ability to cover all the financial costs linked to organising regional/local events
  • Obligation to use the European social economy regions joint visual identity to promote the event
  • Interest in joining a European network of public authorities and stakeholders interested in the social economy
  • Adequate promotion of the event
  • Strict geographical balance of the applications

ESER 2.0 selection criteria

  • Applicants took an active part in ESER 2018 and/or 2019 editions
  • Applications aim to build on outcomes of ESER 2018 and/or 2019 through
  1. An innovative approach of ESER 2.0 events (such as participatory methodology, interregional dimension, citizens' engagement etc.)
  2. Targeting concrete outcomes of ESER 2.0 events (such as preparing future projects that address gaps in the use of EU instruments for social economy, addressing concrete SDGs etc.)

Including 'social economy canvas testing workshop' in ESER 2.0 events is seen as an asset.

Up to now, neither academics or practitioners have converged their work in a business model canvas applicable to all types of social economy and social enterprises on a broader scale. Even though the existing social economy and social enterprises canvases are progressively embedding social and environmental concerns into the design of economic activities, these new business model approaches are still leaving out important dimensions and differentiation from the canvas.

Social economy canvas will provide a framework to improve the design, development and scaling-up of socially and environmentally responsible economic activities. It could also help to identify weaknesses and improve the performance of the social economy and social enterprises’ ecosystems. 

We developed the social economy canvas prototype to

  1. help aspiring social entrepreneurs prepare their social start-up
  2. help social economy and traditional enterprises test their triple-bottom-line performance
  3. map emerging forms of social economy enterprises
  4. contribute to implementing the SDGs

Between November 2019 – October 2020 we are running a series of onsite tests with different groups of social economy stakeholders to fine-tune the prototype and present the final results during the Social Economy Summit in Mannheim in November 2020.

The applicant can become a testing site by allocating a 90-minute slot for a testing session. A European Commission expert will organise and facilitate the testing session. The applicant will identify a maximum of 6 regional/local entrepreneurs to run the test and at least one local agency supporting social economy, social entrepreneurship and/or social innovation, to explore the level of interest in using the canvas as a method.

Format of the event

As an organiser, you may choose your preferred format, duration and venue for the regional and local events.

How will we select proposals?

An ad-hoc selection committee within the European Commission will select the ESER 2020 events based on the selection criteria and the geographical balance of the event organisers.

The Commission has sole and absolute discretion to select the regional and local events based on the criteria above. We will inform all applicants about the results of the selection procedure via email.

How to apply?

Please fill in the template in the annex and submit it to by 31 January 2020.


Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs social economy team: