The social economy is emerging as a key priority within EU policy and programmes in the new multi-annual financial framework (2021 – 2027).
An EU Action Plan for Social Economy will be published later this year, the goal of which is determine initiatives that can boost the contribution of social economy organisations to a fair and sustainable growth, enhance social investment, and support social economy actors.
But what is the social economy?
In many ways it can be understood a synonym for the nonprofit sector as a whole. It refers to a diversity of enterprises and organisational models such as cooperatives, mutuals, associations, foundations, social enterprises, charities and other legal forms regulated at Member State level.
What they have in common are shared values and features, including putting the needs of people and communities first, participative governance, and reinvestment of profits in supports and services.
The social economy is a vital part of the overall economy, representing 10% of all businesses in the EU and employing 11 million people (about 6% of the EU’s employees). It is an integral part of the EU’s policy objective of delivering “an economy that works for people”.
In order to ensure that the needs of the Irish social economy are considered in the development of the EU Action Plan for Social Economy, The Wheel joined with Social Economy Europe to submit a policy paper: Co-building the Social Economy Action Plan: for an economy that works for people and the planet.
In this policy paper, seven key priorities that we believe should be central to the EU’s action plan:
1. A common understanding of the social economy in the EU
2. Improve the visibility of the social economy and its socio-economic contribution
3. Improve access to finance and EU funding for social economy enterprises and organisations
4. Boost access to markets for the social economy in the Single Market
5. Promote the social economy at global level as a driver for the implementation of the SDGs
6. Towards the participation of social economy employers in the EU inter-sectorial social dialogue
7. Coordination, implementation, and follow-up of the Action Plan for the Social Economy.
The position paper has been submitted to a number of policy makers at EU level, including European Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, Nicolas Schmit, representatives from DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, and the UN Taskforce on Social Economy.