Commission gives Social Economy a new boost with ambitious Action Plan


On Thursday, December 9, the European Commission unveiled its much-anticipated Action Plan on Social Economy (SEAP)
The Action Plan aims at creating a favourable ecosystem for social economy actors in Europe to thrive. It proposes key measures on accessing finance, visibility, regulatory frameworks and is organised around three main areas: creating the right business environment, opening opportunities for enterprises, and bringing awareness and recognition to the sector.

Cooperatives Europe welcomes this long-awaited Action Plan. We support the Commission’s commitment to bring recognition to social economy enterprises within policy design. Indeed, developing appropriate policy and legal frameworks taking into account the plurality of the movement is essential to remove legal obstacles. The Commission’s assistance to the Member States in doing so at the national and local levels is also welcome in that regard.

The EU needs a widely shared understanding of social economy enterprises to design measures that apply to them. The large and inclusive approach to the definition of the social economy in the SEAP has to be anchored into its key characteristics in terms of governance, ownership, and objectives. We stress the importance of considering all types of cooperatives for a true level playing field between all enterprises in the market, from large international ones to locally rooted SMEs in the proximity economy.  

The Action Plan contains several measures we believe are necessary such as the EU Social Economy Gateway that will assist enterprises in accessing information and taking full advantage of EU and private funding. Similarly, key actions aiming at fostering youth entrepreneurship and promoting alternative business models are welcomed.

When it comes to international development, we regret that the cooperation and development instruments do not include the entire European region. Social economy enterprises and particularly cooperatives bring substantial added value as development actors and must be better supported within EU External action.
It is now essential for the Commission to provide a set of concrete and practical measures to move forward. Cooperative Europe calls for the definition of strategic objectives and benchmarks at the EU level as well as active coordination between the Member States.

Commenting on the Action Plan, Cooperatives Europe’s president Susanne Westhausen said:

Today’s Action Plan is a step forward to support social economy enterprises to start up, scale up, innovate and create jobs. It recognises their true value as actors contributing to economic growth and job creation while being drivers for fair, inclusive, and sustainable development. Cooperatives Europe looks forward to collaborating with the Commission and its partners in the next few months to bring this initiative to life.


  • Find the Action Plan here.
  • Following this Press Release, Cooperatives Europe will publish a position paper to deepen out and clarify its stance on the SEAP.


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