Socio-Economic Policies

European Social Economy Action Plan

At the end of the year 2021, the European Commission will present a European Social Economy Action Plan. Lasting for five years (2021-2026), this plan is intended to allow social economy organisations, including social enterprises, to be meaningful elements of the future economic model, underpinning the green and digital transitions aiming to leave no one behind. We provided input into the public consultation process by sharing our main policy asks on this upcoming initiative.

What are we working on?

  • Calling on the mainstreaming of the social economy within circular policies and beyond
  • Ensuring that the real value of social enterprises active in the circular economy is recognised
  • Improving access to funding for social enterprises
  • Acknowledging the essential role played by social enterprises in skilling and up-skilling to meet changing market needs

European Social Fund

ESF+ is the EU’s main instrument to strengthen the its social dimension by supporting job creation and equal opportunities for all. It also seeks to help EU Member States ensure just, green and digital transitions as well as a smooth post COVID-19 economic recovery.

Under this fund each Member State has to invest at least 25% of the funding to social inclusion. ESF+ also actively supports the development of social enterprises due to their role as job creators, integration of vulnerable groups and their valuable contributions to up-skilling and re-skilling.  The total budget of the fund amounts to 88 million EUR for the period 2021 – 2027.

What are we working on?

  • Raising awareness of the social enterprises active in the circular economy contribution to the green and circular job creation, integration of vulnerable groups and promoting access to training and skills to meet the changing market needs
  • Increasing avenues and availability of support for social enterprises within ESF+ and beyond, as a way to implement the European Pillar of Social Rights and the climate neutral economy before 2050

EU Pact for Skills

Launched on 10 November 2020, the EU Pact for Skills is the first flagship initiative of the European Skills Agenda aimed at supporting fair, green and digital transitions. The pact seeks to join the forces of different stakeholders in ensuring skilling and up-skilling of people. This serves to facilitate private and public partnerships, fostering favourable industrial ecosystems. We work to ensure that social enterprises have a say in shaping the EU skills agenda and are recognised as key partners providing ‘green skills’ for the circular economy, as well as reducing inequalities caused by digitalisation.

What are we working on?

  • Raising awareness on the need for further support (via finances or training) to ensure social enterprises are best placed to connect with traditional and/or higher-level educational bodies, public and private actors
  • Helping to map needed skills and workforce training needs to secure smooth just, digital and circular transitions
  • Collecting and facilitating the exchange of best practices within the circular economy, showcasing how social enterprises contribute to the skilling and up-skilling of the workforce

European Pillar of Social Rights

The European Pillar of Social Rights consists of twenty thematic principles, which were proclaimed by the European Commission in 2017 with the aim to create a more social Europe based on fairness, inclusivity and equal opportunity. On 4 March, after a year of consultations, the Commission released the Social Pillar Action Plan, setting out several concrete initiatives to create an ‘economy that works for people’ and address the dire socio-economic consequences caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Social entrepreneurship is key in making the EU social rights a reality for EU citizens. Therefore, we work towards ensuring a favourable policy ecosystem for the social enterprises to thrive in.

What are we working on?

  • Ensuring that the main principles of the EU Pillar of Social are mainstreamed to the EU circular policies and beyond
  • Contributing to the policy ecosystem allowing to reach the headline targets, as outline in the EU pillar of Social Rights

European Semester

The European Semester serves as the framework to coordinate macro-economic policies across the European Union. Since 2018, we conduct an annual analysis of the European Semester, taking stock of how the National Reform Programmes (NRPs) and the Country Specific Recommendations (CSRs) issued by the Commission reflect circular and social priorities.

What are we working on?

  • A holistic approach to the European Semester by addressing economic, social and environmental policy dimensions

  • Adequate attention to the potential of social economy actors, such as social enterprises and their abilities to address climate and social challenges by enabling a sustainable and inclusive economic recovery and providing employment for vulnerable groups


The EU VAT system reform can play a role in the transition to a resource-efficient and more inclusive economy. Today, a number of Member States allow for reduced VAT rates on goods and services provided by social enterprises as they contribute to social welfare.

However, this is far from the norm across Europe. In relation to the ongoing revision of the current VAT Directive, we work to guarantee a favourable framework for social enterprises active in the circular economy.

What are we working on?

  • Reduced VAT for products and services provided by social enterprises (a provision which has been removed from a proposal to revise the VAT Directive)
  • Differentiated VAT rates for key services contributing to the circular economy with high employment potential, such as re-use and repair
  • Ensuring that VAT could be reclaimable should a company decide to donate unsold overstock to social enterprises

Public Procurement

The EU Directive on public procurement adopted in 2014 allows Member States to reserve contracts for social reasons. However, while some EU regions showed initiative to integrate social or environmental considerations into public procurement procedures, such practice remains an exception.

We work to urge Europe’s public authorities to consider social and circular criteria in their purchasing decisions, implement the use of combined social and circular clauses in tendering procedures in order to safeguard and further develop social enterprises.

What are we working on?

  • Implementing combined social and circular clauses in tendering procedures to safeguard and further develop social enterprises
  • Calling for a necessary training on innovative, green and social public procurement for local authorities to make better purchasing decisions that benefit societies in the long-term