On 9 December, the European Commission presented its Social Economy Action Plan to boost the social economy, its big job-creation potential and social and environmental impact.
The social economy can help to implement the principles of the European Pillar for Social Rights and deliver on its 2021 Action Plan. Social economy entities often play an important part in supporting Member States’ action in delivering quality social services, integrating young people and disadvantaged groups into the labour market and improving gender equality.
The Commission proposes to act in three areas:
- Creating the right conditions: a coherent policy and legal framework for the social economy through a Council Recommendation, to encourage mutual learning and provide guidance and support to Member States. The European Commission will also support the development of social impact measurement tools.
- Opening opportunities: for 2021-2027, the Commission is aiming to increase its financial support to the social economy to reskill and upskill their workers. The Commission will also launch an EU Social Economy Gateway in 2023 to ensure social economy actors can find all the information they need in one place on EU funding, policies, training and initiatives. In 2022, the Commission will also set up a European competence centre for social innovation.
- Make the social economy more visible and improve the recognition of its work and potential: the Commission will carry out communication activities, launch a study to collect qualitative and quantitative data to better understand the social economy, organise training courses for public officials and promote the social economy at regional and local level by fostering transnational cooperation and exchanges.
With the action plan, the Commission also launches a "transition pathway" to facilitate the green and digital transitions of the social economy in dialogue with public authorities and stakeholders. A European enquiry is open on this subject until 28 February 2022.
A new European Care Strategy for 2022 will be published to boost the care economy which constitutes a large part of the social economy. The Social Employers, together with EPSU, recently published a joint position paper calling for a Strategy that addresses and anticipates the workforce needs and challenges of the social services sector.
The Social Employers welcomes this action plan, in line with many of the main priorities highlighted in the Social Employers Position Paper, as well as the joint statement with EPSU. Future initiatives following the launch of the Action Plan should also address the need to further develop social dialogue in the social economy, and especially via the expected creation of a sectoral social dialogue committee for social services, to tackle current workforce challenges and best prepare for the future.