On 1 March 2021, the European Commission published the EU roadmap on the future EU Action Plan on Social Economy. The document was made available to interested stakeholders, which were able to provide their comments until 26 April 2021. EASPD’s position on the Commission’s initiative has been elaborated on the basis of the contributions provided by its large base of members.
With more than 2.8 million of social economy enterprises and 13.6 million of employed individuals in the European Union (EU), social economy is a key driver of economic and social development in the EU and is a crucial part of the EU socio-economic landscape.
In its contribution to the stakeholders consultation, the EASPD has elaborated a number of suggestions aimed at supporting a wide development of social economy across the EU as a key instrument for the inclusion of individuals with disabilities in all areas of their life, including the access to work and employment. Additionally, EASPD has stressed to the European Commission that the future EU Action Plan on Social Economy recognise the roles played by social economy enterprises and social service providers towards the inclusion of persons with disabilities. EASPD's postion paper highlights that the initiative should recognise the diversity of the sectors involved and the significant contribution of the not-for-profit social services and social economy enterprises. Additionally, key goals of the EU Action Plan on Social Economy should be 1) supporting social economy organisations in creating more social impact and in being more resilient and 2) creating an environment where social economy organisations operate on the basis of fair competition with mainstream companies.
Creating a facilitated environment for the social economy should also be a priortity. This can be acheived by:
- Facilitating a better use of the clause on reserved markets in the area of public procurement,
- Adapting the State Aid policy and the EU fiscal rules to be used to cover the additional expenses/costs that employers may face if they employ persons with disabilities, and;
- Using the EU funds in a way to encourage the development of social economy.
It is also important that the European Commission create a specific platform for dialogue among social service providers at EU level and that it launches a campaign for job creation in the social economy in order to maximise the potential of the sector.
In the framework of the future EU Action Plan on Social Economy, EASPD is also supporting social economy as a major player in the digital and green transition. In the short term, socio-economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic is the priority. The implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights and ensuring fair and just green and digital transition are crucial elements to trigger the potential of social economy. More specifically, those economic areas related to social economy enterprises and social service providers whose objective is the support of disadvantaged categories. In the long term, the context of social economy should be supported with a strong focus on adapting legal, political and financial frameworks in order to provide stability and a supportive environment to social economy actors, especially to social economy enterprises and social service providers, which can play a crucial role in the EU economic recovery and in fulfilling the EU social and green priorities.
The EU Action Plan on Social Economy is expected to be unveiled by the end of 2021. EASPD suggests that the European Commission structures the EU Social Economy Action Plan in a way to provide a strong support to social economy enterprises and social service providers as the main contributors to inclusion and to the support of fragile and excluded categories of individuals. This should be achieved with concrete actions supporting local, regional and national actors involved in the creation of inclusive and decent jobs, social impact, social innovation and social entrepreneurship.
To read EASPD's full position paper, click here.