This opinion is the Committee of the Regions' contribution to the drafting of the European Commission proposal for a Council Recommendation on developing social economy framework conditions, as requested by the European Commission by a referral. The opinion calls for more supportive legal frameworks and policies on financing, taxation and public procurement to enable building vibrant social economy ecosystems. It also highlights the crucial role of the local and regional authorities in supporting social economy organisations in the territories, and stresses the need for an "operational concept" of social economy, respecting the diversity of already existing systems and including all businesses that meet certain organisational and operational criteria, in order not to exclude them from crucial support for developing this sector, including with the support of the EU co-financing and capacity building measures.
The CoR outlook opinion was very well received by the other institutions. Discussions were held with the EP Rapporteur, Social Economy Europe and the EESC, and most of the recommendatations from the opinion were being considered in the European Commission Proposal for a Council Recommendation on developing framework conditions for the social economy.
The Council adopted its first-ever recommendation on the social economy on 9 October, recommending to take measures in order to acknowledge and support the role of the social economy in:
easing access to the labour market, especially for vulnerable or underrepresented groups
fostering social inclusion, by providing accessible and high-quality social and care services
stimulating skills development, including skills needed for the digital and green transitions
promoting social innovation and sustainable economic development.
THE EUROPEAN COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS
- enhances the importance of vibrant social economy ecosystems which can build on supportive legal frameworks and policies on financing, taxation and public procurement, but also the creation of an institutional setup that involves a subsidiarity approach between the European, national, regional and local levels of government;
- calls for an "operational concept" of social economy, respecting the diversity of already existing systems and including all businesses that meet certain organisational and operational criteria, in order not to exclude them from crucial support for developing this sector. This would allow for more coherence and convergence in policies at European, national and regional levels and would ease mutual recognition (capacity to operate cross-border) and visibility of the social economy model;
- stresses the urgency of establishing modern and effective social economy policies and legal frameworks which facilitate access to finance and markets to achieve upwards convergence among regions and Member States, and the need to mobilise public and private funding tailored to the needs of the social economy; in this context, emphasises the need for enabling frameworks for the sector to develop cross-border cooperation and internationalization;
- identifies the lack of access to finance as one of the main obstacles preventing social entrepreneurship from prospering. It is therefore important to foster synergies among funding instruments and to continue mobilising private finance, patient capital and advisory support, tailored to the needs of social enterprises and social economy organisations;
- encourages Member States to mobilise resources from EU funding, including the Recovery and Resilience Facility, and establish, with the help of Invest EU, a "Guarantee fund for small and medium social economy entities";
- calls for policies promoting socially responsible public procurement and the inclusion of social requirements in tenders as a means to help develop the social economy.