21 February 2022

The French Presidency of the EU sets out to shape the Social Economy Action Plan “The Social Economy: The Future of Europe”

The Social Economy Action Plan (SEAP), which was presented by the European Commission on 9 December 2021, and which will pave the way for the social economy in Europe for the next eight years, is starting to take shape.

As outlined in our previous briefing on the action plan, there is a lot in the SEAP for philanthropy. Philanthropy’s entry points in the action plan range from the publication of guidance to Member States on the tax treatment of cross-border public-benefit donations and exploring mutual recognition; to launching dedicated co-investment mechanisms with foundations; as well as performing dedicated studies on philanthropy – among many more opportunities.

The EU French Presidency had planned to organise a two-day meeting related to the SEAP in Strasbourg on 17 and 18 February 2022. Due to Covid-19, this meeting has now been postponed to 5 and 6 May 2022. Philea is engaging with the organisers of the event to ensure that the philanthropy perspective is included. Philea is also closely liaising with Social Economy Europe (SEE), as a board member of this European umbrella organisation for social economy actors.

The French Presidency already organised on 17 February 2022 the first informal meeting of European Ministers for the Social Economy, welcoming twenty-three Ministers in Paris, alongside a webinar to enter into dialogue with the social economy sector.

In both events, Olivia Grégoire, the French Secretary of State reporting to the Minister for the Economy, Finance and the Recovery, with responsibility for the Social, Solidarity and Responsible Economy, alongside Nicolas Schmit, European Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, played a key role. The SEAP has been presented on both occasions as being built around three main axes:

  1. Recognising EU countries’ diverse range of traditions, practices and legal systems regarding the social economy in Europe and the need for work to draw on common features – here, Commissioner Schmit noted that the Council recommendations put forward by the European Commission shall also include fiscal measures.
  2. Identifying social economy entities and improving their access to funding instruments, both at national and EU level – in this context, the Commissioner mentioned InvestEU as a key tool to tie in private investments as well, for instance through the introduction of new financial products and an EU guarantee scheme for financial intermediaries.
  3. Measuring social impact as an effective way of ensuring better analysis and increased public authority support for the social and solidarity economy – this includes clarifying different terminologies to streamline knowledge and cross-border action of the sector.

The Paris meeting has paved the way for discussions in 2023 for a future Council Recommendation on developing social economy framework conditions, and in this regard, the Ministers asked the Commission to involve the Expert Group on Social Economy and Social Enterprises (GECES) – in which Philea holds a seat – in the implementation and monitoring of the Action Plan. At the webinar, MEP Patrizia Toia, who chairs the Social Economy Intergroup (SEIG) in the European Parliament, referred in her concluding remarks to the upcoming public hearing in the SEIG on the social economy, taking place on 4 March 2022, in which Philea will participate. Furthermore, the outcomes of both events will be presented to the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council (EPSCO) on 14 March 2022. The French Presidency conference “The Social Economy, The Future of Europe” is now scheduled to be held on 5 and 6 May 2022 in Strasbourg.


Hanna Surmatz
Head of Policy