Nuno Gama Pinto, 2022
Member of the AASO Advisory Board. University Professor, PhD in Management, Manager and Business Administrator.
Almost two years after the start of an unprecedented crisis on a global scale, the European Commission has just presented an action plan1 to support the Social Economy. Despite the time that has elapsed, it is hoped that the European Commission's initiative can help reinforce the intervention capacity and resilience shown by a sector that generates 8% of the European Union's Gross Domestic Product and employs almost 14 million people.
In May 2021, at the social summit held in Porto, organized by the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union, the European Commission had already presented an action plan, aimed at putting into practice the 20 principles (which are also taking a long time to get off the ground ) set out in the European Pillar of Social Rights2, highlighting the relevance and contribution made by the different entities and organizations of the social economy in this domain. The same happened in the presentation of the Single Market Annual Report3, where he also made a point of highlighting the importance of the social economy in updating the European Union's industrial strategy, as an integral part of its ecosystem and of the priorities defined to accelerate the green and digital transitions , and reinforce resilience and social cohesion.
The proposal presented by the European Commission sets out three main objectives:
- Creating the right conditions for the social economy to thrive
Considering that political and legal frameworks are fundamental for creating an environment conducive to a prosperous social economy, namely in terms of taxation, public procurement, and state aid, the European Commission argues that these reference frameworks will have to be adapted to the needs specific to the social economy. In this sense, it will propose, in 2023, a Council recommendation on the development of framework conditions for the social economy, as well as guidelines for Member States on fiscal frameworks for social economy organizations and also on state aid.
- Create opportunities for social economy organizations to start and strengthen their activities
In the plan presented, the European Commission argues that social economy entities should benefit from support to start and develop their activity, but also to reconvert and improve the skills of their workers. In the current financial framework, for the period 2021-2027, the Commission intends to increase the amount of support available for the social economy, in addition to the estimated 2.5 billion euros granted in 2014-2020.
- Ensuring recognition of the social economy and its potential
With this objective in mind, the action plan aims to make the social economy more visible and improve recognition of its work and potential. In this sense, the European Commission will promote, through various initiatives, the role played and the contribution made by the social economy in different areas, also seeking to collect, by carrying out a study, qualitative and quantitative data on the sector in order to better understand the dimension and importance of the social economy in the European Union.
However, even though the European Commission can (and should, in our opinion) play a more active role in this and other areas, namely in legislative matters, the responsibility for the application of the European Pillar of Social Rights and for the execution of the action plans above, is largely a matter for the Member States. It is they who will be responsible for creating the conditions, with the support of the European Commission, but also, it is important to underline, the national plans for recovery and resilience, which allow the different entities and organizations of the social economy to carry out, with the necessary resources, the its functions, thus reinforcing, with its contribution, the commitments assumed under the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, namely that of «promoting inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all ».
2 Approved at the Social Summit for Fair Employment and Growth, held in Gothenburg in November 2017, the European Pillar of Social Rights defines 20 essential principles and rights that aim to ensure equity and the functioning of labor markets and systems of social protection in the European Union.
Article taken from the site ver.pt