Social economy in Europe

Social entrepreneurship contributes to the development of economy based on solidarity and in that way helps countries-members achieve an array of key goals of European Integration such as creating and maintaining work positions, social engagement and innovation, rural and regional development, preservation of environment and others. This business model is spreading in Europe, gaining influence and can be thought of as a foundation of the European project of integration.

A larger part of Europe saw the need for existence of different, non-classical ways of business which is not based solely on making a profit. Not all people are in the same position to equally take part in market “game” for various reasons – medical, educational, existential and other. The principles of liberal economy cannot be universally implemented everywhere and in every place. There are parts of the community which are special and more often than not marginalized, but still have the need to adequately take part in normal life and business.

In the last thirty years in Europe, more and more attention has been devoted to social economy as a way of softening the effects of globalization, technological advancement and economic crisis. In spite of that the situation regarding the existence of a legal framework, financial and other ways of support is different from country to country, and to this day a widely accepted definition of social economy has not been established yet.

It is considered that around 2 million legal entities in countries-members of the European Union, which represent around 10% of all legal entities, do business following the model of social economy and employ over 14 million people, which makes up for 6.5% of employees in the European Union.

In its conclusions from December 7th 2015 the European Council for employment, social politics, health and consumer affairs of Committee (EPSCO) appealed to the member-countries and the European Committee to “establish, apply and further develop the appropriate European, national, regional and/or local strategies and programs for strengthening social economy, social entrepreneurship and social innovation”. That same document encourages constructive dialogue amongst European, national, regional and/or local authorities and all other interested parties which, according to the Committee, should be focused on the following strategic areas: awareness, recognition and education, social innovation, regulative environment and access to finances.