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Last week, our new CEO, Suzanne Huisse-Wiskes, attended the first meeting of the new European Commission Expert Group on Social Economy and Social Enterprise in Brussels (we tell you more about what this is here). Here are a few take-aways…

The European Commission wants to push the agenda on social entrepreneurship and social finance, that’s undebatable. And during this first Expert Group meeting, the organisers made a point in refreshing our minds about the current initiatives of the European Commission for the sector:

  • The European Social Economy Regions project (DG GROW): in the past 6 months, European Commission staff have been meeting with local actors of the social economy and social enterprises in over 30 countries; this to create better connections with organisations working on the ground. The next step of the project? A series of exchange trips between different local authorities involved in the development and support of social enterprises.
  • The Better Entrepreneurship Policy Tool (DG GROW & OECD) which allows policy-makers and other stakeholders at local and national level to take a short online survey, assessing their own social enterprise policy ecosystem. The results can be used as policy-inducing guidelines, while the tool itself points towards all relevant material available on-line to do so and includes best practices. Euclid network is proud to have contributed to its development (those who were at the Euclid Summit 2018 with us may remember testing it live!). Try it here!
  • The MedUp! Project (DG NEAR) actively promotes social entrepreneurship and seeks to build a stronger support ecosystem for the sector in the Mediterranean region. Together with other partners, including Oxfam Italia, Euclid Network is implementing this project with a specific focus on identifying the needs for and/or of the support organisations for the sector in 6 countries.

While those actions are already taking place, the EU has more in pipeline for us! Here’s what to look forward to in the next years:

  • The Commission announced the update of the current ‘Buying Social Guide’ dating from 2010, which aims to assist policy-makers to make better use of social clauses in public procurement (to favour social-impact focused enterprises). Some months ago Euclid attended a high-level round-table exploring socially responsible public procurement; more about the topic here.
  • The European Commission revealed, in a little more detail, its plans for bringing together all their investment programmes under a new action entitled ‘InvestEU’. InvestEU would direct money to social enterprises through its ‘SME window’ and ‘social window’. In total, it’s 4 billion Euros that would be allocated to social innovation (including social enterprises) from 2021.

Obviously, the Commission hasn’t been idle! Yet, it’s been some time since the well received Social Business Initiative of 2011 that no strong policy move has been made for the sector at EU level. Let’s hope the Expert Group can help in shaping the next!

So, what’s on the – working – table for the Expert Group? Well, Euclid will certainly be pushing for a stronger focus on access to innovative finance and impact measurement tools. We’ll be exhorting to find more efficient ways to nudge consumers and public authorities to buy social and ethical products and will seek support for more cross-border learning opportunities among social entrepreneurs and their support organisations.

Next Expert meeting expected in 6 months. To be continued…

“It’s been some time since the well received Social Business Initiative of 2011 that no strong policy move has been made for the sector at EU level. Let’s hope the Expert Group can help in shaping the next!”

What’s an expert group?

The European Commission can set up an expert group when it needs specialist advice from outside experts (like Euclid Network) as a basis for sound policymaking. This consultative body is set up by the Commission is composed of 40 experts from the private sector  (check all members here), 40 experts from the public sector and observers from organisations such as the OECD and the UN.

Get involved

If you would like to find out more about the European Union’s developments on social enterprise or provide feedback, contact the Euclid team.

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