European Foundation
for the Improvement of
Living and Working Conditions

The tripartite EU agency providing knowledge to assist
in the development of better social, employment and
work-related policies

EU PolicyWatch

Database of national-level policy measures

Eurofound's EU PolicyWatch collates information on the responses of government and social partners to the COVID-19 crisis, the war in Ukraine, rising inflation, as well as gathering examples of company practices aimed at mitigating the social and economic impacts.

Factsheet for measure EU-2021-50/2101 – measures in European Union

Plan to boost social economy after COVID-19

Country European Union , applies eu-wide (or beyond)
Time period Open ended, started on 09 December 2021
Context COVID-19, Green Transition, Digital Transformation
Type Other initiatives or policies
Category Ensuring business continuity and support for essential services
– Remuneration and rewards for workers in essential services
Author Barbara Surdykowska and Eurofound
Measure added 22 December 2021 (updated 21 January 2022)

Background information

The term social economy refers to entities operating by providing goods and services to the marketplace with social and / or environmental goals as a reason for their commercial activities. In 2019, Nicolas Schmit, EU Commissioner for Employment and Social Rights, was mandated to draw up a European Action Plan for the Social Economy.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the fundamental role that the social and solidarity economy plays in building a fairer and more sustainable society and has made the case for moving to a fair, sustainable and resilient economic model even stronger than before. These experiences were the impetus for the presentation of the final version of the plan by the European Commission on 9 December 2021, after detailed consultations with many stakeholders.

Content of measure

The Action Plan aims to help develop the European social economy by harnessing its economic and job creation potential, and its contribution to a fair and inclusive economic recovery and to the green and digital transformation.

In the opinion of the Commission, the Plan will be a key factor in increasing social investment and supporting social economy entities and social enterprises in starting their activities, increasing the scale of their activities, introducing innovations and creating jobs throughout the European Union.

A series of initiatives is proposed in three areas:

  • creating the right conditions for the development of the social economy;
  • opening up opportunities for social economy organizations to start up and scale up;
  • ensuring that the social economy and its potential are recognized.

The Action Plan announced a number of key actions to support the social economy, for example:

  • Council Recommendation on developing framework conditions for the social economy;
  • a new EU Social Economy Gateway, intended to be a clear access point for social economy actors, other relevant actors and those seeking information on appropriate EU funding, policies and initiatives;
  • a new European Competence Center for Social Innovation.

Use of measure

Not applicable.

Target groups

Workers Businesses Citizens
Other groups of workers
Sector specific set of companies
Does not apply to citizens

Actors and funding

Actors Funding
National government
Company / Companies
Other social actors (e.g. NGOs)
EU (Council, EC, EP)
European Funds

Social partners

Social partners' role in designing the measure and form of involvement:

Trade unions Employers' organisations
Role Consulted Consulted
Form Any other form of consultation, institutionalised (as stable working groups or committees) or informal Any other form of consultation, institutionalised (as stable working groups or committees) or informal

Social partners' role in the implementation, monitoring and assessment phase:

  • Unknown
  • Main level of involvement: Unknown


Social partners were consulted as part of open public consultations.

Views and reactions

According to the EU trade unions (ETUC) the initiative is an useful initiative for a under-appreciated and often-neglected sector.

According to the EU employers (SGI Europe) the action plan rightly identified the main challenges for the social economy.


  • 09 December 2021: Building the economy that works for people: an action plan for social economy (
  • 09 December 2021: SGI Europe comments on Social Economy Action Plan (
  • 10 December 2021: Social Economy Action Plan modest but useful (


Eurofound (2021), Plan to boost social economy after COVID-19, measure EU-2021-50/2101 (measures in European Union), EU PolicyWatch, Dublin,


Eurofound publications based on EU PolicyWatch

30 January 2023


Measures to lessen the impact of the inflation and energy crisis on citizens

Governments across the EU continue to implement policies to support citizens and businesses in the face of rising food and energy prices caused by the COVID-19 crisis and intensified by the war in Ukraine. This article summarises the policy responses as reported in Eurofound's EU PolicyWatch database from January to September 2022.


12 September 2022


First responses to cushion the impact of inflation on citizens

Although the worldwide pandemic situation had already disrupted supply chains and triggered increases in energy and food prices in 2021, the situation deteriorated in 2022 with the Russian invasion of Ukraine.


12 September 2022


Policies to support EU companies affected by the war in Ukraine

This article summarises the first policy responses that governments across the EU have started to implement to support companies affected by the rising prices, and those with commercial ties to Ukraine, Russia or Belarus.


5 July 2022


Policies to support refugees from Ukraine

This article summarises the first policy responses of EU Member States, including those of the social partners and other civil society actors, enabling refugees to exercise their rights under the Temporary Protection Directive.


Disclaimer: This information has not been subject to the full Eurofound evaluation, editorial and publication process.