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CEPES in Europe

CEPES in Europe

EUROPE is the priority region in the international activity carried out by CEPES since measures taken by the European Institutions have a direct impact on the development of Social Economy enterprises.

CEPES monitors European affairs and takes part in the drafting of official documents by European Institutions by writing reports and proposals and being continuously in contact with officers at the European Commission and European Parliament. Furthermore, CEPES collaborates in the organisation of the main European Social Economy events, such as the European conferences on Social Economy that are held as part of the six-monthly Presidencies of the Council of Europe.

Social Economy has become increasingly relevant in European policy. Since 2000, European Institutions have prepared more than 200 official documents that acknowledge the importance of Social Economy in job creation, social inclusion, the fostering of entrepreneurship, access to social services of general interest or social cohesion. This has led European Institutions to establish departments or forums specializing in Social Economy:

  • THE “EUROPEAN ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL” (EESC) includes a SOCIAL ECONOMY CATEGORY that brings together 39 representatives from cooperatives, mutual societies, associations, foundations and social NGOs whose mission it is to foster and promote issues relating to Social Economy in the decisions drafted by the EESC as consultative body.
  • THE SOCIAL ECONOMY INTERGROUP OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT serves as specialised forum for Members of the European Parliament and European representatives of Social Economy to tackle regulation that affects the sector and to start initiatives (reports, events, etc.) to foster its development. CEPES participates in the meetings and activities of the SOCIAL ECONOMY INTERGROUP. It is also linked to SOCIAL ECONOMY EUROPE, which is the European organization for Social Economy in charge of supporting the activities carried out by the Intergroup.
  • The EUROPEAN COMMISSION and, specifically, the DIRECTORATE-GENERAL FOR INTERNAL MARKET, INDUSTRY, ENTREPRENEURSHIP AND SMEs includes a Clusters, Social Economy and Entrepreneurship Unit with which CEPES has collaborated in several projects and initiatives. This Unit continues the work carried out by a similar Unit that existed within the former European Commission, as part of DG Enterprise and Industry.

CEPES coordinates its own activities with those of other representative organisations of European Social Economy, thus supporting the sector’s unity of action in defending common interests and proposing measures presented at the European institutions. Coordination is fostered by CEPES by being a member of:

  • SOCIAL ECONOMY EUROPE, which is the reference organization of Social Economy in the European Union, defending at the European Institutions the interests of an enterprise collective that amounts to 10% of European undertakings (that is, 2 million companies) that generate in excess of 14.5 million jobs. CEPES has chaired SOCIAL ECONOMY EUROPE since December 2015, leading the furthering of Social Economy at the European Parliament and the European Commission through task forces and forums in Brussels.
  • COOPERATIVES EUROPE, the organization that represents more than 160,000 co-operatives across Europe, generating 5.4 million jobs and having more than 123 million members. The Chairman of CEPES is member of the Board of Administration of COOPERATIVES EUROPE as representative of the associated-labour co-operative movement in Spain, and is continuously connected with other cooperative organisations in Europe and with the European Institutions.

The main objective of the work carried out by CEPES in Europe is to foster the establishment of a coordination framework between the European Institutions and the EU member states. The aim of this is to define measures and improve coordination between the variety of initiatives and programmes that exist in the European Union and, in this way, to make the most of the contribution that Social Economy makes to the social and economic development of the European Union.

Reference documents from the European Institutions and the representative organisations of the sector at European level are available here: Public Documents - Europe.

The main European Organisations that represent Social Economy and some of their member organisations are available here: Directory - Europe.


The relevance of Social Economy is leading several member states to follow the example of Spain by passing legal frameworks that regulate Social Economy. This is the case of France and Portugal.


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