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Published on 31/01/2020by redazione

Social enterprises and their ecosystems in Europe: the Comparative Synthesis Report now online

The Comparative Sinthesis Report of EU Mapping Study is now available.

Drawing on the findings from the 35 national reports, this comparative synthesis report provides an overview of the social enterprise landscape in Europe based on information available as of January 2020. This comparative analysis goes beyond the observation of social enterprise in each country to identify traditions, trends and challenges across Europe.

Here the full report

Information on EU Mapping Study

Country reports

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Published on 27/06/2019by redazione

Euricse at 7th EMES International Research Conference

EURICSE researchers Giulia Galera and Stefania Chiomento, together with EURICSE president Carlo Borzaga, are participating in the 7th EMES International Research Conference on Social Enterprise held from 24th June to 27th June in Sheffield (UK).

They contributed to one semi-plenary session chaired by professor Jacques Defourny entitled “Mapping of social enterprise and its ecosystem in Europe”, where they summarized the main findings of the European study funded by the DG Employment “Social enterprises and their eco-systems in Europe”. Professor Nadja Johanishova, professor Bernard Enjolras and Risto Raivio, Senior Expert at the DG EMPL, European Commission, also contributed to the discussion by providing their own insights based on the critical transversal analysis of the Mapping Study Country Reports.

Giulia Galera speaking during the session on mapping

Add to this, Giulia Galera and Paolo Boccagni (University of Trento) organized a special session aimed at discussing the findings of recent research on innovative welcome and integration pathways – addressed to asylum seekers, protection holders, refugees and migrants – that have been designed by grass-root social enterprises in four selected EU countries: Italy, France, Germany and Spain.

As highlighted during the conference, these countries show significant variations when it comes to the role played by social enterprises in the asylum and migration domains. Key variations concern the organization of welfare service delivery; the national model of reception designed by national governments to welcome asylum seekers and the degree of centralization; what selection mechanisms are used to recruit private providers; whether there are any national schemes supporting employment and labour market access of asylum seekers.

Giulia Galera during the special session on migrants

“Despite country variations, there are some common challenges that are faced by social enterprises. These are mainly connected to the increase in number of volunteers that are willing to help recipients, to the recruitment and training of new staff, and to the types of interactions established by social enterprises with public authorities”.

Giulia Galera, senior researcher at Euricse

Discussion focused particularly on the role, potential and limitations faced by social enterprises on the one hand and on the policy strategies that could be put in place to fully harness the contribution of social enterprises in facing social transformations connected to the inclusion of newcomers in receiving communities, on the other hand.

Here the list of papers discussed during the session:

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Published on 21/05/2019by redazione

The future of social enterprises in Europe: Euricse and Emes present the Mapping Study in Brussels

Researchers from all over Europe met in Brussels on May 16th and 17th to discuss the present and future of social enterprises. Over the last two decades, organizations defined as social enterprises have become increasingly important, but their real size and role are still misunderstood in most EU countries. For this reason, the European Commission commissioned the European Research Institute on Cooperative and Social Enterprises (Euricse) and the EMES International Research Network (EMES) to conduct the in-depth study “Social enterprises and their eco-systems in Europe”. 

The report is a follow-up of the 2014 Mapping Study of 28 countries and its 2016 update to seven of them, which contributed to providing a first comparable picture of social enterprise dynamics across 28 EU countries and Switzerland. The refining of the methodology, as tested in 2016, improved the accuracy of the application of the Operational Definition to better capture recent developments in the field. An innovative “stakeholders engagement strategy” was utilized during the revision of the country reports to ensure that key input from national stakeholders was incorporated. Four categories of stakeholders were identified: academic, policymaker, practitioner and supporter. 

We have already posted an overview of the first reports and are now pleased to present an update with the most important results of the last fiches. 

Country report: Denmark. Authors: Lars Hulgård and Lisa Chodorkof. The origin of “social enterprise” in Denmark can be traced back both to the mid- to late-1800s with the farmers’ and workers’ cooperative movements and the emergence of voluntary associations and non-profit organizations a few decades later. In the modern age, the concept of social enterprise started to gain public attention and influence after 2000. Today, there isn’t a single database available to determine the exact number of social enterprises in Denmark; however, it can be estimated that, in the last year, approximately 411 Danish social enterprises would meet the EU operational definition. Among these, 251 are third-sector-based social enterprises, 96 are market-based social enterprises with a Registered Social Enterprise (RSV) status, and 64 are municipality-based social enterprises, also with an RSV status. In 2017, a total of 4,932 people were employed (both part-time and full-time) by social enterprises with an RSV status. For the future, many interviewed for this study said that social enterprise is a sector still in its developing phases and predicted a “slow and steady” growth, but they admitted also that there are various constraining factors to face, particularly due to the current lack of government support.

Country report: Czech  Republic. Author: Eva Fraňková. The historical roots of social enterprises in the Czech Republic extend back to the emergence of worker cooperatives, mutuals and associations in the mid-19th century. These organizations focused on financial, consumer and production mutual aid and self-help. Before World War II, more than 16,500 active cooperatives operated in Czechoslovakia. During the communist regime (1948-1989), some associations and cooperatives survived but lost their autonomy and democratic bottom-up structure. The concepts of social economy and social enterprise have slowly entered the public sphere only after 2000 and in particular after the entry of the Czech Republic into the EU in 2004. The total estimated number of potential social enterprises in 2018 is 3,800. According to the surveys, Czech social enterprises mostly function as small businesses with around 15 employees. For the future, consulted stakeholders perceive great potential in developing a national strategy for social enterprises. On the other hand, lack of a broader political support of social enterprises, high bureaucracy, excessively complicated legislation and administrative burdens can negatively impact the sector.

Country report: Slovenia. Authors: Tatjana Rakar, Zinka Kolarič. Although the concept of social enterprise is new in Slovenia, the country has a long tradition of civil society self-organization. The status of social enterprises was introduced in 2011, with the adoption of the Social Entrepreneurship Act, which provides a definition of social enterprise. The legal category of social enterprise captures only a small share of social enterprises in Slovenia. Among the ex lege social enterprises, private institutes, cooperatives and associations comprise the most common legal forms. Among de facto social enterprises, private institutes rank as the most numerous, followed by associations. The future development of social enterprises depends on the interpretation of their definition and role in society. Some stakeholders consider social enterprises primarily as enterprises while others aim to strengthen the role of non-profit associations and private institutes—currently the strongest drivers of social enterprise—in Slovenia. This implies a potentially divided future.

Country report: UK. Authors: Fergus Lyon, Bianca Stumbitz, Ian Vickers. The term “social enterprise” has been used in the UK since the 1970s and in the 1990s it has been boosted by the pioneering public policies. It is estimated that there are 30,800 social enterprises with 19,500 Company Limited by Guarantee/charities, 7,000 active Community Interest Companies and 4,300 cooperatives (Industrial and Provident Societies/Registered Societies) shown to have both social aims and trading activity. There is a diverse range of income sources: 60% serving the general public, 54% having government contracts (with 20% having this as their main or only source), 52% having income from private sector businesses, 50% having income from the third sector and 43% having sales to other social enterprises. Public support has become increasingly patchy across the UK, with the exception of Scotland where there continues to be a range of relatively well-funded programmes and networks. So, the most important future challenges relate to the nature of the economy and associated uncertainties.

Country report: Norway. Author: Lars U. Kobro. Membership-based voluntary organizations contributed significantly to the creation of public welfare from mid-18th century to World War I. During the post-World War II period, up until the early 1980s, the Norwegian Labour Party rose as the dominant driving force for a strong state responsibility for social issues. It was the origin of the term “welfare state”. From the late 1970s and early 1980s, the introduction and rapid spread of New Public Management (NPM) principles created deep roots in the public sector although it did not disrupt the state-dominant model. This situation is still present although today we are in front of a “fourth wave” of the welfare state where social enterprises and social entrepreneurship could play central roles. The very good conditions that have framed the Norwegian welfare model in the last decades, in fact, are about to shift. There is no specific legal act regulating social enterprises in Norway, but it is estimated there is a minimum of 295 social enterprises, the majority operating as limited companies and voluntary organizations. Many enterprises have the municipality or other local and regional public entities as their main client, mainly for the delivery of welfare services. As a perspective, social enterprise remains quite an immature political and economic field in Norway, but the interest is evolving from a stage of anonymity and very low awareness to a present stage with higher public attention. 

Country report: Netherlands. Author: Niels Bosma. The Netherlands provides a largely conducive ecosystem although it does not have a dedicated legal form for social enterprises. One of the implications of the absence of a legal form or dedicated national level policy is the very scarce availability of quantitative information about the size and scope of social enterprises. Currently most social enterprises focus their activities on work integration and circular economy, while companies addressing problems in global value chains are frontrunners in terms of growth and impact, and serve as role models for other social enterprises as well as mainstream companies. In this contest, the Dutch public procurement law provides opportunities to stimulate social enterprises, although it is not clear how and to what extent social enterprises can take a role in safeguarding the current state of the Dutch welfare.

Country report: Portugal. Author:  Sílvia Ferreira. Until recently, the term “social enterprise” was almost absent from the political and practitioner discourse. Indeed, the main obstacle for the further development of social enterprises in Portugal is the lack of debate, clarification and some sort of agreement about its definition. The Satellite Account of the Social Economy provides the possibility to estimate the existence of 7,938 social enterprises, employing 145,734 FTE workers. Social enterprises play a central role especially in providing social services through cooperation with public administration. The types of jobs in social welfare activities tend to be permanent. For the future, stakeholders affirm that social enterprises will play an increasingly relevant role in social welfare, in particular thanks to the new generations that are trying to find innovative and sustainable solutions for the increasing social needs – especially in health and social security – after years of austerity.

All of the completed Reports and Fiches are available here. The remaining country reports will be published in the coming months.

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Published on 08/08/2018by redazione

Social Economy, Salvatori in the European Commission’s expert group


Gianluca Salvatori, Euricse Secretary General, has been appointed member of a new expert group on “Social Economy and Social Enterprise” set up by the European Commission’s Social Business Initiative (SBI). The purpose of this new group will be to discuss and agree on developing and strengthening activities related to the development of the potential of the social economy and social enterprises, aiming to promote innovation and positive impact on the economy and society at large. The expert group’s actions will focus on 5 pillars: access to finance, access to markets, better framework conditions, new technologies and social innovation, as well as the development of an international dimension.


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Published on 25/10/2017by redazione

Update of the mapping of social enterprises and their ecosystems in Europe

Together with the EMES International Research Network, Euricse has recently won the call for tenders launched by the European Commission (Directorate General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion) for the “Update of the mapping of social enterprises and their ecosystems in Europe”.

The objectives of the project are threefold.

Firstly, it aims at updating the country reports on 21 EU countries that were published in 2014 as a result of the first mapping study promoted by the European Commission. Seven country reports had been updated during the second phase of the mapping study, carried out in 2016, which targeted seven EU countries.  (more…)

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Published on 26/10/2016by redazione

Social enterprises and their eco-systems: developments in Europe

The number of social enterprises in Europe is increasing and they are engaging in new fields. Many countries are introducing new legislation as well as new support schemes to boost the development of social enterprises.

Both public and private markets offer new opportunities for social enterprises to start up and grow, reveals the new report “Social enterprises and their eco-systems: developments in Europe” published by the European Commission. The research was conducted by independent academics supported by the Euricse and EMES network . (more…)

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Published on 21/10/2015by redazione

Giulia Galera elected member of the new EMES Board of Directors

We are pleased to  announce that our researcher Giulia Galera has been elected new member of the  EMES Board of Directors, which was nominated by all members of the the network in October 2015. The election process lasted five months with open call for candidates from around the world and a final e-voting system in place. (more…)

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Published on 16/09/2015by redazione

Meet Yiorgos Alexopoulos, research fellow at Euricse

Social Enterprise between social impact and financial needs

Yiorgos Alexopoulos is researcher at the Agricultural University of Athens (Greece) and Senior Research Fellow at Euricse in the framework of the project “Research in Social Enterprise, its social impact and its financial needs”(RiSE GRIT). The project is awarded by a Marie Curie Action – Intra-European fellowships for Career Development (IEF), 7FP.  (more…)

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Published on 14/07/2015by redazione

Personalisation and Social Entrepreneurship, a concluding analysis

We report some concluding comments on the European Summer School on Social Economy from Dina Rakin*.

Two years ago I heard about the ESSE Summer School from my dearest colleague. “Since you are curious about the social economy world and you are into questioning so many aspects of it, this school is for you”, she said. And she was right. Simple explanation, maybe too obvious. (more…)

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Published on 08/07/2015by redazione

European Summer School on Social Economy, the second day described by Dina Rakin

Dina Rakin* shares her impressions on the second day of the European Summer School on Social Economy in Bertinoro.

Dennis R. Young and Silvia Ferreira, lecturers of the day, were committed to place the concept of personalisation into the existing theory and practice of Non-Profits, mainly Social Economy and Social Entrepreneurship.  User is the key word. How the type of financing of Social Enterprise and its legal form influence users and how the characteristics of a social entrepreneur respond to the users! (more…)

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Published on 30/06/2015by Barbara Franchini

Euricse at the 5th EMES International research conference on Social Enterprise

Following the Pre-conference forum, the 5th EMES International Research Conference on Social Enterprise “Building a scientific  field to foster social enterprise eco-system” has officially started today with the plenary session “Social Enterprise and the third sector: Changing landscapes in an international perspective” chaired by Marthe Nyssens, founding member of the EMES European Research Network and Professor at the University of Louvain. (more…)

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Published on 01/04/2015by redazione advanced training course “Public-private partnership”

The new edition of the advanced training course “Public- private partnership” will take place in Trento, on the 16-18 of April and on the 7-9 of May. is a course organized by Euricse designed specifically for cooperative managers and social entrepreneurs, who wish to broaden and deepen their professional and managerial skills focusing on the most important and strategic topics pertaining to managing a cooperative enterprise. (more…)

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