European Commission announces plans for €90m social enterprise fund

The commission's Social Enterprise Initiative will help start-up schemes to access funding and development opportunities

European Commission
European Commission

A €90m (£77m) fund to support the development of social enterprise has been proposed by the European Commission.

The commission made the proposal as part of its Social Business Initiative, its strategy to support social enterprise across Europe, which it launched yesterday.

The fund aims to "facilitate access to funding for start-up, development and expansion of social enterprises" and invest in other funds that invest in the social enterprise world, in a manner similar to Big Society Capital.

However, EU budget planning means it is unlikely to be set up before 2014.

The fund is separate to a €50m (£43m) investment fund provided by the European Investment Fund, which is expected to open next year. But the two funds have similar models.

The Social Business Initiative also announced a number of other changes that the commission plans to introduce, including a European framework to facilitate social investment, and changes and clarifications in procurement and state aid rules to make winning contracts and investment simpler for social enterprises.

The European Economic and Social Committee, a body set up to consult on and influence European Union policy, today published its own list of recommendations to develop social enterprise, which include the gathering of knowledge on social enterprises and the creation of a cohesive policy across the union.

Sir Stuart Etherington, chief executive of the NCVO and a member of the third group of the EESC, which represents not-for-profit bodies, said that the initiative showed the importance of civil society to the EU.

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