European Venture Philanthropy Association

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The EU’s Social Business Initiative

Posted on by EVPA


The EU’s social business initiative

In 2011, the European Commission proposed amendments to the European Single Market. After a consultation period with individuals and organisations, the EU decided on ten proposals including the Social Business Initiative, aiming at improving the environment for social entrepreneurs.

At the end of 2011 the European Commission took a step forward in setting the foundations for a strong European market for social investment funds with its proposal for a regulation. The proposal set out a new “European Social Entrepreneur Fund label”, so that investors can easily identify funds that focus on investing in European social businesses. Setting a European framework and a clearly recognisable EU brand for social investment funds is now a vital process for a more transparent investor market and greater investor confidence.

In the next few months the proposal will pass to the European Parliament and the Council (Member States) for negotiation and adoption under the co-decision procedure.

The issues raised at European level are close to the heart of EVPA and a number of our members are contributing to the discussion:

“I consider this a mayor achievement for venture philanthropy/social investment in Europe. It is great that the topic has come so high up on the agenda of the EC, and that they make fast and serious progress with it. Fostering the social entrepreneur sector will be of vital importance in a Europe that will necessarily see government retreat from multiple tasks. The next step for the initiative will be to experiment with various forms of support for social entrepreneurship and to foster the early signs of success. The early shoots of successful social entrepreneurship and social investment should not be strangled by regulation and supervising bodies.”

Pieter Oostlander, Director, Shaerpa

“Today’s discussion in the Parliament is very important because when the regulation is adopted it will be the cornerstone for our emerging sector in the following years, with the objective of being operational for the next EU budget in 2014.”

Olivier de Guerre, Chairman, PhiTrust

“I hope the regulation will be as effective and unbureaucratic as possible in order to promote this emerging sector.  It needs to be supported especially by institutional investors that are sophisticated and do not need heavy regulation”

Luciano Balbo, Founder, Oltre Venture