Study on Cross Border Activities for Social Economy

Promoting Cross Border Activities for Social Economy, Including Social Enterprises (Contract No EASME/COSME/2018/032)

Logo of the project "Study on Cross Border Activities for Social Economy"

Funding Source

European Commission – Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises


November 2019 – September 2021 (23 months)

Total budget

199,175.00 €

Q-PLAN role

Project Coordinator

Contact person(s)

Mr. Konstantinos Bougiouklis,



The study “Promoting Cross Border Activities for Social Economy, Including Social Enterprises” is set to inspire social economy actors to engage in the Internal Market through the uptake of cross-border activities, and accordingly inform policymakers on EU and national/regional levels what to do in this perspective. To this end, the Study Team will assess and diffuse successful transnational initiatives and activities of social economy actors, i.e. social enterprises, associations, mutuals, non-profit organisations and others, identified in 14 EU Member States (AT, BE, CY, DE, ES, FI, FR, GR, IE, IT, NL, PT, RO, SI) and 3 COSME countries (Turkey, Albania, Serbia) as well as corresponding European and national policies.

The objectives that the project aims to achieve include:

  • Assessment of the state of play in transnational activities of social economy actors to identify the barriers, challenges and opportunities social economy actors face when undertaking cross-border activities and compare these to traditional SMEs – with particular attention to be paid at how the regulatory framework supports (or not) such kind of endavours
  • Collect, analyse and discuss good practices of cross-border social economy activities to inspire and encourage more social economy actors to be involved in transnational activities through presenting illustrative examples;
  • Identify policies, programmes and initiatives – public and private – supporting the internationalisation of social economy actors in all 14 EU Member States and 3 COSME countries part of the study sample
  • Design a Guide with practical recommendations for social economy actors on how to undertake successfully cross-border initiatives, by building on relevant experiences of others
  • Propose recommendations for social economy business models and strategies, and for conducive policies and frameworks at EU & national/regional levels to increase the political visibility of social economy and reinforce social economy actors to undertake transnational activities.

The key outputs of this project are:

  • The compilation of a pool of 50+ social economy practices undertaking transnational activities that demonstrate: i) a consistent impact model; ii) a sustainable business model; and iii) a replication perspective.
  • The organisation of a European co-creation and validation workshop in which more than 40 stakeholders from all over Europe and beyond to discuss on the drivers, benefits, challenges and risks associated with the internationalisation of social economy actors and what new pathways, tools and practices, policy needs, and opportunities exist, or should be co-designed with social economy actors to support them in following such activities.
  • The Guide, a practical document aimed for social economy actors and supporting intermediary organisations that will describe solutions and pathways of successful social economy actors engaged in transnational activities, so as to help others improve their strategies and implementation processes.


The study is carried out by Q-PLAN INTERNATIONAL (lead) together with the United Nations University – Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT), Ashoka CEE (Ashoka), and Sociedade Portuguesa de Inovação (SPI) and the following subcontractors: Dr Dimitri Gagliardi and Dr Effie Amanatidou.

Q-PLAN responsibilities

  • Project management and coordination;
  • Participation in the identification and selection of social economy practices successfully involved in cross-border activities across 14 EU Member States and 3 COSME Countries;
  • Organisation of a co-creation and validation workshop with the participation of a wide range of stakeholders, to discuss about the current issues and new approaches towards the promotion of cross-border activities across the European social economy;
  • Contribution to the formulation of practical recommendations for policymakers as well as intermediaries and social entrepreneurs on the stimulation of cross border activities;
  • Design of the Guide for social economy actors including practical guidelines and recommendations for social entrepreneurs wishing to undertake cross-border activities, based on the experiences of others, complemented by information on available programmes, policies and initiatives identified in the study’s countries sample
  • Participation in the design and implementation of the awareness raising activities of the project and the dissemination of the study’s results on EU and national/regional levels