The OECD has been working for over two decades on policies for the social and solidarity economy (SSE), including in collaboration with the European Union. In 2020, the OECD launched the Global Action “Promoting Social and Solidarity Economy Ecosystems”, funded by the European Union’s Foreign Partnership Instrument, to support its development and internationalisation. The Action has focused on two critical policy levers that can help unlock the potential of the social and solidarity economy, namely legal frameworks and social impact measurement, in addition to other drivers of a strong policy ecosystem. The Action has brought together international peer learning partnerships to share good practices, produce international statistics, and take a deep dive on particular themes (e.g., internationalisation and social procurement) as well as particular groups (such as youth leading social enterprises, women and refugees). Countries targeted by the Action include all EU member states and six non-EU countries (Brazil, Canada, India, Korea, Mexico, the United States).

Through its work stream on legal frameworks, the OECD Global Action provides 1) analysis of existing frameworks and specific laws for the SSE, 2) pros and cons of legal options and approaches that can be used in different contexts, and 3) policy guidance and good country practices to help policy makers effectively design, implement and evaluate legal frameworks that support the development of the SSE.

Legal frameworks, when deemed appropriate, support the recognition of the SSE, raise its visibility and help to take it mainstream. The SSE is diverse and has evolved differently across countries and sometimes even within countries. Legal frameworks are a policy area that reflects this diversity. They are often closely linked to factors such as local history, legal traditions, the nature of the administrative organisation and intervention, and the need to achieve specific objectives such as for job creation or to serve specific communities. Also, they can help to clarify the purpose and role of the SSE and the types of entities that engage in it.

This guide will help policy makers make the most of legal frameworks for the SSE through a step-by-step guidance, in particular, to define the rationale for legal frameworks and select the relevant legal options and approaches. The guidance also provides examples of measures to complement laws with other policy tools such as fiscal and procurement policies to reinforce their efficacy. Finally, it provides concrete examples and tools to involve stakeholders throughout the different phases of the legal life cycle.

This policy guide was developed by the Centre for Entrepreneurship, SMEs, Regions and Cities (CFE), as part of the Programme of Work and Budget of the OECD Local Employment and Economic Development (LEED) Programme. It was approved by the LEED Directing Committee on 23 February 2023 via written procedure.

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