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Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

Join the committee for drafting a Code of Conduct for data management and sharing in the social economy: Call for Expression of Interest

On 9 December 2021, the European Commission adopted an action plan for the social economy. It included plans to develop a code of conduct (CoC) on data use and management to support technology uptake in the social economy.

Policy background

In its 2021 industrial strategy, the European Commission identified 14 industrial ecosystems important for the green and digital transition, recovery and strategic autonomy of the EU, one of which is proximity and social economy.

With the new action plan on the social economy, the Commission put forward concrete measures to help mobilise the full potential of the social economy. This plan announced amongst others an action to develop the CoC with stakeholders. 

This was further made concrete in the transition pathway for the green and digital transition of the proximity and social economy industrial ecosystem, released in November 2022. Among the 14 action areas identified, action area 11, ‘Data sharing, Data management & Code of Conduct’, clarified that the Commission will facilitate to “Develop a Code of Conduct for data collection, sharing and management in the social economy to build a community of practice” (action 23). 

During this pathway’s co-creation process, stakeholders confirmed the need to develop clear and ‘social economy specific’ standards and guidelines to use and share data (e.g. business data, public data as well as personal data based on primary or secondary data sources), following social economy principles and key-values. Consequently, stakeholders confirmed the need for private and public actors to develop a code of conduct for social economy data management and sharing (CoC-SE).  

The Commission has equally supported the development of a CoC for the tourism industrial ecosystem in 2023. This can be an inspiring example and give an idea about the expected results. See the tourism code of conduct.

The European Commission will act as a facilitator in this process and support the drafting committee members selected through this call for expression of interest. The European Commission will also use the services of an external contractor to support the drafting committee. 

Why a Code of Conduct for the social economy?

Pioneering actors in the ecosystem have shown that advanced data collecting, storing, validating, processing and sharing can be the basis of positive societal, social and ecological impact models and interventions. 

However, the data maturity in the ecosystem seems to be uneven as a result of limited capacity and awareness. Roughly speaking, the transition pathway highlights that a handful of pioneers are developing data-based intervention and business models in the social economy, but the majority of social economy actors do not have the capacity to do so. While the sector is rich with output and service-delivery data, that data is locked away or unusable in its current form. Fragmentation of data gathering methods, approaches, standards and strategies could decrease the power data has as a basis for knowledge building and hence ultimately prevent trust from spreading, which is a key condition for an economic system to thrive.

Looking at this untapped potential and the overall trends in the European and global industrial landscape, the ecosystem could benefit from making better and more innovative use of data to boost innovation within their impact models, develop data-driven services and business or organisational models, and optimise organisational processes, to be more sustainable and resilient against crises.

The transition pathway of the ‘proximity and social economy’ ecosystem also highlights the potential participation of social economy actors in (sectoral) common EU data spaces as well as other similar initiatives (e.g. national or local data spaces and alternative social economy-based data sharing initiatives). By raising awareness about the challenges and opportunities of data sharing in B2B, B2G, and G2G contexts, the CoC-SE could serve as the first step towards participation in such data spaces.

This could be particularly meaningful in domains such as health, care and social services, mutual insurance, environment, population & society, traffic information, water quantities, road and street (infrastructure), housing and public procurement. Moreover, at the local level, data and data-based services can be exchanged among public and private actors through Common Smart City or Community Data Platforms (Local Data Platforms). 

To further build data management capacity within the ecosystem, stakeholders participating in the co-creation of the transition pathway considered that it would be helpful to develop a ‘code of conduct’ establishing a set of principles for how data should be managed and used in the social economy, building on the existing EU regulatory framework, but also on social economy values and existing best practices for the use of business and public data commons.

What will the Code of Conduct look like?

A CoC-SE would be based on a comprehensive set of principles and standards whose purpose is to guide stakeholders in the social economy as well as their collaborative public/private partners on how to collect, process, validate, store and share data in a B2B, B2G or G2B context, taking into account the specificities and values of the social economy and in line with the EU regulatory framework.  

In doing so, the CoC-SE can be a tool to (i) boost data maturity in the ecosystem, (ii) support practically the arrangements needed for data-sharing activities and (iii) enable data-driven innovation in the social economy. 

The CoC-SE would be a non-binding document containing general principles for using and sharing data in the social economy, along with relevant definitions and user-friendly examples.

The CoC-Se does not address technical aspects of data sharing (such as technical protocols) and models for centralised aggregation of data.

How will the Code be developed? 

Interested private and public stakeholders can apply through this open call for expression of interest to be part of the drafting committee (organised under a Commission ‘special group’). A maximum of 25 members will be selected. 

Members will be invited to join four online technical drafting sessions organised between February and November 2024 (maximum of three hours per session). The final data will be announced in January 2024 in cooperation with the appointed contractor. Upon request of members, smaller drafting sessions can be organised, for example on a certain sub-topic.

Experts will be invited to present the CoC-SE to the social economy community in a public event organised by the European Commission at the end of 2024. 

During the first technical session, a chair of the drafting committee will be appointed. The chair will take the lead in the shaping of the exercise and will regularly liaise with the Commission services and the contractor. 

The purpose of the drafting committee is to draft the CoC-SE, including annexes (for example, templates for data-sharing agreements).

The appointed contractor will support in the development of drafting the CoC-SE, the annexes, templates for data sharing agreements, and collecting a series of best practices of data management and data sharing practices in the social economy. The drafting committee should validate this package. 

Why would you apply? 

Members of the drafting committee will have the opportunity to act as a leader in the proximity and social economy ecosystem regarding data management and data sharing practices by co-designing the CoC-SE. 

Through this participatory process, drafting committee members will help set voluntary standards for data-driven business models in the social economy, data-sharing practices for common, social and ecological good, as well as data-driven social innovations. 

Eligibility criteria

The following cumulative eligibility requirements are set for individuals interested in applying

  • Individual experts
    • with expertise in the social economy or representatives of organisations (public, business, civil society, research, public-private partnerships, etc.) 
    • active in the social economy (as defined in the 2021 Social Economy Action Plan)
  • Organisations representing or supporting social economy actors (federations, membership organisations, clusters, hubs, business support, tech centres, sector federations, etc. at EU national, regional or local level)
  • Individual experts on digital social economy (business) models
  • Sufficient knowledge of English to contribute to the discussions in a fluent manner

Experts can represent a private or a public organisation/authority or act in their own capacity.

Selection criteria

The Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (DG GROW) will select the members of the drafting committee by January 2024, taking the following elements into account

  1. Knowledge and expertise in specific areas related to digital social economy (business) models; digital social innovation; digital commons; tech for good; data for good; data cooperatives; social economy platforms models
  2. Knowledge and expertise in a specific data management and data sharing context as well as the most recent regulatory frameworks
  3. Outreach capacity to national or EU networks, expert groups, transnational projects, and international events
  4. Practical experience concerning data management and data sharing (e.g. research, public, business, civil society)
  5. Motivation and engagement to participate and contribute to the drafting committee

The Commission services will assess the application to ensure geographic and gender balance and reach a varied and diverse composition in terms of expertise.

The Commission has sole and absolute discretion to select the members based on these criteria. Therefore, applicants are not expected to comply with all selection criteria and can for example be selected based on a specific capacity/criteria.

A maximum of 25 members will be selected. In case the amount of eligible applicants exceeds this number at large, the Commission may decide to select more than the target of 25 Members to join the Committee.  

How to apply

We invite applicants to submit their interest by sending their motivation (showing how they comply with the eligibility criteria and the selection criteria) to join the drafting committee as well as their willingness to contribute voluntarily to the conceptualisation and drafting process of the CoC-SE. 

Please email your CV and a short motivation letter (1-2 pages) to GROW-SOCIAL-ENTERPRISEatec [dot] europa [dot] eu (GROW-SOCIAL-ENTERPRISE[at]ec[dot]europa[dot]eu) by 5 January 2024, 23:59

Please address questions to the social economy team of the Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs via the same email address.


By January 2023, all the applicants will be informed by email about the results of the selection procedure. 

The technical sessions will take place between January and November 2024. 

Practical arrangements

As this is a voluntary and stakeholder-driven exercise, there is no reimbursement possible for members of the drafting committee. The Commission supports the process by means of a contractor who will facilitate the process and help in the drafting. 

Currently, all meetings are foreseen to be organised online. In case a physical meeting will take place, members will be reimbursed (travel costs) and will be informed in due time.