This study has been realised between February and April 2008 in the framework of the Equal project PROMES. It has been commissioned by FISE (the Polish Federation of Social Economy Initiatives) in order to understand the panorama of the social economy in Europe and to acquire information and contacts with the main social economy actors at European and national level. The first part of the study describes how European institutions deal with the social economy and the bodies and groups that have been set up in the last decades to favour this relationship. The second part examines a large number of European networks and organisations representing the social economy or dealing with it. The third section examines the situation in some European countries.