The co-operative sector has responded to the State of the Union speech delivered on 12 September by president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker.
Addressing the European Parliament, Mr Juncker announced a series of policy proposals around immigration, Brexit, the economy, the 2019 elections and strengthening the union’s partnership with Africa.
Responding to the speech, Cooperatives Europe, the regional organisation of the International Co-operative Alliance, said it agrees with president Juncker on the need for “a strong and united Europe” but argued this would only be achieved by ensuring strong links with citizens.
And it regrets the omission of the White Paper on the Future of Europe, an initiative that puts citizens at the heart of building and determining the future path for Europe.
In February Cooperatives Eurpe stressed the importance of co-operatives in achieving a “more inclusive and sustainable Europe”, as set out in the Future of Europe white paper. The organisation also argued that the speech had not adequately addressed the Sustainable Development Goals theme.
Jean-Louis Bancel, president of Cooperatives Europe commented: “As Europe faces numerous challenges, co-operative, as well as social economy enterprises, must be seen as key partners for the EU in offering solutions that put the focus back on the people and back on our values. To move forward, we now need a stronger commitment from the European institutions to our movement, as together we preserve the diversity and richness of Europe.”
Mr Juncker also proposed a new Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs between Europe and Africa. Cooperatives Europe is currently engaged in discussions on the EU External Investment Plan.
The Commission president also called for stronger anti-money laundering supervision and enhancing the role of the European Banking Authority.