With European elections approaching, sector body Cooperatives Europe has published a strategy paper outlining its key priorities and recommendations.
It has also started a campaign, Coops Inspire Change, to build a new network of co-op supporters – candidate MEPs who pledge to support the recommendations of the co-operative movement. This will also encourage co-operative communities to vote and ask members to share stories of co-operation.
Another strand of the campaign is the newly launched elections.coopseurope.coop website, which showcases existing co-op supporters, the social media campaign #CoopsInspireChangee, practical information on voting and a range of documents and resources for campaigners.
According to Cooperatives Europe, one in five people in the EU is a member of a co-operative. It says the social economy should be recognised as a key segment of the economy and the European Pillar of Social Rights (EPSR) should remain a priority on the political agenda.
And it wants to see the EU’s entrepreneurship policies promoted across all of enterprises models, taking into account the specifics of co-operatives when designing measures for finance, education and other key areas.
Other policy goals include an appropriate and enabling regulatory framework for co-ops; investment in young people to help them develop co-operative entrepreneurial projects; and recognition of co-ops as development actors in the EU External Investment Plan.
The strategy also touches on environmental sustainability, gender equality and female entrepreneurship policies.
Cooperatives Europe has also signed a partnership with the European Parliament to encourage people to vote. It is asking European co-operators and supporters to pledge #ThisTimeImVoting at www.ttimv.eu/cooperatives and share this link with their networks.
Jean-Louis Bancel, president of Cooperatives Europe, said: “In building up a sustainable Europe, the incoming members of the new European Parliament can rely on the co-operative movement to link their actions to citizen’s needs. This campaign is not only about the election, but about a new vision for the future.”