Euro Coop, the European Community of Consumer Co-operatives, kicked off 2012 at a joint press conference on 12 January launching the United Nations International Year of Cooperatives (IYC) in Europe.
The press conference, held at the offices of Copa-Cogeca, focused on the many contributions of co-operatives to the Europe 2020 strategy and highlighted key policy priorities for the upcoming year.
As pioneers in the fields of youth inclusion, education and information to consumers, sustainable consumption and production and employment, European consumer co-operatives, or co-operatives operating in the retail sector, hope to use the IYC as a platform to share with policymakers their initiatives to build a better Europe.
Euro Coop Secretary General Rodrigo Gouveia said, “Consumer co-operatives are particularly invaluable to meeting the objectives laid out in the EU2020 strategy, in that they preserve the rights and choices of consumers while paving the way for innovative, sustainable and inclusive growth.”
Throughout 2012, Euro Coop will work with policymakers to improve European food, retail, sustainability and consumer policies and showcase consumer co-operative innovations, such as their ethical relations with operators in the food supply chain, the development of social and environmentally sustainable products or the safeguard of consumers’ rights.
Along with Euro Coop, speaking at the press conference were MEPs Luis Manuel Capoulas Santos (Portugal) and Pervenche Berès (France) and representatives from event co-organisers Cooperatives Europe, Copa-Cogeca (agriculture), Cecodhas Housing Europe, Cecop (industry and services) and EACB (banking).
The national organisations of consumer co-operatives in 18 European countries make up Euro Coop. Founded in 1957, Euro Coop today represents the interests of over 4,500 local and regional co-operatives owned by a total of 30 million consumers across Europe, employing more than 450,000 people and accounting for €74 billion in annual turnover.