On September 28-29, 2012 the Cyprus Presidency of the Council of the EU hosted a high-level cooperative conference in Nicosia as part of the EU’s contributions to the UN International Year of Co-operatives. Around 200 participants attended the event, which was organised by Co-operatives Europe and the Cypriot Authority for the Supervision and Development of Co-operative Societies.
The conference provided critical insights about the diversity and the economic weight of the European co-operative economy in particular to representatives from 17 member states’ government representatives.
Constantinos L. Lyras, Commissioner of the Cyprus Authority for the supervision and development of cooperative societies, said: “The long term view of co-operative enterprises has protected them against hazardous, speculative short-term focused investments. “
Neoklis Sylikiotis, Cyprus Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism, said: “Co-operatives ensure sustainability and are continuously developing and innovating“
Costas Andropoulos, official from the EU Commission’s Enterprise & Industry Unit, added: “Co-operatives are developing economic activities not only in the classic sectors of agriculture or banking, but also in various innovative domains, such as health or renewable energy. Those efforts must be preserved, promoted and supported.”
EU policies tend to focus on harmonising rules and regulations for enterprises in general in the EU. The discussions, however, stressed the need for a differentiated policy making approach for different forms of enterprises. The presentations and discussions highlighted the distinct co-operative form of business, which leads to different economic and social outcomes than their shareholding peers. Regulations taking those differences into account instead of pursuing a ‘one size fits all’ approach will clearly lead to better outcomes for policy-makers, co-operatives and the society at large.
The Commission’s current consultation about the potential revision of the European Co-operative Statute was discussed with member states on the second day of the conference. While there was no overall consensus about the right way forward with this regulation, given the small number of co-operatives having adopted it so far, most participants stressed the need for simplification and clarification of its key objectives.
Klaus Niederländer, Director of Co-operatives Europe and moderator of the different co-operative sessions, summed up the lively discussions by stating: ”In these times of economic uncertainty and social pressure in Europe, policy makers and co-operatives need to work more closely together to provide new solutions. Action is a must and simply waiting is not an option. New ways of collaboration will have to be tested.”
In this article
- Business models
- Constantinos L. Lyras
- Consumer cooperative
- Cooperatives Europe
- Cypriot Authority
- Cyprus Authority
- European Cooperative Society
- European Union
- Person Career
- Social Issues
- The Co-operative Group
- Types of business entity