European Parliament recognises co-operative model’s contribution

The European Parliament has acknowledged the role of co-operatives in business and as a means to achieve sustainable development.

The European Parliament has acknowledged the role of co-operatives in business and as a means to achieve sustainable development.

A motion has been adopted by the Industry, Research and Energy Committee (ITRE) for inclusion in the Entrepreneurship 2020 Action Plan that gives a new impetus to co-operative development.

The motion for resolution, proposed by Austrian MEP Paul Rübig, underlines that all measures proposed to promote entrepreneurship at national and European level should apply to all forms of enterprises, including co-operatives.

Agnès Mathis, Deputy Director at Cooperatives Europe, commented: “This report represents another step in the right direction towards a real recognition that in Europe there are different ways of doing business, which equally deserve the attention of policy makers."

This motion follows on from the support of the European Economic and Social Committee that pushed for inclusion in the 2020 action plan. Also, earlier this month, Patrizia Toia tabled a Directorate that was adopted by the EU Parliament that highlighted the contribution of co-operatives to overcoming the global financial crisis. 

“The goal is an official recognition, at European level, of the validity of the co-operative model. It is important to remark the fact that, at a time like this, characterised by severe economic crisis, co-operative enterprises are those that are adapting better,” said Ms Toia.

The Italian MEP also said that creating the Directorate focused on co-operatives and social enterprises, as well as a dedicated unit within the DG Enterprise and Industry, to stimulate the transfer of business to employees.

A key challenge for European co-operatives, said Ms Toia, will be to maintain innovation without losing their identity. “We live in a society characterised by great changes that are revolutionising the way we act and think. Co-operatives must be able to be competitive while maintaining their specific nature of companies managed in a democratic way by their members.”

The Directorate revealed that in spite of the severe economic climate, co-operatives have continued to play an important role in boosting economic growth across the EU. More than 160,000 co-operatives owned by 123 million people provide 5.4 million jobs.

Representatives of European co-operatives have also met with Antonio Tajani, Vice-President of the European Commision to discuss future priorities for co-operative development across the EU. Mr Tajani said: “Co-operatives are crucial for me and I want to work with your organisations, not only today, but also on an action plan and a strategy roadmap for the next Commission.”

Referring to the meeting, Dirk Lehnhoff, President of Coopertives Europe said: “Co-operatives deeply appreciated this high level meeting. We are very happy to see that Vice-president Tajani has opened a dialogue for the long term. Our organisation will be ready to give their contribution to the work of the European Union.”

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