Cecop reveals policy manifesto ahead of EU elections

Cecop represents 40.000 co-operatives employing 1.3 million people

European industrial and service co-ops have set their policy priorities ahead of the European elections on 6-9 June.

The priorities were highlighted in a manifesto published by the European Confederation of Industrial and Service Co-operatives (Cecop) on 9 April.

As the voice of 40.000 co-ops employing 1.3 million people, Cecop’s main objectives for the next five years are “quality jobs, sustainable and resilient re-industrialisation and innovation for the benefit of all”.

Cecop’s manifesto argues that co-ops “guarantee equal opportunities for everyone to achieve decision-making power” and “bring equity and democracy to the workplace”.

This business model is resilient and innovative, adds Cecop, with a governance model that “guarantees adaptability when facing hardship”.

“The fact that they reinvest the profits allows them to focus on a scale that conventional enterprises cannot afford to: the long-term,” reads the manifesto. “Our enterprises need a long-term re-industrialisation strategy to ensure strategic independence, with a special focus on traditional industries that require specific support to cope with the digital and green transitions and to become more resilient to shocks.”

Cecop also mentions that co-ops “combine social and technological innovation, have the potential to democratize the internet and promote more transparent and ethical technology for the benefit of all.” The manifesto argues that by being community-owned, co-ops “fight social exclusion, reduce social inequalities, and cover unmet societal needs” and calls for states to “engage in long-term planning partnership models with community-based providers, such as co-operatives”.

Related: Co-ops react to European Commission proposals to simplify tax rules

To further support the sector, Cecop suggests 13 concrete demands, including recognising and promoting the worker-ownership model; supporting co-operative entrepreneurship, as a model of collective entrepreneurship that generates quality employment; and encouraging member states to adopt legislation allowing co-operatives to operate in all sectors as well as enable new co-operative typologies, such as multi-stakeholder co-operatives, co-operative platforms or co-operatives of autonomous workers.

Another area of concern for Cecop is EU legislation and regulation. In this respect, the apex suggests ensuring conditions for workers’ buyouts, including legislative and financial support; recognising the social function of co-operatives within the EU Competition Policy and State Aid regulations; and applying a “co-operative test”, similar to the “SME test”, analysing the possible effects of EU legislative proposals on co-ops.

Cecop also sees a role for member states in supporting co-ops by shifting from public procurements towards a more integrated partnership model, based on a joint analysis of community needs and long-term planning of services of general interest and significantly increase investment in social infrastructure and in the care sector.

At EU level, the apex wants reform of public procurement rules so bids are evaluated on social and environmental considerations as well as price; the continuity of the social economy intergroup in the European Parliament; and support for national co-operative financial instruments prioritising scale-up and major investment.

Candidates for the 2024 European elections wishing to support worker and social co-operatives can pledge support for Cecop’s manifesto via its website.