Cooperatives Europe elects new president

Petar Stefanov has laid out his 12 pillars for the development of the European co-op movement

Petar Stefanov, president of CCU Bulgaria, has been elected as the new president of Cooperatives Europe for a one-year term.

Stefanov is the former president of the global federation for consumer co-ops (Euro Coop), current president of Consumer Cooperatives Worldwide, and has been President of the Bulgarian national apex, the Central Cooperative Union, since 2003. 

The election took place in Brussels on 24 May, as part of the Cooperatives Europe annual General Assembly, hosted by Belgian co-operative federation Febecoop.

Thomas Meyer of Coop FR and Vivian Woodell of Co-operatives UK were the two other candidates for the presidency. Between three candidates, Stefanov received 47% of the total voting weight. 52 organisations voted.

Stefanov addressed the Assembly and laid out 12 pillars for the development of Cooperatives Europe:

  1. EU Parliament 2024-2029
    To engage the network of MEP “COOP Supporters” committing to promote the co-ops movement.
  2. 2025 UN International Year of Cooperatives
    To unify members’ efforts to promote the slogan “Cooperatives Build a Better World”.
  3. Implementation of the Second International Cooperative Alliance-EU Partnership Agreement 2024-2029
    To co-operate for the success of the project and to utilise the funds for members’ benefits.
  4. Social Economy Europe 
    To join Social Economy Europe as a partner and position the co-operative business model as a driver of economic and social progress in Europe.
  5. Best co-operative practices
    To undertake national and sectoral leaders’ meetings to exchange good practices and initiatives, guaranteeing membership value.
  6. Youth
    To raise youth’s interest in career growth and participation in the governance bodies of co-operatives, and promote the co-operative model in new business spheres and digitalisation.
  7. COOP database
    To develop a COOP database with business evaluation criteria and to formulate a vision of the sustainable co-operative for the next 10 years.
  8. Legislation
    To improve co-operative legislation, guaranteeing the stable and predictable environment for co-operatives in all the European countries
  9. Budget
    A new budgeting approach for Cooperatives Europe. To look for new members and to develop the added-value of the organisation.
  10. Vision & Strategy
    To restore Cooperatives Europe’s influence in Europe. To look for a stable position with a vision and strategy in coordination with other co-operative bodies; specifically with the International Cooperative Alliance in view of maintaining a coordinated international and intercontinental action.
  11. Public Affairs
    To invest in strategic relationships with EU Institutions as active co-operative members of the European Union.
  12. Reinforce the good relationships among co-operative organisations 
    To re-establish stable relations among all members of Cooperatives Europe so that it becomes the meeting point for all the co-operative families of different regions (North-South-East-West).

Stefanov’s election follows the resignation of Susanne Westhausen due to health issues. Westhausen served as president of Cooperatives Europe for three years, and Stefanov now will complete the remaining one-year term of her presidency.

Cooperatives Europe says its team will work at both national and European levels, to prepare for the UN’s Second International Year of Cooperatives in 2025, among other initiatives, adding: “We are excited to embark on this new chapter under the leadership of professor Petar Stefanov and, led by a shared vision, look forward to achieving our collective goals for the cooperative movement in Europe.”