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Cooperatives, a response to a sustainable economy

13 September 2011 [ English ] français ]

CECOP –CICOPA Europe, the organisation which represents cooperatives active in industry and services in Europe presented 2 new publications on 7th September at the European Economic and Social Committee in the presence of key actors from the European institutions and the press. The representatives from the European Commission, the Parliament and the European Investment Bank were all very enthusiastic concerning the presentation of these releases.

Luca Jahier, the President of Group III of the European Economic and Social Committee has highlighted decent work and the impact on economy that cooperatives make possible on a local level, as illustrated in the 2 books. He said that the cooperative model "is not known well enough and those books allow to highlight this models’ contribution to a more sustainable European economy".

Sven Giegold, an MEP and the rapporteur on European cooperative society and workers participation, has underlined the contribution of cooperatives to the European economy and the added-value that they represent for society. He declared that cooperatives maintained employment thanks to their own nature whereas the German state had to invest considerable amounts of money in order to reach the same objectives.

On the side of the European Commission, the reactions were also positive. Fernando Vasquez from the restructuring and adaptation to change Unit (DG Employment) has congratulated CECOP for the release of the 2 books saying that they were very interesting, not only for the EU institutions but also for a larger public. M. Vasquez has also said that there were certain characteristics about the way cooperatives are run which should be "part of the practice of all the European businesses". Among those characteristics mentioned, he quoted governance and the long- term strategic vision, anticipation to change, and cooperative’s ability to collaborate with different actors of the economy. He has also linked those qualities with the fact that cooperatives were more resistant to the financial crisis.

Concetta Cultrera from the Unit which works on the active inclusion of disadvantaged groups and the fight against Poverty (DG Employment) said that "the link between cooperatives and the 2020 EU strategy within the framework of an intelligent, sustainable and inclusive growth is very clear". Those terms suddenly make sense when reading the cases depicted in the books. Nicos Pantalos from the support for industrial innovation Unit (DG Enterprises) thinks that cooperatives should be promoted within the framework of clusters. The governance and the cooperation between those groupings of enterprises is extremely important in order to propose better services.

Olivier Debande, from the European investment Bank (EIB), underlined the social impact and the contribution of cooperatives to local development. According to him, the long-term vision of cooperatives is also a very interesting characteristic and he underlined at the same time that the EIB is also an institution which is looking at a long term perspective as cooperatives do.

The books address different angles about the intrinsic specificities of cooperatives which have allowed them to better resist to the crisis, to have a positive impact on employment and territories, and to anticipate change. "Cooperatives, Territories and Jobs" is a collection of 20 cases of cooperatives active in industry and services across Europe. "Beyond the crisis: Cooperatives, Territories, Finance - Generating wealth for the long term" is a study on how cooperatives anticipate change focusing on 3 countries: France, Italy and Spain.

The publications can be bought in the CECOP website at http://www.cecop.coop/-Publications-.

To read the news on the 2 books, click here.

Read the press coverage here.