Address: European Cooperative House
Avenue Milcamps 105, 1030 Brussels, Belgium
Telephone: +32 2 543 1033
Email: cecop@cecop.coop

Cooperatives must not be ignored in the EU Entrepreneurship 2020 Action Plan

18 February 2013 [ English ] français ]

PRESS RELEASE - Vice President Tajani will present tomorrow the Entrepreneurship 2020 Action Plan to the Competitiveness Council. This ambitious action plan is meant to boost entrepreneurship in Europe and generate employment opportunities. However, the Commission document disregards an important contribution to the European economy and employment potential: cooperative enterprises. In some EU countries, like Spain and Italy, worker and social cooperatives have not just resisted to the current crisis but have also increased number of jobs, in a situation where neighbouring enterprises where closing down and leaving thousands of workers on the brink of poverty and social exclusion*.

When discussing the roadmap for the implementation of the action plan, EU ministers can ill afford to deny cooperatives’ contribution to sustainable economic growth and efforts to maintain and develop regional economic activities and industrial fabric, in line with the re-industrialisation of Europe called by Vice President Tajani.

An important part of the Entrepreneurship 2020 Action Plan is dedicated to the transfer of businesses. Here again, the Action Plan makes no reference to the diversity of forms of business transfers that we can find on the ground, like the hundreds of successful business transfers to employees under the cooperative form that have taken place around Europe in the last few years. The action plan addresses the transfer of businesses mainly from the angle of the "failed entrepreneur" and with a focus on measures in favour of a second chance for the latter. According to CECOP, the European confederation of industrial and service cooperatives, business transfers should not be addressed only as a career prospect for one individual - the failed entrepreneur - but as an entrepreneurial and employment solution for European citizens and regions at large, which is particularly relevant in the current situation of massive job losses and enterprise closures.

“Promoting all types of business transfers, including business transfers to employees, is in the core interest of the European countries and regions: local wealth and skills are maintained. Especially in the current situation, the EU can ill afford to deny successful experiences of enterprises and jobs being saved”, insists Bruno Roelants, Secretary General of CECOP.

Cooperative SMEs in various industrial and service sectors have also been among the pioneers of enterprise regroupings, networks and clusters, through which they cooperate in their innovation and internationalization drive. Inter-SME collaborative networks under the cooperative form should be encouraged by the Entrepreneurship 2020 Action Plan, as those networks considerably reinforce the sustainability of the micro and small enterprises. Such networks are also virtually the only way in which micro and small enterprises can be a source of innovation.

The UN 2012 International Year of Cooperatives has contributed to shed light on cooperatives as sustainable enterprises, capable of strong economic performance combined with a core social mission, even in times of crisis. Their experience could be a great source of inspiration for the development of SMEs in Europe at large and should be taken into consideration if we want an effective and sustainable Entrepreneurship 2020 Action Plan.

Tuesday 19th February Competitiveness Council-

Diana Dovgan – Policy Officer - diana.dovgan@cecop.coop
Leire Luengo – Communication Officer - leire.luengo@cecop.coop

CECOP’s answer to the European Commission consultation “Entrepreneurship 2020 Action Plan”: http://www.cecop.coop/IMG/pdf/cecop_position_entrepreneurship_2020_en.pdf

*The resilience of the cooperative model. How worker cooperatives, social cooperatives and other worker-owned enterprises respond to the crisis and its consequences”: http://www.cecop.coop/IMG/pdf/report_cecop_2012_en_web.pdf

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