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The European Parliament pinpoints the contribution of cooperatives to overcoming the crisis

4 July 2013 [ English ] français ]

On the eve of the International Day of Cooperatives, the European Parliament has approved in plenary session the report on the contribution of cooperatives active in industry and services to overcome the crisis presented by the Italian MEP from the group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) and Vice-President of the Commission for Industry, Research and Energy, Patrizia Toia.

The report stresses the importance of cooperatives in the EU in economic, social and employment terms stating that cooperatives in Europe contribute, on average, around 5% to the GDP of the Member States. The document underlines particularly the role of cooperative enterprises in industry and services which provides jobs for 1,4 million persons. The document states that over the last few years, “several hundred industrial and service cooperative enterprises have been established as a result of the restructuring of businesses in crisis or without successors, thereby saving and re-developing local economic activities and jobs”. According to the paper, reasons for that include the cooperative model of governance, the metod of capital accumulation and the cooperation among cooperatives that “allow cooperatives to sustain themselves even in the most trying times”.

The European Parliament urges the European Commission to focus attention on business transfers to employees, under the cooperative form, and in this sense to create services dedicated especially for this task. Member States are also asked to develop legal frameworks to facilitate business transfers to employees, including adequate financial mechanisms. In order to financially support business transfers under the cooperative form, a European financial instrument is required – with the participation of the European Investment Bank - as well as the use of Structural Funds.

The report recognizes the strong impact on regional development that industrial and service cooperative groups are having, this can be demonstrated in Emilia-Romagna (Italy) or the Basque Country (Spain). The Parliament calls on the European Commission and the Member States to facilitate and promote clusters of cooperatives and inter-SME collaborative networks, such as those that already exist under the cooperative form, since they sustain micro and small enterprises and help them to cope better with market and innovation challenges. Cooperative organizations cannot be considered in marginal terms. The European Parliament urges Member States to review legislation applied to cooperatives in general and in particular to worker, social and artisans’ cooperatives. In fact the document considers necessary an approach based on the recognition of this reality that operates, and which is rooted in Europe. In this sense, the Parliament regrets than no mention to cooperatives is made in the Entrepreneurship 2020 Action Plan.

CECOP welcomes this report since the latter demonstrates that the European Parliament has taken into account recommendations addressed during the last few years and notably in the report; “The resilience of the cooperative model. How worker cooperatives, social cooperatives and other worker-owned enterprises respond to the crisis and its consequences” published by CECOP in 2012. CECOP will closely monitor and regularly assess the impact of this important resolution on public policies towards industrial and service cooperatives in Europe, both in the European institutions and EU member states.

You can read the report here

Photo: Patrizia Toia, MEP from the group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) and Vice-President of the Commission for Industry, Research and Energy