Through a video message, the Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta underlined that cooperatives are “the pillars of social economy and a virtuous example of resilience to the crisis to replicate and support”. In fact, despite the general trend of growing unemployment in Italy, it is estimated that between 2007 and 2011, employment in Italian cooperatives has increased by 8%. “Finance must be subsidiary to the real economy and wealth must be created by people’s work. The Italian government is stressing on the central point of employment because work is at the very heart of our Italian Constitution.” The Prime Minister concluded with an important message for cooperatives “We will listen to you. Go ahead, we will do our part bringing our recipe to the European Council". Flavio Zavonato, Italian Minister of Economic Development, reported on government priorities, such as measures in favour of youth employment, enterprise access to finance and a solution to late payments from local authorities. He also called for a closer collaboration with the cooperative movement: “cooperatives are an important interlocutor with whom we are open to cooperate. We welcome your suggestions”. Giuliano Poletti, President of The Alliance of Italian Cooperatives, explained the reason of such resilience: “it is our way of functioning, which is based on participation, transparency and close ties in the communities”. This model has allowed cooperatives to grow and innovate in growing sectors like the green economy or welfare services and develop new types of cooperatives such as community cooperatives. Maurizio Gardini, President of Confcooperative and Vice-President of the Alliance of Italian Cooperatives, has called for stronger action against false cooperatives and concrete measures in favour of youth employment: “We hope that the European Council will lead to concrete measures to boost growth and development over the next two days”. In his closing speech, Rosario Altieri, President of AGCI, underlined : “The right conditions are needed to restart the development of the real economy, that is based on entrepreneurial skills and jobs. Cooperatives are ready to give their contribution, asking institutions for competence, determination and honesty in return”. Photo: Giuliano Poletti, President of The Alliance of Italian Cooperatives by AGCI Toscana