The July 6, 2022 plenary of the European Parliament saw the approval of report “on the EU action plan for the social economy” drafted by MEP Jordi Cañas and a number of shadow rapporteurs; it received 493 votes in favour, 75 against and 69 abstentions. The CECOP celebrates the fact that the report sends a very strong message of recognition and support to cooperatives, including specifically worker cooperatives. Among others, it calls on the Member States to create a favourable legal environment for cooperatives and to promote worker buyouts.
The report highlights the following features of cooperatives (in particular worker cooperatives) and their federations, and calls for increased policy and practical support:
- “cooperatives can play a role in the democratisation of digital work, for instance by creating worker-owned labour platforms”,
- “a legal and policy framework that adequately protects and promotes worker cooperative enterprises, a set of policy measures aimed at facilitating business transfers to employees and a high level of organisation and consolidation of worker cooperatives in organisations/federations contribute to successful business transfers to employees”,
- the report “highlights the contribution of social economy organisations, and in particular cooperatives, to combating undeclared work”,
- it commends “that workers’ buyouts can be a possible solution to preventing the job losses arising from a restructuring” and “stresses the need for the Commission to keep on working closely with the Member States to identify tools and solutions to remove obstacles and speed up legal procedures to transfer the ownership of an enterprise to the employees through worker cooperatives or other forms of worker-owned social economy entities”. Additionally, the report “welcomes the use of targeted EU funding for projects aimed at developing and enabling the transfer of enterprises to their employees and thus the continuity of the business, including through a takeover by a workers’ cooperative”,
- it “highlights the distinct nature of renewable energy cooperatives in the social economy”,
- and very importantly, the report “underlines the importance of promoting the cooperative model and its principles of workers’ participation and democracy; encourages Member States to create a favourable legal environment for the establishment and functioning of cooperatives, including worker’s cooperatives”.
In addition, the report contains a number of important points on social economy as a whole, which CECOP sees as highly relevant, including:
- it recognizes that “the social economy offers untapped job creation potential and is an important tool for fighting social exclusion and poverty”, and that social economy organisations “are an intrinsic part of the European social model”,
- it recognizes the sustainability and resilience of social economy,
- it “asks the Commission to identify a clear role for the social economy in the upcoming European care strategy”,
- it notes that “the social economy plays an important role in promoting the inclusive green and digital transition” and acknowledges that it needs increased support to undertake these transitions, including skills development,
- it encourages inclusion of social economy entities in the curricula at all educational levels and promoting social economy among young people,
- it calls for development of social impact measurement for social economy,
- the report points out that the EU Member States have to overcome the barriers for social economy entities and “enable the consolidation and development of the social economy”. It calls on the Member States to promote direct, targeted public funding (including full use of EU funds and access of social economy entities to NextGenerationEU funding in the context of their national Recovery and Resilience plans) and private investments in social economy,
- it invites Member States to use quality, social and environmental criteria in public procurement,
- finally, the European Parliament’s report asks to facilitate social economy entities’ access to state aid, in particular, “to ensure that the upcoming revision of State aid ensures greater flexibility for social economy entities providing social and healthcare services”, “to better include social considerations in the area of State aid”, and calls on public authorities at all levels to “make full use of the possibility to recognise social economy entities carrying out an economic activity as an SGEI [service of general economic interest] where relevant”.
We are grateful to the European Parliament rapporteur Jordi Cañas for taking on board a number of CECOP’s suggestions in this report and look forward to a swift implementation of its recommendations.
The final text of the report (in all EU’s official languages) can be consulted here.