Readers note: European readers, TV viewers, citizens, in general, are regularly confronted with terms like the Austrian presidency or the Finnish Presidency of the EU. Newspapers and news broadcaster are often caught in the rush of breaking news to properly make these EU notions accessible to all. Fear not! We are here to help you navigate these institutional waters and then we will lead you to the country that is currently holding the Presidency.
The European Institution, which represents the interests of all 28 Member States, is the Council of the European Union. Together with the European Parliament (which represents the interest of European citizens), the Council legislates and decides over new directives and regulations (the European laws). The Council’s political priorities and calendars are set by one Member State at a time for the time span of 6 months each: this the famous rotation Presidency of the European Council.
At CECOP, we have proposed to our readers a focus on our national members when their country is holding the rotation Presidency of the European Council. Until the 1st of January 2024, the Presidency of the European Council is ensured by Spain.
Interview with Mr. Luis Miguel Jurado (LMJ), President of COCETA (La Confederación Española de Cooperativas de Trabajo Asociado - or in English, the Spanish Confederation of Worker Cooperatives).
CECOP (C): COCETA has been supporting worker cooperatives in Spain for 35 years. What have been the main achievements of these 35 years?
Luis Miguel Jurado (LMJ): Of these 35 years, I would highlight the territorial structuring that has been achieved, with a current presence in most of Spain's autonomous communities, and the widespread recognition of the role of worker cooperatives in the great challenges we face as a country. COCETA has promoted the development of the social economy as a driving force for policies that directly affect all cooperatives and other Spanish social economy enterprises.
Furthermore, the Confederation has managed to show that worker cooperatives are truly different enterprises, with people at the heart of their actions and decisions. We defend a more sustainable and inclusive business model, which generates quality and intelligent employment.
COCETA has also provided a regulatory framework that helps the development of the model throughout the country, adapted to the peculiarities of each territory.
C: Spain took over the Presidency of the Council of the EU from 1 July until 31 December. Many important dossiers for cooperatives are on the negotiating table during this period, such as the Council Recommendation on the development of framework conditions for the social economy or the Directive on platform work. What does COCETA expect from the Spanish Presidency?
LMJ: We hope that the Spanish Presidency will take advantage of the opportunity to reaffirm the leadership of the Spanish cooperative movement and social economy in Europe and worldwide, with worker cooperatives being the driving force behind the joint model. The Presidency should be one of the important milestones on the road travelled in recent years of collaboration and alliances between public authorities and representative bodies.Alliances that are essential for tackling the major challenges we face as a country and which generally coincide with those that the European Union as a whole is facing, such as more sustainable business models, quality employment, reconciliation, reindustrialisation, environmental crisis, depopulation of rural areas, digitalisation, etc..
The moment is better than any other before, there is an alignment of elements that favour greater recognition of the social economy, but we must take advantage of it so that recognition is converted into greater transformative capacity. The Presidency period is a perfect context to approve, unanimously, the Council Recommendation on the development of the framework conditions for the social economy, giving an important collective impulse that will be translated into the design and practice of concrete strategies in the Member States.
The European Social Economy Conference to be held on 13 and 14 November in Donostia will be a good showcase for the cooperative movement in Spain and its contribution in terms of a type of economic and social management that integrates economy, welfare and environment.
With regard to the European Directive on Platforms, it would be fantastic if it were approved within the framework of the Spanish Presidency, and it would make perfect sense, given that in our country progress has already been made on this issue through the so-called Rider Law.
Mostly it is important that this Directive appears to be useful and does not remain something light that does not improve, above all, the working conditions of a sector that is so dependent on the algorithm. The Directive shall propose specific measures to equalises the sector competitiveness in the single market. Worker cooperatives have an answer here, which is what CECOP advocates at European level, and which introduces factors that substantially improve working conditions and the protection of platform workers.
C: In recent years, the interest of policy makers in the social economy has increased. For example, at the end of 2021 the European Commission launched its Social Economy Action Plan and more recently the UN GA voted on a resolution on the Social and Solidarity Economy. What do you see as the reasons for this infatuation and what are the opportunities for cooperatives?
LMJ: The prevailing economic models have shown themselves to be unsustainable and harmful to the planet. It is not only our determination in showing that cooperativism and the social economy offer solutions, but there is a real and urgent need to review the development models that have brought us to the current situation.
C: COCETA has recently announced that 1190 new worker cooperatives were created in Spain in 2022. The country has also seen several cooperative success stories. What do you think is the reason for the success of cooperatives in Spain?
LMJ: I insist on a good public-private alliance for the promotion of the cooperative and social economy model, with the Ministry of Labour and Social Economy being a good pillar for these policies. The development of public policies to promote the value of the model is fundamental, together with the good work being done by our territorial organisations in the autonomous communities and the need for entrepreneurs to seek more participative, sustainable models that help reconciliation, are a good combination for the creation of cooperative enterprises.
C: The EU is going through a green and digital transition, and businesses such as cooperatives are at the forefront of the changes that this entails. How do you see your collaboration with CECOP contributing to this process?
LMJ: CECOP has an essential role to play in influencing European public policies linked to worker cooperatives. We have to highlight and present good cooperative practices that are leaders in the ecological and digital transition necessary for our enterprises. CECOP must also be vigilant so that these regulatory frameworks favour our cooperatives and be vigilant of other models that have nothing to do with the cooperative model, but which want to occupy the space of cooperative enterprises or the social economy.
C: Thank you for your time!