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EUROPE COOPERAÏIVEs ÆBL Eurcpean Regior oflCA ' c/oCooperative Eurcpe House Avenue Milcamps . BÊ 1030 3russels 105 fe'. +322743 LO - office@coopseuKlpe.coop 33
In 2010, I believe that we can take some time to review the journey travelled together. The co-operative world has undergone many changes and, at times, has experienced several difficulties. However, today it is both strong and universally recognised. 1895 and 1995 are two founding dates. The former marks the foundation of the International Cooperative Alliance in London, making the ICA, together with the Red Cross, the oldest NGO in Europe. The second date is important since it gave the international co-operative world the opportunity to consider its principles once again, to reaffirm them and also to impulse a new dynamic process for the whole of the movement. 2005 marked the beginning of a new era, an era that sees our forces united and renewed within COOPERATIVES EUROPE, a European co-operative association that is unique in terms of the diversity of its members and the number of its component parts, but moreover in terms of its avowed intention to ensure that COOPERATIVES EUROPE becomes an institution recognised in Europe and beyond. Although this journey may seem somewhat modest in the context of our co-operative history, the fact is that, united in our diversity, we have made an effective contribution to a new cooperative development. The co-operative world has already experienced several phases of major development: first of all there was the original association-creating wave that saw the creation, in particular, of the first producer associations in the middle of the 19th century, followed by a second large wave that led, notably, to the creation of consumer co-operatives at the beginning of the 20th century and which was successively recognised by the legislator, culminating in the introduction of general cooperative legislation in the majority of our countries. Following a period of years in which the unbridled promotion and development of individualism resulted in co-operative solidarity being mistreated and misunderstood, a period during which our enterprises were often labelled as being ageing, the rediscovery of the modern nature of the co-operative model is both genuine and real. Our movements have experienced diverse forms of wealth and we have often witnessed an acceleration of working methods, a standardisation of practices, of services and certainly of mentalities. Many co-operatives have lived through these years by becoming economically stronger, whilst at the same time minimising their co-operative dimension in order to adhere to the prevailing rhetoric that placed the focus firmly upon economic performance. The sole expectation that both public opinion and the very times themselves had of enterprises appeared to be the provision of services or of products, with no particular attention being given to the legal forms adopted by these very same enterprises. Indeed, in some countries we even saw a wave of demutualisation of healthy co-operative enterprises or mutuals. This period also witnessed the collapse of the Soviet bloc, the arrival of the free market in the East and also the rejection of any collective form of enterprise. The cooperatives that had sometimes been instrumentalized by the State authorities blacklisted and some even faced with the threat of disappearance, both from an economic and legal point of view. It required all of the persuasive powers and the autonomous rebirth of these movements in order to enable them to obtain the right to envisage a new development. The moral and political support of the large cooperative movements in Western Europe has contributed to this rebirth. However, the clear-sightedness of consumers or producers and sometimes the will of the State and the local and regional authorities to maintain and to develop local employment, to promote forms of cooperation between enterprises and public/private partnerships, the successive jolts given to the system, first of all by a growth crisis and then by an economic and social crisis, have favoured a rediscovery of the virtues of the co-operative form. Our movement has been capable of growth away from the limelight. It has consolidated its position over the course of the years and has become hardened through its contact with an
increasingly competitive economy. Social difficulties and the current economic crisis would appear to be encouraging political representatives and a part of the population to once again recognise cooperatives as organisations that are capable of providing an effective response to the current social and economic challenges. This revived interest in co-operatives is primarily related to their good degree of economic resilience, the fact that they are anchored at the local level and their regular introspection that is fostered by their democratic governance. Today, co-operatives would appear to be widely appreciated by the general public. They are recognised as being a model for the future. Co-operatives are being established in the construction sector and in the areas of consultancy and new technologies and they also make it possible to bring individual workers together in different sectors of activity, thereby enabling them to pool their skills for everyone's benefit. For example, craftsmen and tradesmen may freely pool their skills. Co-operatives are also finding their place in the gaps left behind by the State authorities that are withdrawing from certain social sectors. There is no doubt that co-operatives are more complex today than they were in the past, but they are still the result of the very same reflex that is based upon cooperation, mutual aid or working together. Co-operatives find themselves in the limelight once again because they represent a way of living and acting a form of economic conduct that is more in phase with people's expectations. Our capacity to organise ourselves and to enter into dialogue has certainly facilitated the development of this better public recognition that enables us to compete on the market on an equal footing. Within the Europe Region of the ICA, since 2005 COOPERATIVES EUROPE has succeeded in bringing together the energies of the European sectoral organisations and of the national intersectoral organisations. First of all we had to define our operating rules as well as the organisation of relations with the members, the ICA and the European institutions. The opening of the European Co-operative House in Brussels is a strong symbol of our unity. At the same time, our association has also undertaken joint reflections and shared actions in order to both reinforce and to develop the cooperative movement in Europe. The ECS, State aids and the status of social shares are just a few examples from a wider range of our lobbying and communication activities. Through the reaffirmation of a plural identity, an identity that is more respectful of our fellow citizens, there is no doubt that we a writing a new and important page in co-operative history in a Europe that is, by and large, at peace. Numerous initiatives have been undertaken in recent years and particularly over the course of the last few months in order to take into account the new composition of the European Parliament and of the Commission. A contact group has been set up within the Parliament and a first meeting has been organised in Strasbourg. Several exchanges have been held with the Commission, notably on issues that are of great importance to our movements and to our enterprises. Not only do we work as a team, but we also entrust particular tasks to groups that have a particular area of expertise. Accordingly, the EACB has worked hard to raise awareness of the accounting specificities of cooperatives' social shares. CECOP has helped to shed light on the dynamics of SGIs. The various cooperative families have proven themselves capable of keeping a very close eye on a whole range of issues and this process has, in most cases, been accompanied by an appropriate response to the European institutions. Indeed, throughout 2009 a whole series of positions were drafted on a wide variety of subjects such as the Lisbon and EU 2020 strategies, social services of general interest, the small business act, the internal market and State aids, social inclusion or the services directive, the European Co-operative Statute. The sheer number of issues covered is a reflection of the attention and commitment of the co-operative movement to transversal subjects that have an impact on all cooperatives. We have also developed a system to monitor the Commission's documents and have responded to several calls for consultation. We have systematically reminded all concerned that cooperatives are guided by principles that have been defined at an international level and that the Commission may not claim to make a distinction based on criteria such as that of size.
Driven by the conviction that the co-operative model may live and thrive in all countries, several development projects have been launched: the COOPERASMUS project, cooperation with the Balkans... However, none of this work could have taken place without the professionalism and energy of our permanent staff, led by Rainer, and we would like to take this opportunity to extend our warm thanks to them. This work has been made possible by the climate of mutual trust and the active support provided by all of the movements who have demonstrated their willingness to suggest, torespond, to ask questions and to make proposals. Finally, we should both recognise, and pay tribute to, the enthusiasm and dynamism that Dame Pauline Green has been able to inspire (coinspire) throughout her term of office as co-president. We must ensure our future development whilst at the same time safeguarding our specificities. In order to achieve this, our enterprises have several assets at their disposal to respond to the expectation of the citizens, entrepreneurs, consumers and workers and the public authorities. By remaining true to their values, today's co-operatives represent a new form of modernity. In the context of the current crisis, the original model of the co-operative enterprise would appear to be a factor of stability, security and solidarity that is capable of contributing to economic development as well as to social progress within living communities. The affirmation of our models of enterprise as an example of resilience and as an opportunity for diversity and creativity in a world in which there is a prevailing tendency towards uniformity and standardisation, is a challenge that we should take up together. We have already begun to do so in our sectoral and national organisations and this is a task that we must pursue on a daily basis within COOPERATIVES EUROPE at the service of all European co-operators. This action feeds upon our shared values and personal commitment. We must believe in what we are doing and realise that our strength lies within us.
Etienne Pflimlin Co-President
SUMMARY ACTIVITY REVIEW
In February 2005, the European Council of ICA Europe met in Bratislava and the main decision taken was to officially launch the integration process between the Coordination Committee of the Co-operative Associations of the EU (CCACE) and the European region of the ICA (ICA Europe). The allocated budget for this integration process was a 25% redistribution of the ICA Europe membership fees and some contributions from the CCACE, totalling €265.000. In 2005 there were 15 withdrawals from ICA membership in Europe, 3 expulsions and 3 new members, counting for a net loss of more than 17% of members. Also in 2005, at the European Convention in June the new identity of ICA Europe as COOPERATIVES EUROPE was launched with a new logo and the first performance report on the European Co-operative movement gave key figures for the region of 263.000 cooperative enterprises, 5,4 million jobs, 163 million members -the biggest membership organisation in the EU. To strengthen its visibility two more objectives were agreed: 1. to create a European Co-operative House in Brussels, and 2. to create a European Co-operative Research Centre and Think Tank for knowledge building and political support of the COOPERATIVES EUROPE lobby work towards the European Union Institutions. It was also decided to develop more added-value services to the members.
At this time COOPERATIVES EUROPE took a strong leadership in the ICA to speed up its restructuring and regionalisation process and presented its first resolution to the ICA General Assembly in Carthagena (September 2005) on the need for a more decentralised ICA built around the capacity and competence of the regions and the sectors, increasing the membership fee redisribution to the regions, and last but not least the need for a separate legal structure for the European region of the ICA.’
MANCHESTER 2006 - BRUSSELS 2010
Following the enlargement of the European Union the vision of the EU was through its Lisbon Strategy to become the most efficient and competitive economy by 2010. Growth, the knowledge economy and globalisation were the buzz words along with management development strategies of ‘blue sky thinking’ and ‘thinking outside of the box’ and all within a Social Europe. Few predicted or were concerned that a storm and near meltdown of the financial system was on the horizon. In the co-operative world things were no different; efforts were being made to play a full part in an ever stronger economy and global market place. The emerging economies of the new EU states from central and eastern Europe were attempting to shrug off their ‘central command’ structures and in some cases to distance themselves from the often considered ‘tainted’ cooperative models of enterprise. We had challenges to rise to and weaknesses to overcome. New horizons were calling for new structures and a broadening of vision. It was time to weld together traditional structures with interventionist and pro-active working methods to be visible and to influence. ICA Europe had the membership structure but little else; its administrative base was outside of the EU and it had no influence, visibility or mission in the EU’s corridors of power. The CCACE on the other hand had individual expertise, knowledge of and interaction with the EU institutions but its capacity to represent the Europe wide co-operative movement was constrained. After several years of discussion and pooling of efforts based on a ‘common platform’ approach, COOPERATIVES EUROPE was founded in 1996 at the Manchester Regional Assembly as a corporate body with a legal identity in the European Union and with its base in the heart of the EU in Brussels, Belgium and forming the European region of the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA). The regionalisation process that the global ICA had also embarked upon was beginning to open up the sharing of management responsibilities and a better distribution of resources. COOPERATIVES EUROPE was poised to play a leading role in the global developments whilst it was consolidating its regional presence and management capacities.
The new Board of Directors elected in 2006 with its leadership of the co-Presidents, Pauline Green(UK) and Etienne Pflimlin (FR) and the Director of COOPERATIVES EUROPE, Rainer Schluter, forged a vision and mission to take the organisation forward in front of the wide world and within the global organisation. The 2005 performance report presented in Manchester showed a co-operative family of 263.000 cooperative enterprises, 5,4 million jobs, 163 million members. Under any sort of analysis there was the potential for mobilising that force for change and economic growth. These figures gave credence to the then adopted vision statement of being:
“Europe’s biggest membership organisation promoting the co-operative model of enterprise for sustainable progress with social benefits.”
Realising that vision has been dependant on utilising the principles of self help, self responsibility, democracy, equity and solidarity. In the tradition of our founders, co-operative members believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility and caring for others – values that were most needed during the financial and economic crisis that unfolded during 2008-10.
“Cooperative businesses that have stayed faithful to cooperative values and principles and the cooperative banks which rely on members’ funds and are controlled by local people have generally been able to resist the crisis very well.” European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, January 09
OUR AIMS ...
As the biggest membership organisation in Europe with members from the 6 European business sectors and from 37 countries of the European region, COOPERATIVES EUROPE has worked to: • Unite, represent, promote and defend co-operatives in Europe • Support & grow the co-operative model of enterprise and co-operative •
organisation across Europe Provide consultation, research, development, member services and to share experience and best practise.
Members and the secretariat have attempted to find the necessary solutions and to initiate meaningful actions to realize the vision and mission statements by translating the aims into strategic objectives to achieve:
more influence, more members, more enterprises and good governance.
MORE INFLUENCE... CAMPAIGNING FOR THE CO-OPERATIVE DIFFERENCE
“Some co-operative enterprises are suffering from the turmoil in the global financial services
sector and the consequent dive into economic recession that is being experienced worldwide but many are experiencing the publics’ recognition of the trust, solidarity and transparency that our model of enterprise is built upon. We must now all drive this advantage and value forward and develop our capacities to provide benefit for our members and communities whilst promoting our principles to a wider audience. COOPERATIVES EUROPE is well placed to do this” Pauline
Green/Etienne Pflimlin- co-Presidents COOPERATIVES EUROPE, January 09. ‘Hands off our Coops! ... they compete fairly.’ In the wake of a several complaints about certain tax provisions made in some countries, over 100,000 co-operators signed a petition to send a clear message to the European Commission that they must take into account the co-operative principles and operating models that cooperative enterprises adhere to.
PROMOTING AND STRENGTHENING CO-OPERATIVE
REPRESENTATION AND INSTITUTIONAL RECOGNITION
The European Union Co-ordinating Committee (EUCC) The EUCC, on the basis of the principles of subsidiarity and complementarity, is responsible for all aspects concerning the preparation, analysis, decision-making and communication related to the consultation process vis-à-vis the European Union’s institutions, particularly the legislative programme and funding regimes. Committee Membership: • European sector organisations, • national inter-sectoral co-operative organisations coming from European Union and EFTA member countries, • national inter-sectoral co-operative organisations coming from candidates countries under accession negotiations with the EU. The EUCC is chaired by the co-President, Etienne Pflimlin (FR) Mutuality, democracy, the co-operative dividend, co-operative shares and indivisible reserves are some of the issues that have been addressed in attempting to adapt the European legislation, competition rules and the International Accounting Standards regimes. Contact groups have been formed with Members of the European Parliament and in the European Economic and Social Committee to give us an audience of ‘friends of the co-operative business model’ that will assist us in getting our message into the legislative process and equally, acting as an alert system to keep COOPERATIVES EUROPE and its members aware of the current political debates and strategies that are forming the basis of growth and development in the EU.
The EU funded Social Partner Projects- SPP provided the numbers and the case studies that showed the representativeness and quality of the involvement of co-operatives in the national and European Social Dialogues and the meeting of the satisfying of the criteria to be a ‘Social Partner’. That said, there is currently no consensus in the national and European member organizations to give a mandate to COOPERATIVES EUROPE as the cross sector co-operative organization in the context of the European Social Dialogue. This is particularly so in the field of negotiation, but also initially even as a European Social Partner in the consultation process. Therefore the idea to create an optional cross-sector Co-operative Employer Association to start a reinforced cooperation between co-operatives and trade unions was considered at the European conference in Sofia. The 2004 Communication of the Commission on the promotion of Co-operative societies in Europe [com (2004) 18 final] established a major action plan for the development of co-operative enterprises across the European Union. The Commission’s assessment of the progress made in relation to the stated objectives gives much concern to COOPERATIVES EUROPE. In consequence a working group is drafting a proposal for a new Communication on Cooperatives for discussion with the Commission. As a member of a consortium with EURICSE and foundation EZAI, a study on the implementation of the Regulation on the statute for European Co-operatives Society (SCE) for the European Commission will be undertaken. COOPERATIVES EUROPE is charged with the preparation and adoption of the working programme; the follow up of the work undertaken by national experts and to contribute to the writing of the final recommendations. The underlying theme of all our institutional contacts is the need for the recognition of the plurality of entrepreneurial forms. Special treatment or exemptions are not called for but rather policy guidelines that take into account the co-operative principles and operating models that cooperative enterprises adhere to.
ENHANCING CO-OPERATIVE IDENTITY, VISIBILITY &
Following the formation of COOPERATIVES EUROPE as the European region of the ICA, a new identity and brand was progressively developed for use on-line and in publications. Communication with a diverse membership in terms of location, size, traditions, culture and business interests is a major challenge that is only partially addressed by embracing new technologies and trends (twitter/facebook/youtube etc.) but ultimately it depends on having a clear message that adds value to our members’ own daily experiences. The financing, purchase, refurbishment and occupation of the European Cooperative House in Brussels, Belgium provided an efficient base for COOPERATIVES EUROPE in the heart of the European Union. The establishment of EURICSE - a centre for cooperative research, study and innovative thinking in Trento, Italy with COOPERATIVES EUROPE as a founding member will be a great asset for future planning and development. The initiation of projects to explore new approaches and best practices is a key tool to work with our members and to promote the co-operative identity to a wider world. The introduction of ‘growth and development’ funding streams have enabled individual member organisations to contribute resources to COOPERATIVES EUROPE for support for particular issues of concern to them that can be addressed at the European wide level.
The EU funded Coop Erasmus project; the member funded ACT! – Cooperatives addressing the climate threat campaign; the renewable energy mapping exercise and the business to business pharmacy network are each in their different ways developing new areas of interest and support. After completing a ‘Development Compendium’ with more than 300 cooperative development projects and the creation of a Development Policy Group, COOPERATIVES EUROPE has strengthened its relationship with the EU in the field of the EU Development Policy and is now recognized as an European organisation invited to all consultative meetings for civil society, NGOs and no- state organisations on EU Development Policy. Our first development project will commence in the spring of 2010 with a project entitled “Support to comprehensive Rural
Development in Montenegro, through rehabilitation of the co-operative system”.
The main objectives of the project are the elaboration and definition of a general law on cooperative enterprises, capacity building by training of key civil servants on strategic and operative management of co-operative entrepreneurship and the dissemination and sensitization of the legislative instruments and about the possibility of creating co-operative business in the organic producers and the social service sector. The lobby initiatives, the opinions on EU legislation proposals, the project based innovations and the enquiry and analysis functions of the various mapping exercises form some of the building blocks for COOPERATIVES EUROPE becoming the Cooperative Business Representative Organisation in Europe. COOPERATIVES EUROPE working in synergy with the sector organisations will project a strong co-operative enterprise system.
MORE ENTERPRISES... MORE MEMBERS CONSOLIDATE AND INCREASE MEMBERSHIP IN THE EUROPEAN REGION
In 2010 COOPERATIVES EUROPE with its members, represents a force for economic growth and social change of 123 million member co-operators owning 160,000 co-operative enterprises and giving jobs to 5.4 million European citizens. 1 The data comes from the current 81 COOPERATIVES EUROPE members, both full and associate members and takes into consideration the members of the six European sectoral organisations, giving a total of 163 member organizations. In 2006 there were high hopes for increasing our membership base to reflect an expected growth in co-operative enterprises but the sharp reversal of economic fortunes post 2007/8 inevitably slowed the growth perspectives. National organisations are consolidating their co-operative structures to better respond to the apparent renaissance in cooperation as a remedy for financial ills and economic crisis. The data about employment, which is the main economic indicator available, gives an indication of the great resilience that co-operative businesses have portrayed during the economic and financial crisis and also their ability to maintain and create jobs.
COOPERATIVES EUROPE Performance Report – April 2010
Whilst almost all of the objectives formulated at the dawn of the creation of COOPERATIVES EUROPE have been achieved, the consolidation of the organisation as the European Co-operative cross sector representative is not yet fully completed. We continue to work towards an effective distribution of roles in the relationships with the European Union institutions i.e. COOPERATIVES EUROPE being the cross-sector representative organisation of co-operatives that is promoting and defending the co-operative identity and its particular business model, and the European sector organisations being responsible for their professional areas and issues. We must be aware that the new trust of European citizens in co-operative values may not last and that it is essential to create a better understanding about co-operatives and their ethical business nature. There is a risk of losing a greater opportunity to attract further public and institutional support for this may not be achievable in the not too distant future if ‘business as usual’ becomes the norm again.
ACTIVITY FOCUS NOVEMBER 2006 – APRIL 2010
FROM MANCHESTER UK (NOVEMBER 2006) 2 TO BRUSSELS BE (APRIL 2008)
This first year of activity has provided a basis for the co-operative movement in Europe to meet the challenges of being a key part of the European economy. To achieve this, new working methods were established and modern tools of communication were employed to promote and make visible the opinions, positions and initiatives of co-operative enterprises as they relate to the European Union's Lisbon Objectives. Being part of a global alliance of co-operatives brought with it its own demands and added to the range of activity undertaken to achieve the prime aim of COOPERATIVES EUROPE: to unite, represent, promote and defend co-operatives in Europe. For COOPERATIVES EUROPE, 2007 was a year of building strong foundations, consolidating our global influence in our international organisation and utilising the strengths and interests of our membership. As such, it has been at time frustrating, surprising or exhilarating to have the leading roles in our organisation. Pauline Green and Etienne Pflimlin - co-Presidents.
COOPERATIVES EUROPE Annual Report and Activity Focus – April 2008
STRATEGIC OBJECTIVES & OUTCOMES
Since our last Annual General Assembly we have spent a major effort to consolidate our membership. This has been achieved through personal letters about essential issues from our coPresidents to all members and through increasing and sharing our knowledge base about our membership (performance reports, mappings, social dialogue surveys). We greatly increased our influence and lobbying capacity through the EUCC and related Working Groups to impact on European legislation and to promote our different business models. This was done in an institutional environment which is at the very least indifferent and even sometimes hostile towards our co-operative difference.
To support our lobby work in Brussels, it appears necessary to enhance relations with co-operative research to develop objective arguments and facts for our argumentation with the European Institutions. The imminent launch of the European Research Institute on Social and Co-operative Enterprises (EURISCE) in Trento (Italy), jointly promoted by COOPERATIVES EUROPE, the Trentino Co-operative Federation and the Trento University with public financial support by the Province of Trento for 6 years, will in the future support our policy work. We developed a new corporate image for COOPERATIVES EUROPE making it visible through our website and our newsletter which became public at the end of 2007. Our financial capacity was increased by managing successfully our first EU granted project and we started the first steps to develop a positive environment for co-operatives in Montenegro as our door to the Balkans. The first policy campaigning exercise by COOPERATIVES EUROPE on the complaints against cooperatives is having a strong impact at the EU institutional level, national levels and in some of the media. The co-Presidents met with Günter Verheugen, Enterprise Commissioner and Neelie Kroes, Commissioner for Competition to have an influence on the Commission decision, to build a specific legal European interpretation framework for co-operatives. The essential elements of such a framework would include the recognition of indivisible reserves, the co-operative dividend, nominal share value and the limited interest on co-operative member contributions. To build recognition of COOPERATIVES EUROPE as a European social partner in the European social dialogue, the COOPERATIVES EUROPE SPP program was completed with success at the debriefing seminar in November with the presence of the Commission. They supported the idea of a follow up project (2008-2009) for reinforced cooperation with the other main European Social Partners, the ETUC (trade Union) and CEEP (public companies) and to build the added value of the participation of co-operatives in the European social dialogue. After a restructuring of the team was completed at the end of the first semester 2007, the whole team had clear employment and service conditions and from the beginning of 2008 we had a strong, committed and highly performing secretariat. But, financial and human resources in the future will be insufficient to deliver the services needed by our members and to promote and defend our co-operative identity in the EU context. There is a future challenge to increase resources independent of the membership fee sharing between the structures of the ICA. COOPERATIVES EUROPE played an essential role in the restructuring process of the ICA and made a significant contribution to the development of the new ICA membership fee formula. Finally, during this year COOPERATIVES EUROPE could count on a strongly motivated and participative group of elected members who exercised their responsibilities at a management level in the Executive Committee, on strategic issues in the Board and at regular meetings between the co-presidents and the secretariat.
CONSOLIDATE AND INCREASE MEMBERSHIP
OBJECTIVES: STOP THE WITHDRAWAL OF EUROPEAN ORGANISATION FROM THE ICA, GET FIRST REGIONAL MEMBERS, CREATE AND CONSOLIDATE CROSS SECTOR ORGANISATION IN EUROPE WHERE THEY DO NOT EXIST OUTCOMES: 3 NEW CATEGORY A MEMBERS, 1 WITHDRAWAL; 2 REGIONAL ASSOCIATES, 3 NEW APEX ORGANISATIONS IN PROCESS, ONE IN MEMBERSHIP
After a steady decrease in membership in ICA Europe during previous years, our activity in 2007/2008 has stopped this trend and 2008 will be the first year with a net increase of common ICA-COOPERATIVES EUROPE members and the first 2 regional associate members join our European organisation. To fulfil our role as the voice of co-operatives in Europe at a cross sector level, it is important to have our national co-operative movements organised also at a cross sector level in their different European countries. A special effort was therefore dedicated to stimulate the development of apex or platform organisations bringing together most of the sectors and co-operative organisations of a country. Since Prague we have followed the Irish Co-operative Forum, the new Norwegian Apex organisation and KFO, the Swedish cross sector co-operative Employer organisation. KFO joined COOPERATIVES EUROPE as Associate member in February 2008. With the European Social Pharmacies, UEPS, an agreement was reached to realise a mapping exercise on co-operative Pharmacies in Europe. Contacts were started with IHCO to verify the opportunity for a European Health sector.
INCREASE GLOBAL/EUROPEAN INFLUENCE TO PROMOTE COOPERATIVES AS A VALUE BASED
OBJECTIVES: INFLUENCE EU COMMISSION DECISIONS ON THE COMPLAINTS AGAINST CO-OPERATIVES, IMPACT ON LEGISLATIVE PROGRAM OF THE COMMISSION TO TAKE CO-OPERATIVES IN ACCOUNT, STRENGTHEN INSTITUTIONAL CONTACTS, PRESENCE AND RECOGNITION. BUILD A STRONGER VISIBILITY AND IMAGE. OUTCOMES: RATIONALE ON THE CO-OPERATIVE DIFFERENCE AGREED BY ALL EUCC MEMBERS AND SENT TO COMMISSION, POLITICAL BRIEFING TO ALL MEMBERS TO SUPPORT OUR CAMPAIGN “COMMISSION DECISION MIGHT HURT 250.000 CO-OPERATIVES”; 4 EUCC MEETINGS, 15 OPINIONS PREPARED WITH THE SUPPORT OF 7 WG’S; HIGH LEVEL MEETINGS WITH COMMISSIONERS G. VERHEUGEN AND N. KROES, 2 DINNER MEETINGS WITH THE EESC CO-OPERATIVE CONTACT GROUP CREATED BY COOPERATIVES EUROPE, FIRST LIST OF MEPS SUPPORTING CO-OPERATIVES.
THE CO-OPERATIVE VOICE IN THE EU INSTITUTIONS
One of the priorities of the lobby actions of COOPERATIVES EUROPE during the previous twelve months has been centred on the legal actions undertaken against some national co-operative regimes. Acting at the trans-national and the cross-sectoral levels, COOPERATIVES EUROPE undertook several key actions: Coordination and guidance of the 'state aids' working group. Organisation of meetings with the Commission such as with the Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes in September 2007. Developing a 'co-operative rationale' which proposes some guidance for the European Commission to use when applying the EU competition rules to co-operative societies. The
guidance covers the specific co-operative principles and the particular regimes that stem from them. Using the rationale and a political briefing, a broad campaign was launched to get support from the member organisations to defend the 'co-operative difference'. Through these actions, COOPERATIVES EUROPE is building support for the co-operative model of business at the national and European levels that is based on the reactions of MEPs, MPs, national authorities and Commissioners. COOPERATIVES EUROPE’s action demonstrates that what looked like isolated cases are in reality a crucial problem for all co-operatives and thus backed the actions undertaken by the co-operatives organisation who were being attacked. The Commission is now beginning to realise that the initial proposed decisions may well be problematic and will have an impact on all co-operatives as it is a more complex issue than it previously appeared to be. In nine months COOPERATIVES EUROPE has adopted fifteen position papers on cross-sectoral issues; the bulk of which consisted of answering to consultations undertaken by the Commission. They concerned Company Law (e.g. consultation on a European private company where we require the respect of the co-operative operating rules), competition law (e.g. a position on the draft regulation on Block Exemptions), entrepreneurial policy (e.g. Small Business Act for SMEs that must take in account a differentiated approach with regard to the legal form of the SME) and accountancy standards (e.g. IFRS for SMEs that should consist of an adjustment of all IFRs adapted to co-operatives and not a general simplification). All the draft positions were adopted by our European Union Coordination Committee (EUCC), the committee of COOPERATIVES EUROPE responsible for all aspects concerning the preparation, analysis, decision-making and communication related to the consultation process vis-à-vis the European Union’s institutions. Twenty five representatives from national apex and European sectoral federations actively participate in its work under the presidency of co-President Etienne Pflimlin. Positions papers were prepared within working groups such as the Legal Working Group which met 3 times, and the Accountancy Working Group (coordinated with the EACB) meeting once. Due to the short time given to the various consultations, the working groups worked 'virtually' with electronic mail. COOPERATIVES EUROPE strengthened also its representation within the European institutions. Whilst continuing to follow the work of the social economy category within the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), a co-operative contact group was also established. The objectives are to coordinate the co-operative approach within EESC and to disseminate the co-operatives actions amongst the EESC members. The first results of this co-ordination is the project to present an 'own initiative' opinion on the 'plurality of form' of enterprises. Contact with MEPs was consolidated and expanded. Through the involvement of COOPERATIVES EUROPE, the intergroup for Social Economy within the European Parliament is now more open to entrepreneurial issues and is supporting us on the legal actions issue. With reference to the Commission, COOPERATIVES EUROPE is a member of different 'experts groups' such as that co-ordinated by the SMEs envoy and the group on Company Law. Some of these working groups are one off events like the expert group on Accountancy for SMEs which adopted its final report in March 2008. COOPERATIVES EUROPE meets regularly with Directors and Heads of Unit with the aim of consolidating the recognition of the co-operative business model within all the Directorates of DG Entreprises and DG Internal Market. COOPERATIVES EUROPE has also actively contributed to the consolidation of Social Economy Europe whilst promoting the interest of co-operatives within this platform. COOPERATIVES EUROPE is also member of the steering committee of the next European conference on Social Economy scheduled to take place in November 2008 during the French Presidency of the EU. Obtaining recognition in the European Institutions is a long term process. COOPERATIVES EUROPE is now starting to reap the fruits of its lobbying actions. Through participation in consultations, the
dissemination of information about our activities and the participation in different expert groups or meetings, the 'co-operative voice' is starting to be heard and to be considered as a major actor in some policy areas. Some proposals of COOPERATIVES EUROPE were taken into account, for example: within the last draft on Block Exemptions. If COOPERATIVES EUROPE had not been active on the European Public Company (EPC) issue the Commission wouldn’t have even thought about the co-operative model within the consultation phase. We are now consulted at the beginning of different initiatives on cross-sectoral issues undertaken by the European institutions, such as the 'Performance Report on SMEs.' This recognition of expertise would not exist without the participation and the involvement of COOPERATIVES EUROPE member organisations in this work.
A key objective for 2007 was to improve the visibility and image of COOPERATIVES EUROPE. As well as the traditional methods of communication through letters from the co-Presidents to members, regular email contact and the distribution of information, modern communication tools were employed - interactive website, RSS newsfeeds etc. A new Internet web site www.coopseurope.coop was launched to make available updated information about the activities of COOPERATIVES EUROPE and its member organisations. To enable regular visitors to keep up to date with new additions to the site a syndicated newsfeed (RSS) is available at http://feeds.feedburner.com/co-operativesineurope. Web links direct readers to the global websites of the ICA and its regions. The hits on the site have increased through the year and are still growing whilst the ranking on search engines is improving for topical issues. The popularity of the site is greatly enhanced by the links to COOPERATIVES EUROPE that appear on many of the members own websites. The 'members’ area' of the site was less successful as it had 'security of access' problems and it was not easy to use. Ten digital newsletters for members and latterly for a wider general public audience were published to summarise headline news and activities. An ever growing subscription list is seeding a broad audience within member organisations, other NGOs and within the European Union institutions. Subscription can be made through the website pages. Two mapping exercise were initiated to identify the scope of communication methods employed by our members and the extent of members' involvement in Coop Development issues (see the catalogue of Development Projects published separately). The Social Partner Project also provided the opportunity to start the process of recording the size and representativeness of co-operative organisations in each country of the region. Much of this information is available for consultation on the COOPERATIVES EUROPE website and is being recorded to form the basis of a wide ranging database that will be dynamically updated by the member organisations in the future. The occasion of the 3rd Co-operative Convention hosted in Prague, Czech Republic in June 2007 provided the first opportunity for COOPERATIVES EUROPE to engage with its full membership in discussion and decision making on co-operative issues and interests. It also served as the venue to present the interim results of the SPP project before an audience of European Social Partners and the European Commission.
The Convention also saw the launch of COOPERATIVES EUROPE's support and promotion of the use of the .COOP web domain name with the presentation of the www.europe.coop website along with a promotional offer to purchase .coop domain names through the management of the selling site by Co-operatives UK. Further reselling agents are being actively sort to expand the use of the domain name as a tool of promotion and identity for individual coop enterprises across the region.
DEVELOP STRONG CO-OPERATIVE ENTERPRISES FOR SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC PROGRESS
OBJECTIVES: DEVELOP A BETTER KNOWLEDGE BASE ON OUR CO-OPERATIVES, START DEVELOPMENT ACTIVITY. BUILD INTER-COOPERATION. OUTCOMES: FIRST EU GRANTED PROJECT COMPLETED WITH SUCCESS ON THE ROLE OF CO-OPERATIVES IN THE EUROPEAN SOCIAL DIALOGUE. 27 COUNTRY DOSSIERS ON WEBSITE (SPP), MAPPING OF MORE THAN 300 DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS FROM OUR MEMBERS, PREPARATION OF FIRST DEVELOPMENT SEMINAR. FIRST MISSION TO MONTENEGRO ORGANISED TO START DEVELOPMENT ACTIVITY IN THE BALKANS. A NEW FAIRFOOD PROJECT WAS INTRODUCED TO EU COMMISSION 01 APRIL 2008. COOPERATIVES EUROPE IS PREPARING A CSR PROJECT WITH EUROCOOP.
CO-OPERATIVES AND THE EUROPEAN SOCIAL DIALOGUE
With the financial support of the European Commission, DG Employment & Social Affairs, COOPERATIVES EUROPE started in the framework of the Social Partner Program the process of evaluating its representativeness and the role of its member organisations in the social dialogue in the EU countries. The objective was to acquire a better knowledge and understanding of the present situation and to enhance collaboration with the European Social Partners. The project included a partnership of 11 national co-operative organisations and 3 European sector organisations. It was supported by Social Economy Europe (former CEP-CMAF) and the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), while the scientific methodology was assured by the international research network CIRIEC. The twelve months project (November 2006 – November 2007) was built around a series of national and sector enquiries, verifying the Commission’s requirements which must be fulfilled for a European employer or worker representative organisation to be recognised as a European Social Partner i.e. the representativeness of an organisation, the involvement of its members in the national social dialogue and the capacity of the organisation and its members to consult and have a mandate to negotiate.
First results of the study were presented at the 3rd European Co-operative Convention “COOPERATIVES EUROPE: a future European social partner?” in Prague, 18/19 June 2007. Commissioner Vladimir Špidla, responsible for employment policy and social affairs and therefore co-ordinating the European Social Dialogue, reaffirmed during that meeting “the importance of taking better account of co-operatives in the European Social Dialogue” and added that he “... was convinced about the co-operative specificity and would fight to maintain that ideal” and he would “... need their opinions for the continuing harmonisation of the Single Market procedures
and was ready to enter into dialogue with them.”
This Convention – attended by more than 250 participants – received the support of the President of the Czech Parliament - Miloslav Vlcek, the Czech Government Minister for Agriculture - Petr Gandalovic, and the Minister of Employment and Social Affairs, Petr Necas. They underlined in their speeches the positive role that co-operative values and principles add to the Czech national social dialogue. Finally, a lively and informative discussion with experts and participants in Europe’s social dialogue (Maria Helena André, ETUC – Marie-Hélène Gillig, CEP-CMAF – Pauline Green, COOPERATIVES EUROPE - Valeria Ronzitti, CEEP - Marie Zvolska, EESC - Jackie Morin, European Commission – Jan Olsson, EESC – Bernard Thiry, CIRIEC – Franco Tumino, Legacoop/COOPERATIVES EUROPE) explored the ‘added value’ of COOPERATIVES EUROPE becoming a social partner. As Etienne Pflimlin (CoPresident of COOPERATIVES EUROPE) concluded, there was much ‘food for thought’. The final report presented at the project debriefing seminar (21 November 2007) came up with important results. In the 27 EU member states, COOPERATIVES EUROPE represents 147,000 enterprises, 107 million members and 4.35 million jobs, corresponding to more than three quarters of the total European co-operative reality. The study demonstrated also that in most EU member states, representatives of the co-operative organisations have a mandate for negotiation and that the member organisations of COOPERATIVES EUROPE have a medium to high involvement in the social dialogue in most countries of the European Union, meaning that they essentially take part in the core activities of the dialogue - the negotiations. Further, 3 out of 7 European co-operative sector organisations participate in their respective European sectoral social dialogue. Besides the experts and participants in the European social dialogue who took part in the animated debates in Prague, the final debriefing seminar benefited also from the experience of Hans-Werner Müller - General Secretary of the EUAPME, and Rainer Plassman, General Secretary of the CEEP. The meeting discussed mainly the future opportunities for an enhanced collaboration and cooperation with COOPERATIVES EUROPE and its member organisations within the social dialogue. Besides a very positive overall reaction by the project participants, the European Commission expressed that it was impressed by the interest of co-operative organisations in the subject of the social dialogue and indicated their expectations of the co-operative movement continuing the work started. Further information concerning the Social Partner Program and the final study report can be found on the website: www.coopseurope.coop and in the publication: 'Co-operatives in the European Social Dialogue' COOPERATIVES EUROPE April 2008.
Building on the seminar of the Co-operative College in Manchester (UK, 2006), COOPERATIVES EUROPE started a mapping exercise on development projects from member organisations and their agencies. To date, more than 300 project sheets are collected and it is expected that there will be further projects identified. The first result of this mapping will be presented to the EU and international donor organisations at the development seminar in Brussels 29 April 2008. Together with COSV, an Italian Development NGO active in Montenegro for the last ten years and with the support of an Italian/Swiss Foundation, a first mission was undertaken in February 2008 to Podgoriza. The aim of the mission was to analyse the feasibility of modernising the cooperative system in Montenegro and the possibility of creating a positive legal framework for cooperatives and to develop new sectors and co-operatives. A project with the EU may be possible in the frame of a European program in 2009.
STRENGTHEN ICA-COOPERATIVES EUROPE SUSTAINABILITY THROUGH FINANCIAL CAPACITY,
GOOD GOVERNANCE AND A COMMITTED PEOPLE BASE
OBJECTIVES: INCREASE REDISTRIBUTION BETWEEN REGIONS AND CENTRE, DEVELOP NEW INCOME STREAMS, AGREE ON EUROPEAN RESERVES. TEST PROJECT FINANCING. DEVELOP A PARTICIPATIVE CULTURE FOR ALL MEMBERS, AND PARTICULARLY FOR ELECTED MEMBERS. BUILD A STRONG TEAM. BE A PART AND PARTICIPATE ACTIVELY IN THE ICA RESTRUCTURING. OUTCOMES: REDISTRIBUTION AGREEMENT FROM 35% (2007) TO 40% (2008). FIRST EU GRANT OF €208.000 AND € 108.000 TRANSFERRED FROM ICA TO COOPERATIVES EUROPE AS RESTRICTED RESERVES. €1.070.000 COLLECTED FOR THE EUROPEAN COOPERATIVE HOUSE, INDICATING CAPACITY OF AD HOC PROJECT FINANCING FROM MEMBERS. 4 EXECUTIVE MEETINGS, 3 BOARD MEETINGS, BI-MONTHLY CO-PRESIDENTS MEETINGS WITH TEAM. FROM 01 JANUARY 2008 A STABLE TEAM OF 6 PERSONS OF 4.4 EFT. NEW ICA MEMBERSHIP FORMULA AND ICA RULE CHANGES CONTRIBUTING AT 4 SIGNIFICANT ICA BOARD AND 1 ICA GENERAL ASSEMBLY.
When the process to create a strong European co-operative organisation started in 2003, redistribution between HO in Geneva and the Regions was respectively 82 % HO and 18% regions. In 2007 agreed redistribution was 65/35% to reach 60/40% in 2008, but at the same time, currency losses in 2007 count for €19.000 (6% of received redistribution) due to the fact that ICA is using as global currency, the CHF. Even if there is still some bargaining margin, linked to the new membership formula, there is a necessity to look for new income streams if we want to build a sustainable COOPERATIVES EUROPE region. Following the agreement signed in January 2007, ICA transferred €108.000 as restricted reserves to COOPERATIVES EUROPE which were reduced by the loss of €17.000 in 2006 after agreement by the ICA Board. From November 2006 to November 2007, COOPERATIVES EUROPE managed its first EU project with a grant from the EU Commission of €208.000. In 2007, this income counted for around 30% of our total income.
To increase our visibility in Brussels, COOPERATIVES EUROPE launched the idea of creating a European Co-operative House where co-operators could meet and where COOPERATIVES EUROPE and other European sector organisations could work together and share office space. This project was an immense and unexpected success. Fourteen member organisations supported financially this project with a collected amount of €1.070.000. A special co-operative society was created (MEC) on the 16 January 2008 to buy at the end of January our future European Cooperative House in the European institutions area. Renovation works started in March and the office move is scheduled for July 2008.
FROM BRUSSELS BE (APRIL 2008) TO SOFIA BG (JUNE 2009)3
“This year proved to be the one in which COOPERATIVES EUROPE began to demonstrate the potential that we all believed it had when we set it up in November 2005 in Manchester. In 2006 and 2007, we undertook much solid work to build up our knowledge of the cooperative family of businesses across the European continent. That work has served us well, providing an informed and quality backdrop to our representative work with the institutions of the European Union. At the same time it has provided the raw information from which we have started to build added value services for our members.” Pauline
“At the moment when looking at accomplished results of the annual work program and future actions, it appears more and more evident that the mission to defend and promote our co-operative values in front of the European Institutions is becoming a major priority for COOPERATIVES EUROPE and its EUCC. Global participation in civil society dialogue is as important as we need to convince that co-operatives are contributing actively to the European objectives of development and solidarity in an economy hit by the economic downturn.” Etienne Pflimlin, coPresident
COOPERATIVES EUROPE Annual Report and Activity Focus – June 2009
A YEAR OF ACHIEVEMENTS
In May 2008, COOPERATIVES EUROPE, together with the University of Trento and the Cooperative Federation of Trentino, founded EURICSE, the European Research Centre for Cooperative and Social Enterprises, based in Trento and supported financially for 6 years by the Province of Trentino with a budget of €6 million for the period. The objective of EURICSE is building an integrated research network in Europe on cooperatives. A first common seminar was organised on the legal cases and fiscal issues with the European Union that showed the importance of linking research and policy making together. In June 2008 in Rome, at the Extraordinary General Assembly of the ICA adopted the new ICA structure, statutes and membership fee system incorporating all the European suggestions but also building on the European proposal for a new and fairer membership formula. Alerted in 2007 by its Italian members on the complaints against Italian cooperatives (later enlarged to the Spanish, French and Norwegian cases) in the consumer and banking sector of the EU and in the frame of European Competition Policy questioning the fundamental elements of the co-operative model of enterprise, COOPERATIVES EUROPE launched its first public internet and written petition ‘Hands off our co-ops, they compete fairly’ collecting strong political support by many national and European officials and elected representatives but also gathering around 100.000 signatures from members of cooperative enterprises. This political campaign made COOPERATIVES EUROPE known throughout Europe and positioned it as the cross sector voice of the European co-operative movement. It stopped the process within the Commission that was trying to qualify the special fiscal treatments of co-operatives - on indivisible reserve, co-operative dividend and limited interest on member shares as state aid.
With a capital base of €1.3 million collected by 14 cooperative investors from our member organisations, the first COOPERATIVE HOUSE EUROPE in the European area of Brussels was purchased at the beginning of 2008 and renovation started in April 2008. After 6 months of work, COOPERATIVES EUROPE together with CECOP, moved into the new COOPERATIVE HOUSE EUROPE in November 2008. The COOPERATIVE HOUSE is becoming the meeting place for COOPERATIVES EUROPE member organisations when they are visiting the EU institutions or are organising meetings in Brussels. Several member organisations are holding their meetings in the house helping to reinforce the common identity of the movement. In 2009 a Scandinavian co-operative representation, EURICSE Brussels office and COOPERATIVES EUROPE HOUSING will join the House.
Launched since the last General Assembly, COOPERATIVES EUROPE has initiated new added value areas for its members. • After completing the ‘Development Compendium’ with more than 300 cooperative development project and the creation of the COOPERATIVES EUROPE Development Policy Group, COOPERATIVES EUROPE has strengthened its relationship with the EU in the field of the EU Development Policy and is now recognized as a European organisation invited to all consultative meetings on EU Development Policy for civil society, NGOs and non state organisations. COOPERATIVES EUROPE will sign its first development project in the Balkans: “Building a modern cooperative system in Montenegro in June 2009.” • In Rome, at the end of March, C OOPERATIVES E UROPE with the support of CONFCOOPERATIVE organised a first European business meeting with pharmacies co-operatives,
a sector where co-operatives have a significant market share with a turnover of more than €18 billion. After a first mapping exercise, C OOPERATIVES E UROPE in partnership with E COPOWER , a Belgian co-operative and I NNOVA , a German co-operative development agency organized a European seminar on ‘Energy Co-operatives’ at the European Parliament with the support of the European Greens. The seminar brought together more than 60 organisations from 9 EU countries active in this field. At the seminar COOPERATIVES EUROPE launched its UK. ‘climate threat campaign and project’ supported financially by the CO-OPERATIVE GROUP To support these new growth areas, which are not or not yet within its core business, COOPERATIVES EUROPE has launched this year a call for financial support from its members. Todate, more than €100.000 have been added to the 2009 budget to support these new development areas for co-operatives. Reducing dependency on membership fees, the growth and service financing mechanism together with the 3 EU projects of over €300.000 has built a more sustainable organisation with less than 50% of resources from the membership. After a loss of around 20% of its membership base in 2005 and 2006, COOPERATIVES EUROPE has once more a net increase in members in the European region.
Whilst almost all of the objectives formulated at the dawn of the creation of COOPERATIVES EUROPE have been achieved, the consolidation of COOPERATIVES EUROPE as the European Co-operative cross sector representative organisation is not yet fully completed. Tensions still continue to exist with some of the European sectors and COOPERATIVES EUROPE as we work towards a new distribution of roles in the relationship with the European Union institutions i.e. COOPERATIVES EUROPE as the voice of the co-operative business model in Europe and the cross-sector representative organisation of co-operatives - promoting and defending the co-operative identity and its particular business model, and the European sectors responsible for their professional areas and subjects. This appears all the more prevalent in the context of the recent global crisis. Whilst the sectors are being extremely timid in affirming their co-operative business difference, COOPERATIVES EUROPE is convinced that the new trust of European citizens in cooperative values will not last and that it is essential to create a better understanding about cooperatives and their ethical business nature. There is a risk of loosing a greater opportunity to attract public and institutional support that might not be achievable in the near future.
Throughout the year the objective was to pursue the building of support for the cooperative model of business at the national and European levels and to promote the cooperative form of enterprise and to protect and defend it as and when necessary. A broad campaign was launched to get support from the member organisations to defend the 'co-operative difference’, this included a paper and on-line petition – ‘Hands off our Coops – they compete fairly’ that resulted in over 100,000 signatures. This action, reinforced by the actions of the national organisations involved in the different cases, were sufficient to push the European Commission to reconsider its approach. It published a communiqué where the ‘co-operatives difference’ was recognised and asked for a dialogue with the co-operatives organisations. As a follow up, COOPERATIVES EUROPE adopted a position paper on the approach of the Commission on the legal action against the preferential tax regime for cooperatives in the retail banking and retail distribution sectors. We adopted several position papers on cross-sectoral issues, mainly on regional development, Company Law and enterprise policy. Concerning the Commission proposal on the Small Business Act, we adopted a position paper and a communiqué that called for the SBA to take into account a differentiated approach regarding the legal form of the SME. This position was promoted inside the European Parliament and the rapporteurs final report mentioned the cooperative form of doing business. The draft regulation for a SPE regulation (European Private Company statutes) remains a major concern for COOPERATIVES EUROPE due to the fact that it may have a negative impact on the development of the European co-operatives statutes. We had several meetings with the European Commission and followed up the draft reports within European Parliament and secured the withdrawal of some amendments that were unsatisfactory for co-operatives societies. COOPERATIVES EUROPE was also very active in the accounting standards issue and adopted several positions presented to the IASB or FASB on the distinction between liabilities and equities and the characteristic of co-operatives shares. All the draft positions were adopted by the European Union Coordination Committee (EUCC), the committee of COOPERATIVES EUROPE responsible for all aspects concerning the preparation, analysis, decision-making and communication related to the consultation process vis-à-vis the European Union’s institutions. 25 representatives from national apex and European sectoral federation actively participate to its work under the presidency of E. Pflimlin. Positions papers were prepared within working groups such as the Legal Working Group and the Accountancy (coordinated with the EACB) Working Group. We have started to follow the reporting of the Communication on the Promotion of Cooperatives in Europe and participated in the first informal working group on the issue. A specific working group was set up to prepare the Memorandum from COOPERATIVES EUROPE for the European Parliament elections. The document, “Building the Europe of tomorrow with cooperatives” presents our vision of Europe and outlines the major concerns for the continuing development of co-operatives enterprises at the European level. Co-operative positions or requests for opinions were also promoted throughout the European institutions. While still following the work of the social economy category, the co-operative contact group within the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) is a channel for cooperative issues. This contact group initiated an own initiative opinion. Report on the plurality of the form of enterprises. COOPERATIVES EUROPE is the expert for the co-rapporteur representing the co-operatives movement. Contact with MEPs was consolidated and expanded through the involvement of COOPERATIVES EUROPE in the intergroup for Social Economy within the European Parliament but also through direct contacts with MEPs. We collaborated in the drafting of the Report on the social economy, ensuring the entrepreneurial approach of the text. Concerning the European Commission, COOPERATIVES EUROPE is a member of different 'experts groups' such as that co-ordinated by the SMEs Envoy and the group on Company Law. We meet regularly with Directors and Heads of Unit with the aim of
consolidating the recognition of the co-operative business model within all the Directorates of DG Enterprise, Employment and DG Internal Market. This year we followed attentively the proposals for the restructuring of Social Economy Europe (SEE) and its ongoing activities through the attendance at many meetings and working groups. As a member of the steering committee, COOPERATIVES EUROPE organised a workshop on ‘competition and social economy enterprises’ in the framework of the European conference on social economy under the auspices of the French Presidency in November 2009 with the participation of Deputy Director DG Competition, Lowry Evans. We participated at different events and were invited to make a presentation. E.g. Action on European public policies” Workshop Mercosur – Brussels October 08; “Challenges for the Cooperative Sector in Europe”, Social economy conference in Murcia December 2008; “Towards a plural corporate Law” European conference on social economy Strasbourg November 08; “Transnational partnership and European co-operative societies” Seminar LEGACOOP October 08; “social enterprises and co-operatives: a reaction to the study on social enterprises practices”. European Commission March 09. These actions enabled us to establish networks and to disseminate about our activities.
Project proposal documents are in preparation following a call for tender on the implementation of the directive of the worker participation within the SCE and a proposal with EURICSE and EZAI Foundation following a call for tender on the implementation of the regulation on the SCE.
BUSINESS TO BUSINESS MODELS
COOPERATIVES EUROPE has been working to create an environment in which co-operative businesses working in the same field can come together, to meet and see whether there are some working synergies. In particular COOPERATIVES EUROPE has been working on two main sectors: Energy and Pharmacies. PHARMACIES With the financial support of CONFCOOPERATIVE, the European Seminar ‘Co-operatives in the Pharmacy Sector – Opportunities & Challenges’ was held in Rome on 30-31 March 2009. The meeting enabled co-operative businesses and federations coming from Italy, Belgium, Portugal, France, United Kingdom and Greece to meet and to plan a common working plan for the future. At the seminar COOPERATIVES EUROPE presented a first mapping exercise of co-operatives working in the pharmacy sector in Europe. Results show that co-operatives work in the pharmacy sector in at least 11 countries, they have an annual turnover of about 18 billion Euros, 20.000 employed people and business relationships with more than 65.000 pharmacies. The participants exchanged experiences and opinions and analyzed threats and opportunities. The meeting was attended also by delegates of countries where cooperatives still do not work in the pharmaceutical sector but where the legal framework is experiencing relevant changes opening up some opportunities them. ENERGY In collaboration with the Belgian energy co-operative ECOPOWER, the German co-operative development agency INNOVA and of the EU Parliamentary group of the Greens-EFA, COOPERATIVES EUROPE organized on 30th April a European Seminar called “Co-operatives in the Energy Sector”. Some 70 participants from 9 countries took part in the event. Representatives from the European Parliament, the EC’s Executive Agency for Competitiveness & Innovation, the European Economic & Social Committee and of the DG Energy and Transport accepted to participate in the conference to discuss the role of cooperatives in the EU energy strategy. In addition, best practice cases of some cooperative initiatives in the consumer, agriculture, housing, banking, energy production/distribution sector were presented. Not only did this event increase the visibility of the co-operative contribution to EU energy strategy, but it also permitted practitioners directly working on the ground to know each other, to exchange opinions and to consider the possibility of working together in future.
ERASMUS FOR YOUNG ENTREPRENEURS – COOPERASMUS
“Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs” is a new European exchange programme aimed at helping new entrepreneurs to acquire relevant skills for managing a small or medium-sized enterprise (SME) by spending time working in another EU country with an experienced entrepreneur in his or her company. COOPERASMUS is the consortium composed of COOPERATIVES EUROPE together with 7 other partner organisations from 6 European countries: INFORCOOP-LEGACOOP and ELABORACONFCOOPERATIVE from Italy, CEPES-ANDALUCIA and UNCCUE from Spain, CO-OPERATIVES UK from the UK, CENTRAL COOPERATIVE UNION from Bulgaria and COOMPANION from Sweden. The members of the consortium have been selected to act as intermediary organisations, and they will allow young European cooperators and entrepreneurs to participate in the programme. The members of the COOPERASMUS consortium are entitled to manage 39 relationships. The project will foster the creation of new co-operative enterprises and the consolidation of existing ones. Secondly, the exchanges represent a first step towards the creation of an international network of nascent co-operatives. Thirdly, the traditional private form of enterprise will be confronted with another way of doing business.
REPORTS FOR JAPAN
Following an agreement signed by COOPERATIVES EUROPE and the Japanese research center JA SOKEN, COOPERATIVES EUROPE provide the Japanese institute with 4 written reports on the cooperative movement in Europe. The topics covered by the articles are as follows: Facts & Figures: an Overview of the European Co-operative Movement today The EU Energy Strategy & Co-operatives in the Energy Sector The Social Service Sector: a new growth sector for co-operatives School Co-operatives – Bringing co-op values into the education system
The two first articles have already been delivered to the JA SOKEN, which has translated them into Japanese, and distributed them amongst its members.
After the development seminar “COOPERATIVES EUROPE: Social Innovation & Partnerships for Development” held on 29th April 2008, at which occasion the Development Projects Compendium was presented, COOPERATIVES EUROPE has received a mandate by its General Assembly to work on the development issue. The seminar (145 participants from 22 countries) and the Development Projects Compendium greatly contributed in increasing the visibility of the potential of the cooperative movement on the development issues. To effectively work on a co-operative strategy for development the COOPERATIVES EUROPE Development Policy Group met in Brussels on 26 September 2008. Representatives of the DG Enlargement, DG External Relations and DG Development as well as of the EuropeAid office took part in the meeting. The Development Policy Group gave a mandate to a smaller Advisory Committee to closely follow the meetings and to elaborate a strategy. The Advisory Committee, which is composed of 6 representatives, has met 3 times and has worked on the elaboration of an action plan based on the agreed strategy and priorities. After different contacts, the three EC Directorate Generals mainly dealing with development – DG External Relations, DG Enlargement and the EuropeAid office – have been inviting COOPERATIVES EUROPE to participate in several consultative committees and meetings on the EU development strategy, such as: Evaluation of the Commission’s aid delivery through Civil Society Organisations (Europe Aid) Meeting on the Mid-Term Review of the 2007-2013 Strategy Papers under the Development Co-operation Instruments (DG External Relations) Preparatory meeting and participation at the 2009 program of Regional Seminars on “Thematic Instruments and Programmes: reinforcing the Civil Society” (EuropeAid).
EU PROJECT ON SOCIAL DIALOGUE
The COOPSEUROPE/SPP-C project is part of the first sub-programme “Support for European Social Dialogue” of the EU programme “Industrial Relations and Social Dialogue”. It has been introduced in July 2008 and is running over a period of 15 months. The European Trade Union Confederation ETUC and the European Centre of Enterprises with Public Participation and of Enterprises of General Economic Interest CEEP are active partners within this project and is also supported by Social Economy Europe SEE. The direct partners involved are 14 national member organizations and 3 European sector organizations. The project COOPSEUROPE/SPP-C is a follow-up project of COOPERATIVES EUROPE Social partner program VP/2006/001 run in 2006-2007. It builds on its encouraging results in the field of representativeness and participation of co-operative organizations within the social dialogue across the EU 27. After a rather quantitative analysis of the situation, the SPP-C program aims to improve the qualitative knowledge about the situation of national and European Sector dialogue of the co-operative organisations (members of COOPERATIVES EUROPE), to evaluate and demonstrate added value of national and European participation of cooperatives in their respective Social Dialogues, and to strengthen co-operation with other European Social Partners. This is being reached through diverse activities as seminars, working groups, expertise and a reinforced cooperation with the other European Social Partners. The first steps being undertaken have been different regional seminars in Stockholm, Nicosia, Rome and Paris, bringing together representatives of the co-operative organisations and trade unions of the different EU countries; at these seminars, the participants were invited to present the situation of the social dialogue and industrial relations in their countries and describe possible future perspectives. A reflection seminar with the participation of Maria Helena André, Secretary General of the ETUC, and Commissioner Špidla, was organized, confirming that the shape of the world after the crisis will be different and that now there is the potential to introduce new actors and open up the dialogue to other partners such as co-operatives.
LE GRAND MAGASIN
COOPERATIVES EUROPE actively participates in the project entitled “LE GRAND MAGASIN”, in collaboration with the Cultural Department Neuköln Berlin, the Federal Cultural Foundation Germany and the EU Culture program. LE GRAND MAGASIN, which opened its doors on the 9th October 2008, is a shop displaying and selling only products manufactured by European cooperative enterprises. Whilst containing all the facilities of a usual shop, LE GRAND MAGASIN also acts as a forum for various activities, including lectures, round tables, conferences and exhibitions. A special feature of the project is the interaction between designers and the worker cooperatives. Around 20 designers and artists have been selected to generate and develop hand in hand with the co-operatives new products and marketing strategies. The results of these collaborations will be presented at 3 exhibitions and illustrated in a catalogue. The transformation of the shop into a new model of consumer co-operative - LE GRAND MAGASIN COOPERATIF - will expand the activities and grow it from a pilot project into a continuous initiative and model. An e-shop is being developed, which will be run in parallel to the shopping mall activity.
Thanks to a strong presence in the media, the project has also recently gained ground and experienced much attention from television, radio, newspapers, activists and reviewers. It is a successful attempt of reinforcing the collaboration between worker and consumer co-operatives, supporting the interactions between designers and co-operators, exposing co-operative products and presenting the co-operative model as a alternative form of enterprise.
CO-OPERATIVE DEVELOPMENT IN THE BALKANS - MONTENEGRO
Together with COSV, an Italian Development NGO active in Montenegro for the last ten years and with the support of an Italian/Swiss Foundation (FAI), COOPERATIVES EUROPE supported different activities for co-operative development in the country. The aim of this initiative is to analyze the feasibility of modernizing the co-operative system in Montenegro and the possibility of creating a positive legal framework for co-operatives and to develop new sectors. Different meetings with the ministries of Agriculture, of Work, Health and Social Affairs, of Economy, of Tourism and Environment and of Finance took place, as well as a close collaboration with the Delegation of the European Commission to Montenegro. A feasibility study considering the specificities of the countries and the socio-economic situation has been carried out with different national and European experts, analysing the legal context of the country in relation to co-operatives. Following a positive evaluation and reception of the report, the COSV, EURICSE, the Union of Montenegrin Co-operatives, several Ministries, CECOP and COOPERATIVES EUROPE introduced a project to foster the cooperative development in the country. The project is called “Support to comprehensive Rural Development in Montenegro, through rehabilitation of the co-operative system”. It was introduced at the end of April and is to be signed in the next few weeks. The main objectives of the project are the elaboration and definition of a general law on co-operative enterprises, capacity building by training of key civil servants on strategic and operative management of co-operative entrepreneurship and the dissemination and sensitization of the legislative instruments and about the possibility of creating co-operative business in the organic producers and the social service sectors.
YOUTH ACTIVITIES - EUROPEAN YOUTH SEMINAR, 20-21 JUNE 2008
“Young co-operative decision makers” was the title of the very first European cooperative youth conference organized by the CENTRAL COOPERATIVE UNION (CCU) of Bulgaria, with the participation of COOPERATIVES EUROPE. About 60 participants from 12 different European countries (Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Finland, France, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Portugal, United Kingdom and Ukraine) gathered in a lovely resort of the Bulgarian co-operative movement on the southern side of the country. The program included 2 main working sessions: the first one dealt with the involvement of young co-operators in the decision making process and in the second several European best practice cases were presented. During the many discussions, the young co-operators raised important questions, shared their own experiences and reflected on the initiatives undertaken within their national or European organisations to promote the integration of young people within the co-operative movement. The CCU President Mr. Petar Stefanov invited other European cooperative organisations to follow their initiative and to organise seminars aimed at a young audience.
ACT! - ADDRESSING THE CLIMATE THREAT
There is clear consensus amongst the world’s leading climate scientists that we are facing a very real threat of devastating and adverse consequences from changes to the world’s established climate patterns. The climate in all regions of the world will change, with dramatic, mostly adverse impacts for their populations with more volatile weather, more severe storms and floods, but with severe droughts in some regions – and all of this is mainly because of the way we live now. Our excessive use of the earth’s resources, especially of fossil fuels, is the main cause of the harmful effects of changes in our climate systems that will be experienced by future generations. Some co-operatives are already doing many things to address the climate threat, but usually on their own. ACT is being launched to encourage more co-operatives to be like the leaders and do more and to do it together within a framework. This way, the cooperative economy will have more impact and will also achieve recognition for its contribution. ACT will try to: 1. Provide a European framework to encourage co-operatives to do more: to reduce their own energy consumption and carbon emissions to inform, educate and motivate their members and workers to reduce their own emissions to lobby politicians to do the right things, especially in the lead up to the Copenhagen Climate Conference in December 2009 ACT will provide information and guidance to help co-operative enterprises to do these things not only more easily but more effectively, and with maximum impact from doing them together. 2. Lobby and campaign with the EU political institutions, and seek funding 3. The EU sets many laws and targets that directly affect many of our co-operatives and their members (recognising that some countries represented in COOPERATIVES EUROPE are not members of the EU). The EU will be an important contributor at the Copenhagen Conference, it is therefore vital that our collective voice is heard by, and has an impact on, our political leaders. There are EU funds available that we will try to access to help pay for some of our work in this area. This is all only possible if we work together.
FROM SOFIA BG (JUNE 2009) TO BRUSSELS BE (MAY 2010)4
“The affirmation of our models of enterprise as an example of resilience and as an opportunity for diversity and creativity in a world in which there is a prevailing tendency towards uniformity and standardisation, is a challenge that we should take up together. We have already begun to do so in our sectoral and national organisations and this is a task that we must pursue on a daily basis within COOPERATIVES EUROPE at the service of all European co-operators. This action feeds upon our shared values and personal commitment. We must believe in what we are doing and realise that our strength lies within us”. Etienne Pflimlin, co-President
COOPERATIVES EUROPE Annual Report and Activity Focus – May 2010
2009, as the final full year of the current mandate for COOPERATIVES EUROPE, has inevitably been one composed of the consolidation of work practices and the culmination of the previous 3 years rolling work programmes. Our life cycle has partially converged with that of the two major institutions of the European Union that COOPERATIVES EUROPE interacts with, namely the European Parliament and the European Commission. The new parliament (June 2009) and the nomination of the new Commission gave the opportunity to layout the framework and content that we see as the foundation for the work with these institutions for the next 4 years. A contact group has been formed with Members of the European Parliament to give us an audience of ‘friends of the co-operative business model’ that will assist us in getting our message into the legislative process and equally, acting as an alert system to keep COOPERATIVES EUROPE and its members aware of the current political debates and strategies that are forming the basis of growth and development in the EU. The new mandates and new Commissioners taking office at the beginning of 2010 give us the opportunity to reformulate our own lobby and communication strategies to ensure that the voice of the European Co-operative Movement will be heard at all levels of the executive bodies of the EU. Our continuing presence and visibility in these centres of policy development and implementation must remain our prime concern in the coming years. The full commissioning of the ‘Cooperative House’ in Brussels is now providing an efficient home for the governing structures of COOPERATIVES EUROPE and it enables the secretariat team to maintain a fully functional visibility to the outside world whilst providing a supportive centre for delivering services to our members. The establishment of EURICSE as a centre for research and innovative thinking will increasingly fill the gap that has existed in our own planning and development processes. All member organisations are encouraged to take full advantage of the Centre’s research programmes and events and to actively consider the mainstreaming of this approach to their own development strategies. The current economic climate following the disastrous effects of the crisis within the financial institutions has heightened the need for an effective and respected lobbying function for COOPERATIVES EUROPE. The consultation committee – EUCC - continues to rise to this challenge, be it at the consultative level of providing opinions on Commission legislative proposals or the timely defense of co-operative values and principals at the executive decision making levels. The legal challenges before the European Commission have not all as yet run their full course and still demand the attention of the EUCC. The experience and expertise of the sector organisations and the national apex bodies continue to prove their worth in the formulation of the considered positions of COOPERATIVES EUROPE. We now play an active role in EU working groups in the Development field and are called upon as experts to develop policy and opinions. Whilst the European Union is a focus of much of our work, co-operative development in the wider Europe is not forgotten. The emerging economies in the Balkans region have the potential of providing fertile ground for new co-operative initiatives. An EU funded project in Montenegro could well provide a model for co-operative development in the region. Similarly, the holding of the 2010 Regional Assembly in Μοscow will hopefully be the start of an enhanced relationship with members in that part of our European region. Externally funded projects (e.g. Coop Erasmus and Territorial Quality Standards in Social services) contributed to the scope of activities with the second EU funded Social Dialogue project providing significant interaction with our member organisations. The three year involvement with the Social Partner Programme has given us valuable information and an understanding of the role co-
operatives play in the national and European Social Dialogues. Currently there is no consensus in the national and European member organizations to give a mandate to COOPERATIVES EUROPE as the cross sector co-operative organization in the context of the European Social Dialogue. This is particularly so in the field of negotiation, but also initially even as a European Social Partner in the consultation process. Therefore the idea to create an optional cross-sector Co-operative Employer Association to start a reinforced co-operation between co-operatives and trade unions was considered at the European conference in Sofia. The introduction of ‘growth and development’ funding streams have enabled individual member organisations to contribute resources to COOPERATIVES EUROPE for support for particular issues of concern to them that can be addressed at the European wide level. This funding has enabled us to take initiatives in the pharmacy and energy sectors that bring together networks of service providers for joint engagements. The ACT! Project, providing a common voice for co-operators in ‘Addressing the Climate Threat’ has formed working relationships with other campaigning groups and international organisations whilst aiming to enable co-operatives and their members to monitor and reduce their own carbon footprints. On the overall management front, the Board of Directors, the Executive Committee and the staff have diligently addressed the financial management and budgetary control issues presented by the increasing demands on the limited available funds. An active involvement in the management and development of the global ICA has likewise demanded committed efforts to attain a mutually productive working relationship. A measure of the magnitude and professionalism of the input that COOPERATIVES EUROPE has made to the global organisation is reflected in the election, with no opposing candidates, of Dame Pauline Green as President of the ICA. We can all be assured that COOPERATIVES EUROPE will continue to benefit from Dame Pauline’s passion and expertise in cooperative matters that she will undoubtedly be using to address the issues of concern to all cooperative organisations and their members.
IN DETAIL ...
Throughout the year the objective was to pursue the building of support for the co-operative model of business at the national and European levels and to promote the co-operative form of enterprise and to protect and defend it as and when necessary. As the effects of the credit crisis of previous years took hold and European economies grappled with the effects of deep recession, co-operative enterprises redoubled their efforts to prove their sustainability and their worth as a safe haven. COOPERATIVES EUROPE attempted to support these individual efforts by building support for the co-operative business model at the European and national levels. The need to protect and defend the co-operative values and principles unfortunately did not go away but in some instances that need was brought into sharper focus.
COOPERATIVES EUROPE adopted and promoted several position papers on cross-sectoral issues, mainly on territorial cohesion, enterprise policy, civil dialogue and the new EU2020 strategy for Europe. The main message running through all these papers was that in the current economic climate, co-operatives show their stability and sustainability and represent a model of enterprise particularly fit to tackle and overcome the present crisis. Defending and promoting co-operatives is necessary for the maintenance of the European Social Model and for a competitive economy in Europe. The plurality of forms of doing business must be implemented in the different European policies. All the draft positions were adopted by the European Union Coordination Committee (EUCC), the committee of COOPERATIVES EUROPE responsible for all aspects concerning the preparation, analysis, decision-making and communication related to the consultation process vis-à-vis the
European Union’s institutions. Twenty five representatives from national apex and European sector federations actively participated in its work under the presidency of Etienne Pflimlin. There were four physical meetings. The COOPERATIVES EUROPE’s Accounting Working Group (supported by the EACB and working primarily by email co-ordination) worked on the accounting standards issue of the distinction between liabilities and equities and the characteristic of co-operatives shares. The issue on accounting standards for SME’s was also addressed. The ongoing state aid issue continued to demand attention and fine analysis as decisions and announcements by the European Commission were made. Members were kept informed of developments and provided with the analysis and facts to enable them to be prepared if similar attacks were made at the local level. A draft manifesto is in preparation that will contain the political orientations and arguments of the co-operative movement and will serve as guideline for all organizations vis-à-vis the European and national institutions. A coherent political approach in all member states and at EU level will increase the credibility of the co-operative movement and its chance of influence the decision-making process. Two reports on the legal actions against cooperative were made for the Co-operatives Research Institute of Japan. An essential feature of the strategy to promote and to defend the co-operative business model is to have direct contact with representatives in the European economic and Social Committee (CESE) and the European Parliament. Following the model of the contact group within the CESE a co-operatives contact network has been established in the European Parliament to give us an audience of ‘friends of the co-operative business model’ that will assist us in getting our message into the legislative process and equally, acting as an alert system to keep COOPERATIVES EUROPE and its members aware of the current political debates and strategies that are forming the basis of growth and development in the EU. A further contact point in the European Parliament is the Social Economy intergroup. COOPERATIVES EUROPE is a member of different 'experts groups' such as SMEs envoy and the group on Company Law. COOPERATIVES EUROPE meets regularly with the Directors and Heads of Unit in the European Commission with the aim of consolidating the recognition of the co-operative business model within all the Directorates of DG Enterprise, Employment and DG Internal Market. Contacts with key European Commissioners and their offices are also taken when issues of relevance to us arise. COOPERATIVES EUROPE initiated the idea of an own initiative opinion by the European Economic and social Committee on the plurality of entrepreneurial form of enterprise. The initiative was supported by the co-operative members and the proposal was accepted. The co-rapporteur was Marie Zvolska from the Czech co-operative movement with A. Mathis of COOPERATIVES EUROPE as an expert. The opinion described the diversity of forms of enterprise that are found in the European Union and endorses the often stated view of COOPERATIVES EUROPE that there is a need for a legal framework, along with a competition policy, that is instrumental in creating a level playing field for all the different forms of enterprise whilst taking into consideration the characteristics of each form. COOPERATIVES EUROPE is an active member of Social Economy Europe where the co-operative representatives defend the entrepreneurial approach of the concept of social economy under the principle of subsidiarity. A large amount of time was devoted to the follow up of the restructuring process but unfortunately no agreement could be reached on the draft statute. The 2004 Communication of the Commission on the promotion of Co-operative societies in Europe [com (2004) 18 final] established a major action plan for the development of co-operative enterprises across the European Union. The Communication stated that the Commission, closely associating all stakeholders, should assess the progress made in relation to the objectives set out. COOPERATIVES EUROPE and its members strongly reacted to the first draft of the assessment report for it contained several points of concern. A specific working group has been set up to deal with
this issue with the objective of drafting a proposal for a new communication for co-operatives to be discussed with the Commission. To-date the working group has met twice and will present a document in June. As a member of the consortium with EURICSE and foundation EZAI, a study on the implementation of the Regulation 1435/2003 on the statute for European Co-operatives Society (SCE) for the European Commission will be undertaken. The actions to be undertaken are: Mapping of the relevant legislation implementing SCE in EU and EEA countries; Mapping of the national legislation on co-operatives; Inventory of SCEs and related information; Analysis of the degree of success of the Regulation; Other issues concerning visibility of the co-operatives sector. As Member of the Scientific Committee, COOPERATIVES EUROPE is charged with the preparation and adoption of the working programme; the follow up of the work undertaken by national experts and to contribute to the writing of the final recommendations. The first interim report was presented on 31 March to the Commission and the project should be completed by October 2010. In order to establish networks and to disseminate information about co-operativess and COOPERATIVES EUROPE activities we participated in different events with presentations such as ‘Context and Perspectives for the European Cooperatives Statutes –SCE’ (Amice December 2009) or the ‘Contribution of the co-operatives to the global social and economical development’ (CUS Portoros March 2010).
TERRITORIAL QUALITY STANDARDS IN SOCIAL SERVICES OF GENERAL INTEREST
COOPERATIVES EUROPE is partner of the project TQS in SSGI – Territorial Quality Standards in Social Services of General Interest. The project, co-financed by the European Commission, is lead by REVES, the European Network of Cities and Regions for the Social Economy and includes 16 partners from 7 countries. The project aims to develop local mechanisms for a participatory redefinition and measuring of local quality standards for social services of general interest (SSGI). These mechanisms would be oriented to service users, service providers, local authorities and the local community and would try to respond in a more effective way to their needs. More specifically, the project foresees to develop and test mechanisms to identify criteria for the definition of local quality standards (who should participate in the definition of these standards? How? When?), to ensure that local quality standards comply with national and EU requirements, to identify indicators for quality in SSGI and to improve local policies concerning the SSGI provision. At the European Conference in Marseille in spring 2009, when the project was launched, the role of co-operatives was highlighted in the provision of social services and their capacity to build quality in a different way by associating users. At the second conference, held in Faenza in Fall 2009, COOPERATIVES EUROPE together with CECOP presented the study on how co-operative principles influence quality criteria in the social services provided by co-operatives. The analysis shows for instance how the 2nd Co-operative principle – Democratic member control is then translated into criteria having an effect on quality in SSGI provision: members’ need satisfaction, empowerment, self efficiency and autonomy of workers as well of service users and promotion of economic, social and cultural interests of the members.
Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs is a European exchange programme aimed at helping new entrepreneurs to acquire relevant skills for managing a small or medium-sized enterprise by spending time (1 to 6 months) in an enterprise managed by an experienced entrepreneur in another European country.
COOPERATIVES EUROPE and the other 7 European partners of the consortium COOPERASMUS (COUK OPERATIVES , CEPES ANDALUCIA, UNCCUE, ELABORA-CONFCOOPERATIVE, INFORCOOP-LEGACOOP, CCUBULGARIA, COOMPANION) have been selected to be Intermediary organisations. Intermediary organisations help new and host entrepreneurs in getting in contact and assist them during the relationship. On 1st March 2010 more than 80 applications have been collected and 15 relationships are ongoing. This is a great opportunity for the co-operative movement. Firstly, this project responds to a need which our businesses have been expressing several times in the past i.e. new entrepreneurs/cooperators, especially in the start-up phase, need to exchange experience with experienced entrepreneurs. Secondly, this is another official recognition of co-operatives as key actors in the European economy and lastly, it is a great chance to foster the creation of new co-operative businesses and to enable our co-operatives to gain an international dimension.
Two further reports for the Co-operatives Research Institute of Japan were completed: “The social service sector – a new growth sector for co-operatives” and “School co-operatives – bringing co-op values into the education system”
EU PROJECT ON SOCIAL DIALOGUE - SPP-C
The project COOPSEUROPE/SPP-C was the follow-up project of COOPERATIVES EUROPE Social partner program VP/2006/001 run in 2006-2007. It builds on the first results in the field of representativeness and participation of co-operative organizations within the social dialogue across the EU 27. After a quantitative analysis of the situation, the SPP-C program aimed to improve the qualitative knowledge about the situation of national and European Sector dialogue of the co-operative organisations, to evaluate and demonstrate added value of national and European participation of co-operatives in their respective Social Dialogues, and to strengthen cooperation with other European Social partners. This was reached through activities such as seminars, working groups, expertise and a reinforced cooperation with the other European Social Partners. The main components have been different regional seminars in Stockholm, Nicosia, Rome and Paris, bringing together representatives of the co-operative organisations and trade unions of the different EU countries; at these seminars. The participants were invited to present the situation of the social dialogue and industrial relations in their countries and how it could be further developed. A reflection seminar with the participation of Maria Helena André, secretary general of the ETUC, and Commissioner Špidla, was also organized, confirming that the shape of the world after the crisis will be different and that now there is the potential to introduce new actors and open up the dialogue to other partners as the co-operatives. The final project publication, presented in October 2009 in Brussels, highlighted then different cases of co-operative participation within the Social Dialogue and the added value brought by these specific employer organizations to the dialogue. Even if the co-operative movement is heterogeneous, it distinguishes itself by the same clear values for all the co-operative enterprises. This qualitative work on the co-operative employer organizations will be followed during the next years and ongoing cooperation with the social partners further been enhanced.
DEVELOPMENT OF CO-OPERATIVES IN THE BALKANS - MONTENEGRO
Together with COSV, an Italian Development NGO active in Montenegro for the last ten years and with the support of an Italian/Swiss Foundation (FAI), COOPERATIVES EUROPE supported different activities for a co-operative development in the country. The aim of this initiative is to analyze the feasibility of modernizing the co-operative system in Montenegro, the possibility of creating a positive legal framework for co-operatives and to develop new sectors and co-operatives. Following a positive evaluation and reception of a feasibility report, the COSV, EURICSE, the Union of Montenegrin Co-operatives, several Ministries, CECOP and COOPERATIVES EUROPE introduced a project to introduce the co-operative model in the country. The project introduced end of April 2009 and is in the process of signature is entitled “Support to comprehensive Rural Development in Montenegro, through rehabilitation of the co-operative system”. The main objectives of the project are the elaboration and definition of a general law on cooperative enterprises, capacity building by training of key civil servants on strategic and operative management of co-operative entrepreneurship and the dissemination and sensitization of the legislative instruments and about the possibility of creating co-operative business in the organic producers and the social service sector.
LE GRAND MAGASIN
COOPERATIVES EUROPE is an active partner in the project entitled “Le Grand Magasin”, in collaboration with the Cultural Department Neuköln Berlin, the Federal Cultural Foundation Germany and the EU Culture program. Le Grand Magasin, which opened its doors on the 9th October 2008, is a shop displaying and selling only products manufactured in European co-operative enterprises. Whilst containing all the facilities of a usual shop, Le Grand Magasin also acts as a forum for various activities, including lectures, round tables, conferences and exhibitions. A special feature of the project is the interaction between designers and the worker co-operatives. Around 20 designers and artists have been selected to generate and develop hand in hand with the co-operatives new products and marketing strategies. The results of these collaborations will be presented at 3 exhibitions and also illustrated in a catalogue. The transformation of the shop into a new model of consumer co-operative “Le Grand Magasin Coopératif” will expand the activities and grow it from a pilot project into a continuous initiative and model. An e-shop is being developed to run parallel to the existing presence within a shopping mall. Thanks to a strong presence in the media, the project has also recently gained land and experienced much attention from television, radio, newspapers, activists and reviewers. It is a successful attempt of reinforcing the collaboration between worker and consumer co-operatives, supporting the interactions between designers and co-operators, exposing co-operative products and presenting the co-operative model as a different form of enterprise. A conference is being organized in May 2010 to conclude the project cycle.
ACT! – CO-OPERATIVES ADDRESSING THE CLIMATE THREAT
A website was created to provide visibility to the project and a platform for co-operatives and cooperators to interact. www.actonclimate.coop has utilised new media technologies such as twitter and facebook to gather support for co-operative action and has provided daily blog articles updating people on global climate news, relative to co-operative organisations and co-operators. A partnership was formed with the UN ‘Seal the Deal’ campaign prior to the Copenhagen Climate Summit Dec 2009. Many co-operatives showed their support towards creating a European Cooperative Voice on the issue. ACT! became a founding member of the 10:10 campaign, in the UKIt is hoped that this relationship will lead to Co-operatives Europe being a significant partner in spreading the campaign globally. The project researched and identified significant campaigning and project actions for 2010 and beyond to be discussed by a political steering group. These will include; Involvement in 10:10 global, Greener Together Europe and co-ordination of a European co-operative closed loop ‘offset’ scheme. The political steering group will be formed at the Moscow GA to strategically plan the future direction of ACT!
LOBBY ON DEVELOPMENT
To effectively work on a co-operative strategy for development a COOPERATIVES EUROPE Development Policy Group met several times. Representatives of the DG Enlargement, DG External Relations and DG Development as well as of the EuropeAid office took part in some of the meetings. The Development Policy Group gave a mandate to a smaller Advisory Committee to closely follow the meetings and to elaborate a strategy. After different contacts, the three EC Directorate General mainly dealing with development – DG External Relations, DG Enlargement and the EuropeAid office – have been inviting COOPERATIVES EUROPE to participate in several consultative committees and meetings on the EU development strategy, such as: Evaluation of the Commission’s aid delivery through Civil Society Organisations (Europe Aid) Meeting on the Mid-Term Review of the 2007-2013 Strategy Papers under the Development Co-operation Instruments (DG External Relations) Preparatory meeting and participation at the 2009 program of Regional Seminars on “Thematic Instruments and Programmes: reinforcing the Civil Society” (EuropeAid). The lobby activities have also strongly been enhanced with the launching of a EU structured dialogue. The aim of this process is to build consensus on the main issues concerning the role of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in development cooperation and to find ways to improve the involvement and efficiency of EU cooperation, to advance and strengthen partnerships and adopt finally EU strategies and modalities accordingly. The stakeholders participating in this also socalled “Quadrilogue” are from the Civil Society Organisations (CSO) - including COOPERATIVES EUROPE and Local and Regional authorities (LRA), the European Commission, the Members states and the European Parliament. This dialogue started officially the 23rd of March 2010, shaping the programs 2014-2020 of the aid delivery by the Commission and is the first one year-cycle of a long term dialogue on development strategy with the different stakeholders. COOPERATIVES EUROPE became member of the EU CSO Group on International Development, composed by the dozen of main European Civil Society networks. The CSO Group has therefore no formal structure, no membership fee nor a secretariat. The objective is to learn from each other, pool knowledge, challenge some EU thinking in a holistic and coherent way. The added value of this group is a real constructive exchange between CSO networks, learning from each other, create alliances and better follow the structured dialogue. The main objective of the meetings is however to build a common position between CSOs to speak with one voice at the Quadrilogue meetings. This group meets monthly.
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