Co-operatives call on EU to do more to support diversity in the European economy

In her speech to the European Union’s Informal Council of Industry Ministers, Dame Pauline Green, President of the International Co-operative Alliance, told the EU that it needs to do more to support a diverse, strong European economy.

Dame Pauline Green spoke to a meeting in Poland of Ministers discussing European competitiveness in the run up to 2012, the United Nations Year of Co-operatives. Dame Pauline used the speech to highlight that, although co-operatives are successful values based businesses, understanding of them amongst policy makers is limited. The result, she explained, is that the European economy is denied creative growth potential and economic diversity because co-operatives are inhibited from maximising their contribution. Dame Pauline singled out three priorities for the EU.

  • Increasing understanding of the co-operative business model amongst policy makers in the Brussels and member states, so that co-operatives are on a level playing field with other businesses.
  • Supporting legislative change in member states, so that legislation is fit for purpose, is enabling rather than prescriptive, and encourages growth rather than constrains it.
  • Opening up the EU’s policy framework to recognise and support the development of modern co-operative business.

Dame Pauline Green said : “With 2012 designated the International Year of Co-operatives by the United Nations, the European Union needs to respond. Co-operatives are proven, successful values based businesses that can contribute to a strong competitive European economy. Europe would benefit significantly from greater diversity in the economy. Action by the EU to increase understanding and support legislative change would be an easy and welcome step towards this.”

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