Cooperatives high on the agenda of the Cyprus Presidency

On September 28-29, 2012 the Cyprus Presidency of the Council of the EU hosted a high-level cooperative conference in Nicosia as part of the EU’s contributions to the UN International Year of Cooperatives. Around 200 participants attended the event, which was organised by Cooperatives Europe and the Cypriot Authority for the Supervision and Development of Cooperative Societies.

The role of cooperative enterprises in the European economy – The conference provided critical insights about the diversity and the economic weight of the European cooperative economy in particular to representatives from 17 member states’ government representatives.

Constantinos L. Lyras, Commissioner of the Cyprus Authority for the supervision and development of cooperative societies, stated: “The long term view of cooperative enterprises has protected them against hazardous, speculative short-term focused investments.“

Neoklis Sylikiotis, Cyprus Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism, said: “Cooperatives ensure sustainability and are continuously developing and innovating“

Costas Andropoulos, official from the EU Commission’s Enterprise & Industry Unit, added: “Cooperatives are developing economic activities not only in the classic sectors of agriculture or banking, but also in various innovative domains, such as health or renewable energy. Those efforts must be preserved, promoted and supported.”

Better regulation through differentiation – EU policies tend to focus on harmonising rules and regulations for enterprises in general in the EU. The discussions, however, stressed the need for a differentiated policy making approach for different forms of enterprises. The presentations and discussions highlighted the distinct cooperative form of business, which leads to different economic and social outcomes than their shareholding peers. Regulations taking those differences into account instead of pursuing a ‘one size fits all’ approach will clearly lead to better outcomes for policy-makers, cooperatives and the society at large.

Need for a revised European Cooperative Statute – The Commission’s current consultation about the potential revision of the European Cooperative Statute was discussed with member states on the second day of the conference. While there was no overall consensus about the right way forward with this regulation, given the small number of cooperatives having adopted it so far, most participants stressed the need for simplification and clarification of its key objectives.

Klaus Niederländer, Director of Cooperatives Europe and moderator of the different cooperative sessions, summed up the lively discussions by stating: ”In these times of economic uncertainty and social pressure in Europe, policy makers and cooperatives need to work more closely together to provide new solutions. Action is a must and simply waiting is not an option. New ways of collaboration will have to be tested.”

All presentations will be made available on this page shortly.

You can download the full press release here.

Pictures and presentations can be found on the CY Presidency website

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