Co-operative Enterprises: Key Actors in the EU ‘Agenda for Change’

On 13th October, EU Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs, unveiled the ‘Agenda for Change’ of EU Development policy.  This communication is the basis of the future EU development strategy, with which the EU aims to re-prioritize its delivery of aid to developing countries to ensure maximum impact on poverty reduction.

Recognition of co-operatives – The ‘Agenda for Change’ specifically mentions co-operative enterprises: “Economic growth needs a favorable business environment. The EU should support the development of competitive local private sectors […] by building local institutional and business capacity, promoting SMEs and cooperatives […]”.

The EU as a donor – The European Union as a whole (Member States plus EuropeAid, Commission-managed funds) is the biggest donor of official development aid worldwide. In 2010, it provided €53.8 billion (more than 50% of global aid). The European Commission is responsible for the management of €11 billion of aid per year, putting it in second place among donors globally.

Klaus Niederländer, Director of Cooperatives Europe: “Being directly mentioned as an important local business actor in the strategy document of the biggest donor of official development aid worldwide is a great achievement for co-operatives. We will now be aiming at the same recognition within other EU policies: co-operatives are protagonists of economic and social development everywhere.”

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