2020 State of the Union: The cooperative take
On 16th of September, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, gave her first yearly State of the Union speech to the European Parliament, highlighting this year’s core actions and challenges as well as discussing the vision for the future.
While Europe is still dealing with the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on society, the debate takes place in a context of negotiating the EU’s next long-term budget. As outlined in our latest survey report “Covid-19 crisis and its economic and social impact on cooperatives”, the impact of the crisis on businesses like cooperatives is such that the EU should implement tailored support measures to help them face the aftermath of the crisis in order to thrive again.
We thus welcome the Commission’s initiative to update the Industrial Strategy for Europe in the light of the consequences of the pandemic on businesses, especially SMEs. Such update should allow all types of businesses to thrive in this transition towards a greener and a more digital Europe. Indeed, SMEs like cooperatives, need to have the proper framework to not only be resilient but also to comply with Europe’s new requirements; the target emissions are increasing from 40% to 55%. In this regard, we remind that renewable energy cooperatives are able to support European energy transitions on a community ownership level.
The pandemic and the lockdown highlighted the necessity of having an efficient digital environment in our daily lives. Cooperatives Europe welcomes the fact that 20% of the Next Generation EU will be allocated for digital development. But we also stress that a digital Europe implies improving the functioning of the European Digital Single Market, in order to enhance the capacity of European enterprises to operate in an economic environment based on a level playing field.
Cooperatives Europe welcomes the commitment to human rights, democracy and partnerships worldwide expressed by the President, addressing, among other topics,, migration flows and the upcoming pact on migration to be released next week. We remind that cooperatives are a vector of creativity and employment for migrant entrepreneurs who use this business model to create jobs and business ownership opportunities for themselves.
However, we regret that President von der Leyen did not refer to the eradication of poverty, the creation of decent jobs and inclusive growth in partner countries - key priorities of international development policy. Therefore, we call on European Commission to take this into account during the ongoing negotiations on the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI) and deliver a budget that supports partners contributing to resilient societies and livelihoods, such as cooperatives.