Survey report: COVID 19 impact on cooperatives
On 14th of September Cooperatives Europe released Survey Report: ‘Covid-19 crisis and its economic and social impact on cooperatives.’ Views and experiences were collected from cooperative enterprises active in the European region (incl. neighbourhood countries) and national members apex organisations, representing all together close to 90% of the cooperative movement in Europe across various sectors of economic activity (retail, culture & tourism, social services, etc.).
The three-part report addresses (i) the social and economic impact of the COVID-19 on cooperatives’ business activities, turnover and workforce; (ii) the most needed support measures to help them face the crisis; and (iii) considering the specific structure of the cooperative business model, how our enterprises are coping with the crisis (resilience).
This report is a key element for policy-makers at EU and Member State levels to understand the impact of the crisis on European cooperatives. Collected experiences show that the survival of certain small cooperatives was endangered, meanwhile sectors such as tourism saw a complete standstill in their activities. In terms of support services for businesses, issues existing before the crisis, such as lack of knowledge regarding the cooperative model, were only amplified, resulting in difficulties to find information regarding support measures from public authorities or financial institutions. In some cases, cooperatives were excluded from receiving grants, unlike other business models.
However the crisis brought to light the impact of the cooperative difference. For example the 6th cooperative principle, ‘Cooperation among cooperatives’ helped businesses better face the crisis, seeing new collaborations and activities emerge to support each other, and also the local communities.
These experiences clearly illustrate that in Europe, cooperatives need tailored support measures, such as deferring payments of utilities, social security contributions, loans or taxes, to help them face the aftermath of the crisis in order to thrive again. Financial stress alleviation in the form of grants is particularly necessary, as well as the inclusion of cooperative organisations in the policy-making process.
The report will feed into Cooperatives Europe’s policy claims to decision-makers in EU and Member States to advocate for specific and comprehensive support measures for cooperatives that would help our enterprises recover from this crisis.