Brussels, 22 September 2017 – CECOP – CICOPA Europe, the European confederation of industrial and service cooperatives, welcomes the European Commission’s Communication for a “Renewed EU Industrial Policy Strategy” but regrets the lack of support and consideration for cooperatives: yet a “future-proofing business model” that combines sustainability and adaptability to new societal challenges.

Out of the 50,000 cooperative enterprises inside CECOP’s network, above 20% are active in industry, covering a wide range of activities from wood manufacturing to car industry, civil engineering to pharmaceutical industry, from traditional to emerging industries. While constantly adjusting to new challenges, such as environmental and technological transformations, cooperatives are also an efficient tool to maintain traditional industrial activities and skills in European territories. CECOP Secretary General, Bruno Roelants, says: “The cooperative enterprise model has proven its constant ability to adapt to major transformations, from the worker-owned cooperatives that have appeared with the industrial revolution to cooperative horizontal groups, clusters or multi-stakeholder cooperatives, particularly adapted to emerging industries requiring high investment in innovation, R&D and value chain. Recent development of cooperative start-ups demonstrate that there are a suitable and attractive model also for digital activities.” In order to “make Europe’s industry stronger”, CECOP recommends the European Commission to not only focus on emerging industry but also to intensify efforts, in collaboration with Members States, to preserve its traditional industry, which is often subject to closure and relocation, despite its profitability.

Thousands of cooperatives across Europe are the result of employee’s buyouts of enterprises. These are still viable and, by not closing down, they contribute to preserving jobs but also the European industrial heritage and skills, that are at the risk of being lost. Knowing their resilience and adaptability: - Cooperatives should be promoted as one of the key tools in case of business transfers or buyouts, and consequently; - The Commission should urge Member States to adopt proper legislation for cooperatives active in industry, more specifically legislation for worker cooperatives, which have demonstrated being the most appropriate form of cooperative in this economic sector.
CECOP also calls for adequate legal framework for the establishment of cooperative groups and clusters, which can mutualize advisory, financial, innovation and internationalization services among cooperative SMEs. In some Member States, cooperatives are not even recognized as enterprises, which prevents them to properly operate on the market and to benefit from funds and measures dedicated to enterprise development. Finally, CECOP welcomes measures to boost large infrastructure projects but more attention is needed towards SMEs. The majority of cooperatives active in industry being of small and medium size, they require specific support to innovate or access external markets and specific forms of financing. ENDS Press contact: Reza Opdebeeck (+32)485/506.671 CECOP – CICOPA Europe (European Confederation of Worker Cooperatives, Social Cooperatives and Social and Participative Enterprises) groups national organisations in 15 countries, which in turn affiliate over 50,000 cooperative and participative enterprises in industry and services, the vast majority being SMEs, and employing 1.4 million workers across Europe. Most of them are characterised by the fact that the majority of their employees are member-owners, while some of them are second-degree enterprises for SMEs. Furthermore, around 4,000 of these enterprises are specialised in the reintegration of disadvantaged and marginalised workers (persons with disabilities, long-term unemployed, former prisoners, addicts, etc.).