Among the central topics discussed at the congress was the new German cooperative law which came into force only three months ago, and which lowers the minimum number of members to establish a cooperative from 7 to 3, thus opening a huge potential for new cooperatives in that country, especially in our sector.

Another main theme was how the solidarity economy could organise in Germany itself, as well as at the world level. Paul Singer, Brazilian secretary of state for the solidarity economy, explained how the solidarity economy was developing in Brazil, after the huge success of a first national congress earlier this year (see news on this site).

Jose Abelli, leader of the MNER (Argentinean Movement of Recovered enterprises) explained how a new industrial cooperative movement had been developing in Argentina in the wake of the 2001 crisis. Several other presentations were made by Venezuelan cooperative activists.

Norman Chipakuparu from Trade Africa 2000 introduced the fair trade dimension, and underlined the need to develop the cooperative movement and the social economy in Africa. Renate Roentgen from Legacoopsociali (a CICOPA and CECOP member) introduced the Italian social cooperative movement.

Bruno Roelants, general secretary of CICOPA and CECOP, explained how the cooperative movement was organised at the European and world level, and introduced the Italian legal and financial mechanism allowing workers to transform failing industries into cooperatives and develop existing ones, around the financial cooperative CFI, also a CICOPA and CECOP member (

Giovanni Acquati from the Italian Banca Etica introduced RIPESS, a world “network of networks” of social and solidarity economy, of which he is the president.

For further information, click here for the press release of the conference, and visit the website