The attached questionnaire is part of an initiative included in the CECOP 2008-2010 strategic plan and in the CECOP 2008 work plan, both of which have been approved by the CECOP Congress on 30 April 2008.

The objective of this initiative is to gradually attain European and world standards about social cooperatives and related concepts, in a similar fashion to the definition of the world standards about worker cooperatives implemented under CICOPA's coordination between 2002 and 2004. Similarly to the latter case, this new initiative will be done through a gradual consultation process with members.

Like the worker cooperative standards and the general cooperative ones (Manchester 1995), it is essential for our movement to try and define those standards, because standards are one of the most central tools in the defence and promotion of our enterprise model. The attached questionnaire is the very first step of this consultation process.

It was elaborated by the secretariat, presented to the Board on 25 June for information, and modified with suggestions from some Board members.

We will probably come back to you in a second stage with a more targeted questionnaire, based on the results of this one. Thus, this questionnaire is not ‘your last word' on the question.

You are invited to express opinions on ‘how it should be', not to describe the current legal framework in your country. Nevertheless, we ask you to respond not in your personal capacity, but in the name of your organisation.

It is up to each organisation to define its own opinion on the issue and the way in which this process should take place. But in order to move forward and to have a first debate within the CECOP Board (on 30 September) based on the results of this first questionnaire, may we ask you to fill it in and send it to us for 1st September at the latest?

The organisations that are specialised in social cooperatives, and those that have among their affiliates social cooperatives or worker cooperatives employing disadvantaged persons or delivering social or health services, are of course those that are most concerned by this questionnaire.

Nevertheless, we invite members that do not have such cooperatives among their affiliates to respond to the questionnaire as well. If your organisation is in this case but prefers to abstain, may we ask you to inform us explicitly about this abstaining position, so that we can take it into account along the consultation process?

Thank you very much in advance for your cooperation.