Commissioner Bienkowska: Cooperatives as vehicles for EU entrepreneurial mind-set beyond job creation
With over 141 million cooperators in Europe, the contribution of cooperative enterprises to the EU is undeniable. As support and investment from the European institutions is crucial to the development and visibility of cooperatives not only on the EU level, but worldwide, Cooperatives Europe interviewed Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska, responsible for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, to talk about the past, present and future opportunities for cooperatives with the EU:
“Cooperatives do not only respond to market failures but are a model for community development rooted in solidarity, social progress or democracy.
For all these reasons, cooperatives can be seen as a business model contributing to social, economic and environmental sustainability. That is why co-operatives need to be promoted as they offer an entrepreneurial mind-set that goes well beyond simple job creation.
The Commission fully recognizes the important and positive role of cooperatives as vehicles for the implementation of many Community objectives.
Following the Commission's Communication "Europe's next leaders: The Start-up and scale-up initiative" and the work of our Expert Group on Social Entrepreneurship (GECES), we have started to implement various projects to boost the social economy and support social economy stakeholders. This year we are implementing a pilot project which aims to reduce youth unemployment and focuses on the set-up of cooperatives. We do so by promoting cooperatives in secondary schools and universities as an enabling way to start a business.
Further we are currently preparing a study on “New technologies and digitisation: opportunities and challenges for the social economy and social enterprises”. The goal of this study is to benchmark and diffuse initiatives and policies on global, European and national level to promote successful approaches to social economy and social enterprises using new technologies. This study will also address the future of social economy and digital cooperative economy platforms.”