A cooperative is an autonomous association of persons united to meet common economic, social, and cultural goals. They achieve their objectives through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise.
Cooperatives are enterprises that serve the needs of their members who contribute to their capital.
The Communication on the promotion of co-operative societies in Europe (2004) focuses on 3 main issues:
The Working Group on Cooperatives was established in 2013 to assess the specific needs of cooperative enterprises with regard to a wide variety of issues such as the appropriate EU regulatory framework, the identification of barriers at national level and the internationalisation of cooperatives.
Upon the recommendations of the Working Group, two pilot projects are being implemented:
Reduction of youth unemployment and the setup of cooperatives - This project will support the development of entrepreneurship education, focusing on cooperatives. It will encourage cooperatives to employ young people and promote start-ups. This will help provide youth employment and ensure the generational renewal of cooperatives. Two consortia have been chosen to implement the project. The project started in April 2017.
The European Cooperative Society is an optional legal form of a cooperative. It aims to facilitate cooperatives' cross-border and trans-national activities. An SCE must unite residents from more than one EU country.