Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2012-03-12-Speech-1-207-000"

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". Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, this year we are celebrating the Year of Cooperatives, as declared by the United Nations. Cooperatives are part of the social and solidarity economy and have a very particular significance for the general economy, including in the European Union. Some 160 million enterprises are active in this area. They have 120 million members, to whom these enterprises belong, and 5.4 million employees. That shows that the cooperative sector is an important one. This sector has regional roots. It has shown itself to be stable, even in the financial crisis and, at the same time, it is also contributing to the achievement of the Europe 2020 objectives, not only in relation to growth and employment, but also in respect of social cohesion and climate protection, for example. That is precisely why the European Union should take seriously the mandate conferred on it by the Treaty to remain neutral in relation to different forms of ownership and to take account of the special characteristics of cooperatives. While working on this report, we worked particularly well with all of the shadow rapporteurs and I would like to thank them most sincerely for that. I see that Ms Regner is also still here at this late hour. In our work, we attached particular importance to the question of how the Statute for a European Cooperative Society – which was also established within the framework of the European Cooperative Society – can be amended. After all, it is a sad fact that the recognition for the cooperative sector accompanying the establishment of the legal form of the European Cooperative Society has, unfortunately, not yet been crowned with a great deal of success. In total, despite an extensive process, only 17 European Cooperative Societies have been founded and only 32 workers have found work in these enterprises. It is clear that this process of a directive and a statute is too complicated. It does not meet the needs of the sector in terms of its cross-border business. We would therefore like to see a revision, but a revision of the statute first of all, and without lowering the standards that were sensibly established. The standards for workers must be given particular consideration in this regard. However, our Committee on Employment and Social Affairs was not satisfied with that. Instead, we took a look at the other support measures for the sector of the social and solidarity economy. Here we see, above all, that the competences for this sector are extremely fragmented within the Commission, despite several statements by Parliament. A lack of resources is also evident in the lack of results. We have few members of staff in this area, and these people are distributed throughout the various Directorates General. We would like the Commission to take the initiative to enhance the open method of coordination in this area and to initiate a procedure for the systematic comparison of the best experiences in the Member States for promoting the social and solidarity economy. We also propose that the activities that the Commission has already adopted in its 2004 Communication on the promotion of cooperative societies in Europe, that is to say the 12 actions that were placed on the agenda in this Communication, now be put into practice. Only three of the 12 actions have been implemented. Still outstanding, for example, is an extensive education programme in this area, but also a systematic recognition of the special characteristics of cooperation societies. We would also like the special nature of cooperative societies and the social economy to be recognised in the area of public procurement and State Aid in particular, as well as in connection with the regulation of the financial markets. It is unacceptable for precisely those sectors that have proven to be particularly helpful during the financial crisis to become victims of the rules once the crisis is over. I call on the Commission to go beyond the rules of the internal market in this area. Please get started on this and strengthen the social and solidarity economy."@en1

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