SUMMARY. Cooperatives are autonomous associations of people aspiring to achieve regional cooperatives can decrease price volatility (in the agricultural
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BRIEFING EPRS | European Parliamentary Research Service Author: Cemal Karakas Members’ Research Service PE 635.541 Œ February 2019 EN Cooperatives: Characteristics, activities, status, challenges SUMMARY Cooperatives are autonomous association s of pe ople aspiring to achieve their objectives through a jointly owned and democratically controlled enterprise. International organisations , such as the United Nations and the European Union (EU) , value the role cooperatives play for society , the economy and (inter national) development. There are 3 million cooperatives worldwide ; together, they provide employment for 280 million people , equating to 10 % of the world ‘s employed population. The 300 largest cooperatives and mutuals in the world had a total turnover of US$2.018 trillion in 2016. In the EU there are some 131 000 cooperatives , with more than 4.3 million employees and an annual turnover of •992 billion. While cooperatives have grown in importance for the (social ) economy over the past four decades, they face both long -standing and new challenges , resulting from globali sation or the presence of myriad national laws, but also from organisational and governance issues . Cooperatives have become more product -based and less region -based (in terms of member repr esentation). In addition, cross -border -oriented cooperatives and producer organisations often experience legal uncertainty because of the absence or inconsistent application of international legislation . Policy – and law -makers are currently discussing a nu mber of initiatives aimed at creating a level playing field for cooperatives , both in the EU and globally, that would allow them to compete with investor -oriented firms without giving up their social and cultural orientation. An enabling European legal fra mework could provide transversal recognition of the cooperative business model across the different sectors of the economy. While small and emerging cooperatives need more targeted funding , and assistance with capacity -building and organisational aspects , larger cooperatives require more EU and national -level support in order to achieve their aims in terms of professionali sation. In this Briefing Introduction Chara cteristics and identity Economic activities Legal status at national and EU level Governance aspects Challenges faced by cooperatives Commission and Parliament stance on cooperatives Outlook Annex

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EPRS | European Parliamentary Research Service 2 Introduction Cooperatives are a multi -faceted phenomenon . The International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) defin es them as follows: ‘ A cooperative is an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly owned and democ ratically controlled enterprise’. 1 Over the past fo ur decades, the importance of cooperatives for the economy has grown . According to popular social (capital) and economic theories , the added value of cooperatives is manifold: they realise economies of scale, create markets and give access to (long -distance) markets, manage risks (e.g. for farmers via pooling), increase market efficiency (e.g. through competition with traders with a high mark -up), reduce transaction costs (e.g. by standardising contracts and organising quality controls) and promote innovation (e.g. in niche products ). In addition, a large market share for regional cooperatives can decrease price volatility ( in the agricult ural sector, with regard to dairy products in particular). In comparison with profit -maximising investor -owned firms , cooperatives are considered better at : coping with economic cris es; driving economic development in low – to middle -income countries ; reinvesting surpluses ; promoting local communities and social inclusion; and ensuring their members ‘ (democratic) participation. 2 As a token of the int ernational community ‘s appreciat ion for the contribution cooperatives make to society and the economy , the UN declared 2012 the International Year of Cooperatives . However, cooperatives face some challenges in their interaction with law -makers in the EU and abroad. Recent EU initiatives, such as those focused on the collaborative economy or on unfair trading practices (UTPs) in the food -supply chain , have triggered a public debate about cooperatives, in which they themselves also take part . Characteristics and identity According to the Commission, cooperatives have several defining characteristics : 1) they are open and voluntary associations; 2) they have a democratic structure, with each member having one vote; and 3) they have an equitable and fair distribution of economic results based on the volume of operations mad e through them. In this regard, cooperatives are enterprises that serve the needs of their members, who, in turn, contribute to the cooperatives’ capital. The Commission ‘s characteristics are base d mainly on the 1995 International Cooperative Alliance ‘s revised mission statement on cooperative identity . The mission statement contains the definition of a cooperative, the values that cooperatives should espouse, and the seven principles that they should abide by, namely: (1) voluntary and open membership; (2) democratic member control; (3) economic participation of members; (4) autonomy and independence; (5) education, training and information; (6) cooperation among cooperatives; and (7) concern for community. Although these principles are not binding, some experts insist that they have a legal nature, as they were adopted by the International Labour Organization (ILO) in its Recommendation 193/2002 . According to those experts, the ILO recommendation should be considered a source of public international law. Regarding the ICA principles, there is a diverging perception and implementation rec ord. Some countries refer explicitly to the ICA norms in their national laws (e.g. Spanish Cooperative Act 27/1999, Portuguese Cooperative Code 51/1996 or Romanian Cooperative Act 1/2005), others do not mention them (e.g. Luxembourg). On the other hand, some experts argue that many ICA norms are too vague, one such example being the membership issue. According to the ICA principles, a cooperative has t he purpose of engaging in transactions with its members, but it does not set itself the aim of provid ing a return on the capital provided by members, as is the case , for instance, in investor -owned firms . While the capital -based remuneration of members is limited , the surpluses are distributed to members, often in proportion to transactions with the cooperative.

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Cooperatives: Characteristics, activities, status, challenges 3 Most EU Member States’ national laws on cooperatives Œ such as the Bulgarian, Cypriot, Danish, Maltese and Norwegian law Œ have no provisions regar ding investor -members ( such members do not use the services of the cooperative and their voting rights are limited ), which might be interpreted as a denial of their admissibility. Other Member States, e.g. Austria or Germany, allow cooperative statutes to provide for the admissibility of investor -members. In yet other Member States, such as Finland, the definition of cooperative included in the cooperative laws not only refers to the relationship between cooperatives and their members but also permits the c arrying out of activities with non -members, should the cooperative statutes so provide. This model was also adopted for the SCE Regulation (see ‘Legal status at national and EU level ‘ below). Economic activities According to a 2018 report on Exploring the Co operative Economy , produced by the ICA and the European Research Institute on Cooperative and Social Enterprises ( EURICSE ), cooperatives play an important role in the global economy. For the purposes of the report, economic and social data were collected from 2 575 cooperative enterprises and mutual organisations 3 around the world. As regards the financial aspects, the report established that in the reference year 2016, the 300 largest cooperatives and mutuals had a total turnover of US$2 018 trillion (compared to US$2 164 trillion in 2015). 4 According to the repor t, there are 3 million cooperatives worldwide, which together provide jobs for some 280 million persons , or 10 % of the world’s employed population. The economic activities of cooperat ives are divers e. In 2016, for instance, 33 % of all cooperatives (participating in the survey) operated in the agriculture and food industry; 19 % dealt with banking and financial services; 16 % were in other services (e.g. business services, transport, communications); 7 % were in industry and utilities; 6 % were insurance cooperatives and mutuals; and 4 % operated in the health, education and social care sectors. 5 Some 50 % of the 2 575 cooperatives surveyed come under the European Commission’s definitio n of small and medium -sized enterprises (SMEs) in terms of their yearly turnover (up to •50 million). 6 In 2016, the world’s five largest cooperatives (in terms of turnover) came from Europe and Japan: Groupe Crédit Agricole (France , banking and financial s ervices ), with a turnover of US$ 90.16 billion; Groupe BPCE (France , banking and financial services ), with US$ 67.78 billion; BVR (Germany , banking and financial services ) with US$ 55.36 billion; Zenkyoren (Japan , insurance ), with US$ 54.62 billion; and REWE Group (Germany , wholesale and retail trade ) with US$ 54.57 billion. 7 Taking a closer look at Europe and the EU, we could say that cooperative enterprises make a huge contribution to the European social economy . According to the 2016 report entitled The power of cooperation (with 2015 as its reference year), published by Cooperatives Europe, the ICA’s regional office , there were some 176 500 cooperative enterprises in Europe as a whole, with more than 4.7 million employees; of these, 131 000 cooperatives with more than 4.3 million employees were located in the EU Member States. 8 The total turnover of European cooperat ives was •1 004 trillion; more than •992 billion of this amount was generated in the EU Member States. In Europe as a whole, more than 141 million Œ 17 % of the continent’s population Œ were members of a cooperative (in the EU: more than 127 million). Betw een 2009 and 2015, the number of cooperative enterprises in Europe increased by 12 %, and of members by 14 %. 9 A comparison by sector, number of employees and turnover reveal s interesting facts. For instance, the retail sector, with less than 1 % of enterp rises, accounts for a turnover of almost 30 %, whereas the industry and services sector, with most employees and enterprises, accounts for less than 10 % of the total turnover of cooperatives Œ probably, because it numbers more SMEs (see Figure 1 ).

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EPRS | European Parliamentary Research Service 4 A comparison of countries shows that , in 2015 , Italy (39 600), Turkey (33 857), France (22 517) and Spain (20 050) had the largest number s of cooperatives in Europe. France (26 106 829), Germany (22 200 000), the Netherlands (16 912 900), the United Kingdom (14 919 093) and Italy (12 620 000) had the largest number s of members of cooperatives in Europe. France (1 217 466), Italy (1 150 200), Germany (860 000), Poland (300 000) and Spain (290 221) had the highest number s of cooperative employees in Europe. Cooperatives in France (•307 billion), Germany (•195 billion), Italy (•150 billion) and the Netherlands (•81 billion) had the highest annual turnover in Europe. According to Commission research, cooperatives hold substantial market shares in several industries: – agriculture Œ 83 % in the Netherlands, 79 % in Finland, 55 % in Italy and 50 % in France; – forestry Œ 60 % in Sweden and 31 % in Finland; – banking Œ 50 % in France, 37 % in Cyprus, 35 % in Finland, 31 % in Au stria and 21 % in Germany; – retail Œ 36 % in Finland and 20 % in Sweden; – pharmaceutical s and health care Œ 21 % in Spain and 18 % in Belgium. Since agricultur e is an important sector for cooperatives , it deserves a closer look. Cooperatives have a strong ma rket presence in the European food supply chain. According to a 2014 report entitled Development of Agricultural Cooperatives in the EU and published by COGECA ( General Confederation of Agricultural Cooperatives in the European Union ), in 2013 the total turnover of all agricultural cooperat ives added up to •347 billion . In the same year, t here were roughly 22 000 cooperatives with some 6.2 million members. The 100 largest agricultural cooperatives demonstrated a significant growth trend : from 2011 to 2013 , total turnover ha d grown by 18 %. Figure 1 Œ European cooperatives by sector/number of employees/turnover, 2015 (%) Data source : Cooperati ves Europe , The power of cooperation Œ Cooperatives Europe key figures 2015 .

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Cooperatives: Characteristics, activities, status, challenges 5 Legal status at national and EU level While national laws on cooperatives provide for a wide range of potential activities that cooperatives can engage in, they also place limitations on them. These depend on the relationship between the different types of cooperatives (producer s’, consumer s’/users ‘, worker s’, or multi -stakeholders ‘) and their members ; on the type of business (banking, agr iculture, retail, housing, etc.) or its specific targets (e.g. health issues) ; on the characteristics of the membership (e.g. primary or secondary cooperative) and on the size of the cooperative. 10 Most countries have specific rules applicable to cooperativ es, whereas the legislation on cooperatives (and their business and social activities ) derives mainly from national civil law , namely the respective sections of commercial law (see Annex ). In Japan, for instance, banking cooperatives are strong performers in the financial sector. In Switzerland, cooperatives are focused mainly on pursuing economic interests. Norway’s different understanding of cooperatives is reflected in the fact that they are expressly excluded from financial activities such as banking or stock exchange operations. 11 Within the EU, t here is a huge variety of national laws on cooperatives, which correspond to at least six formally different models of legislation: 12 – no cooperat ive law (e.g. Ireland); – cooperative regulation in a formally independent act (e.g. Austria, Germany ); – cooperative regulation in the commercial code (e.g. Czech Republic, Slovakia) ; – cooperative regulation in the compan y law (e.g. Luxembourg) or in the compa nies code (e.g. Belgium) ; – cooperative regulation in the civil code (e.g. Italy, the Netherlands) ; – cooperative regulation in the code of cooperative s (e.g. Portugal) . A few countries, such as Japan, even have separate cooperative laws for each sector. The U nited States, on the other hand, do not have a specific federal law on the establishment of cooperatives , but federal law does apply to cooperatives’ tax exemption s. With each of the 50 states having its own statutes on cooperatives, these add up to approx imately 85 in total .13 In many countries, cooperatives can have a legal status either as a c ooperative s ociety with limited or unlimited liability, as an economic interest grouping or as a joint -stock company. There are also diverging national requirements regarding members and capital stock. A minimum number of members is not always requ ired by law. Some countries have no mandatory provisions in this regard (e.g. Bulgaria, Denmark, Luxemb ourg), while others require the presence of at least three members (e. g. Germany, Sweden, USA) , and yet others require even more . For instance, Poland requires 10 natural persons or three legal entities to set up and run an agricultural cooperative, while Japan requires a minimum of 15 members. 14 Most countries have no mandat ory provision regarding the minimum capital stock for setting up a cooperative . Whenever the statutes requ ire a certain amount of capital stock, it is often less than •1 000. In certain countries , however, the minimum capital stock requirement is much high er. In Malta, for instance, it amounts to •100 000 for producer organisations in the agricultural sector. Cooperatives in the EU Member States and the European Economic Area (EEA) are subject to the provisions of the SCE Regulation, namely Council Regulation (EC) 1435/2003 of 22 July 2003 on the Statute for a European Cooperative Society. The SCE is a legal form of business organisation that does not replace national cooperative laws, nor is its application required when conducting (or reorganising) a business on a Community -wide scale. The SCE can be considered the 29th cooperative legal model in th e EU. Its main objective is to improve the legal environment for cross -border cooperative operations. The SCE set a legal precedent at EU level and has bec ome an important reference point for cooperatives engaged in cross -border activities.

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EPRS | European Parliamentary Research Service 6 Governance aspects In many countries, such as Bulgaria, Luxemb ourg, Hungary and the United Kingdom , national legislation does not set rules for the organisational structure of cooperatives. These aspects are often linked to market requirements. In general, there is either a one -tier or a two -tier -system. The one -tier -system is used by many smaller or traditional cooperatives, where elected members assum e executive roles in everyday management , and the decision -making is less complicated. More professionali sed and larger cooperatives with a higher level of capital intensity, however, apply the two -tier system by making use of an elected management board with a president and a director. The two -tier system is the most widespread organisational structure for larger cooperatives worldwide , and it is used in about 80 % of the EU ‘s Member States (see Annex). In general, cooperatives have two decision -making bodies (provided for by law or by the ir statutes) that deal with governance issues: the general assembly and the board of directors. In many cases, an additional board of supervisors or auditors is envisaged for control purposes. In some countries, such as Finland, a business inspector is appointed if the cooperative does not employ an independent auditor. In certain other countries, such as Germany, an advisory board i s not required if the cooperative has no more than 20 members. Different requirements also exist with regard to the general assembly: in Switzerland, for instance, cooperatives with at least 300 members elect delegates to represent them. 15 Most cooperatives apply the ‘one member, one vote’ principle in order to maintain equality among members and respect for democratic governance rules Œ both being key elements of a cooperative’s identity. However, certain countries, such as Sweden, Germany, Finland and , to some extent, Norway, provide for proportional representation. In other countries, such as the United States, patronage -based voting appli es. In a patronage -weighted voting system , voting power is based on the proportion of business done with the cooperativ e.16 Nevertheless, the concrete implementation of the ‘one member, one vote’ norm diverges from country to country. 17 In the Bulgarian and Cypriot cooperative laws, for instance, the ‘one member, one vote’ principle is a mandatory rule, and no exceptions are allowed. Some countries, such as Belgium and the Netherlands, do not set limits on cooperative statutes in their co operative laws, thereby allowing a certain degree of derogation. Other countries, such as Finland, France, Italy, Norway, Greece, Spain and Germany, permit derogations based on different criteria, such as the nature of the cooperative (e.g. housing coopera tives), the membership/ownership aspect (e.g. cooperatives among entrepreneurs), or the voting criteria (e.g. proportional vote model). Challenges faced by c ooperatives Cooperatives are facing challenges , in particular from globalisation, market pressure a nd non -binding international rules. International rules are becom ing more relevant , but the legal dimension of cooperatives has yet to be sufficiently explored from a comparative perspective. 18 European Cooperative Society (SCE ) A European Cooperative Society (in Latin societas cooperativa Europaea ) can be created , a) from scratch by five or more natural persons, by two or more legal entities, or by a combination of five or more natural persons a nd legal entities; b) by a merger of two or more existing cooperatives; or c) by the conversion of an existing cooperative that has, for at least two years, been established or been a subsidiary in another EU country. The minimum capital requirement is •30 000. An SCE can have a limited proportion of ‘investor members’. An SCE must be registered in the EU country where it has its head office. Voting in an SCE is generally conducted in accordance with the cooperative principle of ‘one member, one vote’. Howe ver, weighted voting may be allowed in certain circumstances to reflect the amount of business done with the SCE. An SCE must call a general meeting at least once a year. Decisions are taken by simple majority of members present or represented ; changes to the internal statutes require a two -thirds majority. However, the SCE model has not been as successful as expected , given that at present, only two dozen cooperatives have SCE status . Source: EUR-Lex, summaries of EU legislation .

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EPRS | European Parliamentary Research Service 8 In July 2018, the Commission adopted the EU multiann ual indicative programme for the ‘Civil society organisations and local authorities ‘ thematic programme for the 2018 to 2020 period. The document recognises cooperatives as relevant players in civil society, capable of implementing EU development projects in partner countries. The European Parliament has also participated in initiatives focusing on cooperatives. For instance, in 2012, the International Year of Cooperatives, Parliament representatives took part in a high -level conference alongside representatives of the Commission. The conference focused in part on actions to ensure wider recognition and int egration of the cooperative business model. Since 2012, Parliament has also adopted several resolutions on the social economy, in which it emphasises the importance of cooperatives and mutual societies. These include: – European Parliament resolution of 13 March 2012 on the Statute for a European Cooperative Society with regard to the involvement of employees, 2011/2116(INI); – European Parliament resolution of 2 July 2013 on the contribution of cooperatives to overcoming the crisis, 2012/2321(INI); and – European Parliament resolution of 10 September 2015 on social entrepreneurship and social innovation in combating unemployment, 2014/2236(INI). 19 Furthermore, in May 2017 the Parliament adopted its report on a European agenda for the collaborative economy (2017/2003(INI) ; rapporteur: Nicola Danti , Italy, S&D), in which it highlighted, among other things, the relevance of cooperatives for the collaborative economy. I n November 2017, the Parliament hosted a conference on the collaborativ e economy with the participation of a number of cooperatives as well as rapporteur Nicola Danti. At the event, several MEPs confirmed their interest in strengthening the cooperative -based collaborative economy in order to bridge the gap between social and economic innovation more effectively . In July 2018, the Parliament adopted an own -initiative re solution on a Statute for social and solidarity -based enterprises (rapporteur : Ji˛í Maıtálka , Czech Republic, GUE/NGL ).20 On the one hand, the re solution stresse s that the cooperative sector has proved particularly resilient to the economic and financial crisis , also point ing out that th e sector holds potential for social and technological innovation, inclusive job creation, and strengthen ed social, economic and regional cohesion. On the other hand, the re solution criticise s the diversity in the sector , reflected in the fact that most Member States have different rules regarding the organisational and legal form of social and solidarity -based enterprises. According to the resolution , ‘this diversity and the innovative character of certain of these legal forms indicate that it will be difficult to find co nsensus in Europe as to whether it is convenient or necessary at the present moment to set up at EU level a specific legal form of social enterprise ‘. Another EU initiative with an effect on cooperatives was the adoption in 2018 of the directive on unfair trading practices (UT Ps) in the food supply chain, which seeks to improve the role of farmers in the wider food supply chain , by banning some of the most common UTPs. In a similar vein, in December 2018 the Parliament and the Council reached a political agreement (rapporteur: Paolo De Cast ro, Italy, S&D) on a proposal laying out a new set of rules aimed at ensur ing the protection of EU farmers and a large majority of EU agri -food companies against UTPs .21 Outlook Cooperatives and mutual societies are important players in the social economy and in ( international ) development . On several occasions, the EU has underlined the ir increasing importance for sustainable development , local communities, and social inclusion . Cooperatives seek wider recognition and better integration of their business model . However, uncertainty remains, created by the impact of globalisation, div erging national competition laws and the unpredictable future of binding international rules. While many EU laws seem to be poorly adapted to the specific needs of cooperatives and to favour capital -based enterprises , t he

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Cooperatives: Characteristics, activities, status, challenges 9 collaborative economy would benefi t from an enabling European legal framework targeted at preserv ing and stimulat ing the emergence of innovative cooperative models . In doing so , the social economy would be better recognised as a key segment of the economy. Cooperatives would benefit from t he promotion of better targeted funding and from an entrepreneurship policy that takes into account the diversity of business models. Here again, a n appropriate regulatory framework would help to ensur e a level playing field. Creating a level playing field would put cooperatives in a better position to compete with investor -oriented firms without giv ing up their social and cultural orientation . Furthermore, small and emerging cooperatives expect more targeted help for capacity -building and organisational assistance, whereas larger cooperatives could use more EU – and national -level support for their professionalis ation aims. In this context, the S CE statute needs to be made more effective and applicable. Some experts , for instance, criticise cross border issues and the minimum capital requirement of •30 000 for SCEs (which seems to be an obstacle) as well as the complex bureaucratic procedures to be followed and the numerous references to national law. Finally, Parliament has asked the Commission to submit a legislative proposal on the creation of a standardise d European social economy label to help to strengthen the solidarity -based economy further . Transversal recognition of the cooperative business model across all EU policies, in particular in entrepreneurship and youth, as well as a better translation of legal principles into international or European law (whilst acknowledging the multiplicity of the cooperative business model and the specific national context s) might also be useful. MAIN REFERENCES AND FURTHER READING Cooperatives E urope, The power of cooperation Œ Cooperatives Europe key figures 2015 , Brussels, 2016. COGECA , Development of Agricultural Cooperati ves in the EU 2014 , 5 February 2015, Brussels. Czachorska -Jones B., Finkelstein J.G. , Samsami B., ‘United States ‘, in Fici et al. (eds.): International Handbook of Cooperative Law , p p. 759 -778. EURICSE (European Research Institute on Cooperativ e and Social Enterprises ) et al., Study on the implementation of the Regulation 1435/2003 on the Statute for European Cooperative Society (SCE) , 5 October 2010. Fici A., A European Statute for Social and Solidarity -Based Enterprise , Policy Department for Citizens ‘ Rights and Constitutional Affairs , European Parliament, F ebruary 2017 . Fici A., Cooperative identity and the law , EURICSE Working Paper, N o 023 | 12 . Fici A. , Cracogna D. , Henrÿ H. (eds.), International Handbook of Cooperative Law , Berlin/Heidelberg, Springer, 2013. Fjørtoft T . and Gjems -Onstad O., ‘Norway and Scandinavian Countries ‘, in Fici et al. (eds.): International Handbook of Cooperative Law , pp. 563 -583. Henrÿ H., Guidelines for Cooperative Legislation , third revised edition, ILO, Geneva, 2012. ICA (International Cooperative Alliance ) and EURICSE, World Cooperative Monitor, Exploring the Cooperative Economy , Report , 2018. Jakob D. , Huber R. , Rauber K., Nonprofit Law in Switzerland , The Johns Hopkins Comparative Nonprofit Sector Project , Working Paper No 47, March 2009. Kurimoto A., ‘Japan ‘, in: Fici et al . (eds.): International Handbook of Cooperative Law , pp. 503-523. Liger Q., Stefan M., Britton J., Social Economy , Policy Department for Economic and Scientific Policies , European Parliament, May 201 6. Mazzarol T. et al., A conceptual framework for research into co -operative enterprise , Centre fo r Entrepreneurial Management and Innovation (CEMI), Discussion Paper 1102. Thirion E., Statute for social and solidarity -based enterprises , EPRS, European Parliament, December 2017. Widuto A., EU support for social entrepreneurs , EPRS, European Parliament, March 2017.

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EPRS | European Parliamentary Research Service 10 ENDNOTES 1 The European Commission’s definition of cooperatives is quite similar. 2 For a theoretical overview, see also T. Mazzarol et al., A conceptual framework for research into co -operative enterprise , Centre for Entrepreneurial Management and Innovation (CEMI), Discussion Paper 1102. 3 In a mutual, generally speaking, members do not contribute to the capital of the company through direct investment, as in a cooperative, but derive their participation rights and profits through the customer relationship. 4 ICA and EURICSE, World Cooperative Monitor, Exploring the Cooperative Economy , Report 2018 , p. 8. 5 Ibid., p. 6. 6 This is an estimation since the figures of the World Cooperative Monitor Exploring the Cooperative Economy are depicted in US$. 7 ICA and EURICSE, World Cooperative Monitor, Exploring the Cooperative Economy , Report 2018, p. 72. 8 However, the figures of the European Commission diverge significantly from the Cooperatives Europe report. According to the Commission ‘s website on cooperatives , there are 250 000 cooperatives in the EU, owned by 163 million people and employing 5.4 million people . 9 Cooperatives Europe, The power of cooperation Œ Cooperatives Europe key figures 2015 , pp. 2 -3. 10 See A. Fici, Cooperative identity and the law , EUR ICSE Working Paper, N. 023 | 12, p. 5. 11 See articles by T. Fjørtoft and O. Gjems -Onstad (Norway); D. Jakob et al. (Switzerland); and A. Kurimoto (Japan), listed under ‘Main references’. 12 See A. Fici, Cooperative identity and the law , EURICSE Working Paper, N. 023 | 12, p. 6. 13 See B Czachorska -Jones et al., ‘United States ‘, p. 760; A. Kurimoto, ‘Japan ‘, p. 506. 14 See A. Kurimoto, ‘Japan ‘, p. 506. 15 D. Jakob , R. Huber and K. Rauber, Nonprofit Law in Switzerland , The Johns Hopkins Comparative Nonprofit Sector Project , Working Paper No 47, March 2009, p. 15. 16 See B. Czachorska -Jones et al., ‘United States ‘, p. 76 4. 17 On this topic, see Chapters 3 and 4 in A. Fici, Cooperative identity and the law , EURICSE Working Paper, N o 023 | 12. 18 The ICA -EU partnership aims in part to tackle th e shortcoming s in comparative legal research . 19 See also European Parliament resolution of 14 March 2013 with recommendations to the Commission on the Statute for a European mutual society, 2012/2039(INL); and European Parliament resolution of 2 July 2013 on the proposal for a Council regulation on the Statute for a European Foundation (FE), 2012/0022(APP) . 20 An own -initiative legislative report is an official request by the European Parliament to the Commission to put f orward a legislative proposal. It is based on the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and requires a special majority (Rule 46 of the Parliament’s Rules of Procedure). 21 The agreement will apply to anyone involved in the food supply chain with a turnover of •350 million, with differentiated levels of protection provided below that threshold. The new rules cover retailers, food processing entities (e.g. manufacturers of prepared food products ), wholesalers, cooperatives, producers’ organisations and single producers engaging in UTPs. The UTPs to be banned include: late payments for perishable food products; last -minute order cancellations; unilateral or retroactive changes to contracts; forcing the supplier to pay for wasted products; and refusin g written contracts. The Parliament is due to vote on the se rules during its plenary session in March 2019. DISCLAIMER AND COPYR IGHT This document is prepared for, and addressed to, the Members and staff of the European Parliament as background material to assist them in their parliamentary work. The content of the document is the sole responsibility of its author(s) and any opinions ex pressed herein should not be taken to represent an official position of the Parliament. Reproduction and translation for non -commercial purposes are authorised, provided the source is acknowledged and the European Parliament is given prior notice and sent a copy. © European Union, 2019 . Photo credits: © enotmaks / Fotolia. (contact) (intranet) (internet) (blog)

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