Pellervo’s EU Manifesto – Cooperatives are builders of a sustainable future

Themes for the 2024 EU elections

  1. Cooperatives to be taken into account in business regulation. Relying on national implementation creates inequality.
  1. A cooperative provides a fair foundation for social and platform economies. Innovative collaborative entrepreneurship should be directed towards the cooperative form.
  2. The cooperative model facilitates the reconstruction of Ukraine. Alongside financing, active participation is needed.
  3. Cooperatives strengthen the private sector in EU external development projects. The cooperative model must be acknowledged in investment plans.
  4. Cooperative awareness must be strengthened in the EU Parliament. A new beginning for the Cooperative Network is important.

Pellervo EU Manifesto short version.

Europe is the most cooperative continent in the world

Cooperatives are not on the margins. In Europe, there are over 250 000 cooperatives with 163 million members and they employ 5,4 million people. Cooperatives range from micro-enterprises to large corporations, operating in all sectors of the economy, from industry to commerce and services, healthcare to housing, agriculture to banking, and energy to culture.

Cooperatives are builders of a sustainable future

Cooperatives meet the needs of both society and their members. They can provide collective solutions to current and future challenges, promoting social cohesion, sustainable growth, and development at both local and European levels, as well as globally.

Cooperatives play a crucial role in building and sustaining the well-being of citizens and the vitality of regions. They create jobs and offer their members the opportunity to receive support for their business activities from the community. Fundamentally, cooperatives are committed to long-term operations, maintaining stability and sustainability in their areas of operation, and are significant investors in their regions.

The goal of EU cohesion policy is to reduce disparities between regions and create conditions for well-being for those less advantaged.

Finland's sparse population and persistent special challenges must be considered in regional development funding. The level of basic funding and special support for sparsely populated northern areas of Finland must be secured. Special attention must be given to the EU's eastern border development, along with a new EU Eastern External Border Recovery and Development Fund that ensures the security of the entire EU.

Funding should also be directed towards securing the vitality and infrastructure of rural areas, complementing the measures of the rural program.

A strong and unified European Union is in the interest of cooperative

Although cooperatives are strongly local, the EU is crucial for cooperatives.

The EU was originally built to promote peace and stability in Europe. The role of the EU as a guarantor of peace and security has become more prominent due to Russia's aggression in Ukraine. The wartime situation has prompted actions in Europe to ensure energy self-sufficiency, the production of critical raw materials, and the functionality of production chains. The EU also plays a vital role as a guarantor of security and a bridge-builder in the global context.

The EU's single market has created an economic area that promotes trade, investment, and economic growth, benefiting both businesses and consumers. Additionally, a strong and unified EU is better positioned to compete in global markets.

The EU provides an impactful collaborative opportunity to address common major challenges, such as climate change, immigration, economic growth, and data protection in the era of digitization.

The EU must enhance its decision-making capacity, operational efficiency, and unity. Continuous and constructive dialogue between member states and EU institutions is crucial for building the future of Europe.

However, a strong and unified EU does not imply diminishing the decision-making authority of member states. When creating norms, the EU must consider the diverse conditions of its member countries.

Functioning internal market benefits Finns and businesses

The four freedoms of the EU, namely the free movement of people, goods, services, and capital, have strengthened the well-being of citizens and the competitiveness of European businesses.

Efficiently functioning EU internal markets form the basis for growth and economic stability in Europe. The internal market of nearly 500 million people serves as the domestic market for Finnish businesses. It is also crucial for companies that do not engage in direct exports to other EU countries but are part of the European supply chain.

It must be ensured that there are fair competition conditions within the internal market and that products and services can move across national borders.

The guiding principle of decision-making: common-sense regulation

The EU must focus on matters that bring European added value. The Union should adhere to the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality, meaning decisions are made as close to citizens as possible. The guiding principle for the next Commission's work program should be common-sense regulation.

The EU's role is not to be a factory for directives and regulations that generate detailed rules impacting the activities of individuals and businesses. The EU should be big on big issues and small on small issues.

The consequences of overregulation may hinder growth, innovation, and employment in Europe. Attention must be paid to ensure that increasing regulations in agriculture, forestry, and the financial sector do not bring about adverse effects.

Regulation must take into account the specific characteristics of member states, such as Finland's sparse population and persistent unique challenges. Forest policy is an example of matters that should fall under national jurisdiction, not the EU's. A possible uniform regulation for the entire EU would not consider the specific characteristics of individual countries. Decision-making should be based on researched scientific knowledge.

In line with the EU Green Deal, competitiveness is built on sustainable production, labor, and economic growth. Europe must build an ecologically sustainable economy that includes all stakeholders in society.

Tax collection and decisions on their allocation fall under the competence of member states. The EU's role is to oversee unified norms aimed at combating tax evasion and double taxation, ensuring that taxation does not distort competition in the internal market. If during the term of the next Commission there is a discussion about a more uniform taxation system or changing the role of the EU, the effects of the desired changes must be carefully evaluated.

European values

Europe is built on the foundation of democracy, equality, and human rights, and these values must be defended. Pellervo supports a Europe based on these cooperative values , which are human-centric and places citizens at the participatory core of its activities. The EU should respect diversity and refuse to turn inward.

Themes in more detail

Pellervo Coop Center has always been at the forefront of advocating for business interests, striving to promote the position of cooperatives and community-based businesses in Finland and Europe, while strengthening knowledge on cooperatives and their role in addressing societal challenges.

1. Cooperatives and their unique characteristics should be taken into account in business regulation

EU entrepreneurship policy must promote the diversity of business models and take into account the distinctive features of cooperatives. The regulation of cooperatives should be fair and equal alongside other business models.

Cooperatives are often not within the scope of EU business regulations, but in national implementations, cooperatives in many member countries may be included in national legislation, resulting in different treatment of cooperatives in different EU countries. If the application of legislative projects affecting companies is left to national implementation, it can distort competition among cooperatives in different countries.

2. Utilizing cooperatives as a model to implement social economy and platform economy

Social economy actors have become increasingly relevant as new ways are sought to create well-being, human-centered and impactful services, and to develop responsible business practices. The EU has paid attention to the opportunities of social economy in Europe.

Social economy organizations prioritize societal goals by, for example, investing the majority of their income to promote their mission. To implement social economy, a cooperative is a good and practically tested model for collaborative entrepreneurship and collective organization. Social responsibility and the promotion of societal goals are inherent in the cooperative business model.

A platform cooperative provides an alternative model in platform economy. It can address some limitations of traditional platforms as cooperatives are based on shared ownership and democratic decision-making.

In the EU, platform cooperatives should be promoted as alternative models to traditional platforms by increasing their visibility and recognition in local communities and strengthening them as local development facilitators. This can be achieved by facilitating local experimentation and strategic partnerships.

Platform cooperatives contribute to local development through their actions. They operate sustainably at the grassroots level, promoting local development. They advocate for workers' rights while prioritizing user privacy by placing the interests of their members and the community at the forefront of their business models and operations.

Both social and platform economy would benefit from European legislation that guides innovative collaborative efforts towards the cooperative model. It would also promote the emergence of new business opportunities, cost savings, and strengthen community bonds.

3. The power of cooperatives in the reconstruction of Ukraine

The reconstruction of Ukraine after the war requires significant financial efforts. The EU is already helping to strengthen Ukraine's resilience, but additional support will be needed to ensure the foundation of the country and the lives of its citizens are in order.

In addition to funding, operational models are needed. The cooperative model is one tool for fostering people's productivity and rebuilding their local areas. Encouraging the sharing of best practices is crucial.

4. Cooperatives as enablers in EU external development projects

Development policy is part of the EU's common foreign and security policy. Its goal is to promote human rights, democracy, and good governance.

The cooperative model should be utilized to strengthen the local private sector. Cooperatives should be recognized in the EU's external investment plans.

Through development projects, women's status can be improved by providing employment opportunities

5. A new beginning for the Cooperative Network in the Parliament

Cooperative awareness must be strengthened in the EU Parliament through an active and robust cooperative network. European cooperative organizations and Pellervo's Brussels office, in collaboration with parliamentary groups, should establish a functional cooperative network within the parliament.


Cooperative businesses

Cooperative enterprises are owned and managed by their members - whether the members are consumers, producers, entrepreneurs, employees, or local communities.


  • In Europe, there are 250 000 cooperatives employing 5,4 million people.
  • In Finland, there are 3 500 cooperatives employing 100 000 people with a turnover of 38 billion euros.
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