Learning lessons from European co-op development

“Co-operatives are a successful business model, innovative, resilient and effective in both the short and long term, capable of working at both small and large scale, appropriate for all sectors of economic activity, and the generator of millions of jobs worldwide.”

Indeed yes, although these are not my own words.  This is my best effort at translating some of the text on the website of the Cooperatives de Treball de Catalunya (the Catalan Federation of Workers Co-ops), which I’ve been browsing through with interest.  There are around 4000 co-ops in Catalunya, just under three-quarters of these being workers’ co-ops. And Cooperatives de Treball de Catalunya has reported an upsurge in interest in the co-op business model recently, with 2016 being the best year for co-operative growth for twenty years.

The Labour Party is making welcome noises about strong support for co-operative business when it is returned to power. We will need to ensure that this latent support is converted into real long-term achievement (learning the lessons of both the Tony Benn ‘phoenix’ co-ops of the 1970s and the work of co-operative development agencies in the 1980s).  My view is that there is much in mainland Europe to help us.  As well as looking at developments in Catalunya I’ve also been looking into what’s been happening in France – a subject for another blog shortly, I think.