Statute for A European Cooperative Society
The European Union facilitates cooperatives wishing to engage in cross-border business, by making legislative provision which takes account of their specific features. It allows the creation of new cooperative enterprises of natural or legal persons at the European level. It ensures the rights of information, consultation and participation of employees in a European cooperative society (SCE).
European Cooperative Societies may be established, and may operate, throughout the European Economic Area (including the European Community). The legal form was created to remove the need for co-operatives to establish a subsidiary in each Member State in which they operate, and to allow them to move their registered office and head office freely from one Member State to another, keeping their legal identity and without having to register or wind up any legal persons. No matter where they are established, SCEs are governed by a single EEA-wide set of rules and principles which are supplemented by the laws on co-operatives in each Member State, and other areas of law.
The EU legislation falls within the territory of small-medium enterprise (SME) and a number of documents can be found on this EU SME website for cooperatives.
Implication for Existing European Cooperatives
Effectively this allows a single cooperative to function as a native entity in each of the European member states. The organization can use a single governance structure to aid the user/member/owners to manage affairs, together, across national boundaries.
This legislation originally passed into law in 2006. Until early 2010 only 4 SCEs had come into being. The EU legislation does not make the work of establishing such an organization easy; it simply permits such an organization to exist and to transact business.
The effect of this legislation is several when it comes to the opportunity for European cooperatives. In essence, any cooperative can be establish as an SCE by meeting a few criteria with regards to their registration of incorporation with the member state in which they are registered. by fulfilling the criteria.
Formation can take place-
- by foundation of a new cooperative, by five or more natural persons, by two or more legal entities or by a combination of five or more natural persons and legal entities;
- by a merger of two or more existing “national Cooperatives”; or
- by a conversion of an existing “national Cooperative”.
P2P - European Cooperative Society as a Commons Based Business Model
The European SCE creates new possibilities for cooperation within the European Economic Area (EEA). Nascent in the new potential for cooperation is an opportunity to discover groups of people with motives that can be aligned in a Commons-based fashion. It could be that in the near future we will see the SCE develop into the de-facto organizational form for this type of effort. Because of the fact that the SCE can cross national boundaries a new cooperative effort can launch with access to all the EU population simultaneously. If Commons-based efforts are created, the motivation to re-enclose, manage, or even claim commons can become a transnational, continental effort.
The concept of the Category:Commons is multi-dimensional. When we being to examine the possibilities provided by the SCE we can see several directions of potentials. For example it is possible that a worker owned cooperative that manages timber across the entire EU.
- Summary of SCE legislation
- EU SME website for cooperatives
- Cooperatives Europe: Presentation about the 'Vade-Mecum de la SCE' (French)
- European Commission DG Enterprise & Industry: Statute for a European Co-operative Society
- SCE Implementation study from Coops Europe
- SCE on Wikipedia
- Examples of SCE organizations