Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Co-ops under threat by Big Business EU

The European Commission, prompted by private enterprises, is considering changing tax laws for all co-ops. This is a serious threat to the co-operative movement across Europe.

Co-operatives Europe states that private business has complained that laws recognising co-operatives in individual nation states give co-ops "privileged tax status" and "preferential tax regimes" and "are disguises for State Aid". Twenty-five of the EU's 27 member states have legislation recognising co-ops.

Please support the petition to defend the co-operative model.

Private companies in France, Italy, and Spain, want the European Commission to change the national tax rules for co-operatives. With these changes, they could reduce competition and steal the co-ops' business.

A co-operative's tax liabilities are calculated after the payment of dividend to its members. Currently the law recognises that co-op dividends are entirely different to company dividends. The spirit of their distribution is one of thanks, and recognition of its members' efforts; returning money that they have spent on the society.

If this were found to be uncompetitive, more than 250,000 co-op enterprises, employing 2.3 million people across Europe would be placed under heavy financial strain.

European co-operatives have bonded together to fight these accusations, and ask for your help. They do not want special privileges, only the right to exist, under a model that recognises their distinct and important role in the social economy.

As the Vivian Woodell, Chief Executive of the Phone Co-op states "Let's do all we can to prevent the attempts of private share-holding companies to reduce consumer choice, and end the ethical challenge of the co-operative market.

"Let's force them to realise the unique relationship of co-operatives with their members will ensure that their claims are dismissed!"

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