In the framework of the 6th Social Entrepreneurship Forum implemented in Athens on the 29th and 30th of November 2019, a special workshop was organized dedicated to the Unification of Cooperative Legislation in Greece. This workshop highlighted that the existing manifold cooperative laws and the frequent changes in Greek cooperative legislation hinder the development of a unified cooperative sector, cooperation among cooperatives, the unified statistical monitoring of the sector and the drafting of coherent public policies. Workshop participants decided to create a working group in order to map the problems stemming out of the legislative fragmentation, to draft a framework cooperative law, to submit this proposal for co-construction with relevant stakeholders from the cooperative sector and to examine the feasibility of an independent monitoring agency for cooperative legislation in Greece. The ultimate goal of the proposed framework law is to contribute towards the consolidation of a unified cooperative sector based on commonly agreed values and principles regardless of diverse types and organizational needs.
The Ministry of Agricultural Development and Food submitted to public consultation a draft law on agricultural cooperatives on 27.12.2019 with an expiry date for the submission of valid comments the 14th of January 2020. Despite, the time constraints, the members of the working group managed to agree on the main tenets of a collective intervention in the public consultation. The specific comments made are included in the attached report (available only in Greek),
Contrary to the relatively stable legislation concerning commercial and capital stock companies in Greece, cooperative legislation is fragmented as a result of rudimentary law-making leading to a universe of frequently changing and diverse cooperative laws.
This law making tradition does not serve the particular needs of different types of cooperatives but reflects the institutional fragmentation with different ministries and supervisory bodies per organizational type. This institutional fragmentation is in turn reflected in the field and hinders the development of a unified sector and cooperation among cooperatives of different types. In addition, frequent changes of particular cooperative laws with notable example the case of agricultural cooperatives creates an unstable institutional environment where agricultural cooperatives cannot flourish, develop synergies among them and with other types of cooperative despite trends in the opposite direction at the international level.
Hence, our position and goal is the need for a unified cooperative legislation in Greece and not the continuation of piece meal changes in the cooperative laws of various types. We therefore submit our proposals with two caveats in mind: a) the need for at least a harmonization of cooperative legislation among the various types of cooperatives and b) the need to preserve the particular cooperative identity as this has been consolidated in the Statement on the Co-operative Identity by the International Co-operative Alliance in 1995.
As such, our general remark for the specific draft law is that it favors the funding and control of agricultural cooperatives by private for profit interests without addressing the major problems which agricultural cooperatives are facing in Greece:
- Lack of transparency in decision-making
- Lack of economic viability due to limited cooperation among members and realization of their productive potential
- Red tape in the establishment and everyday function
- Limited innovation, access to markets and connection with a coherent agricultural policy
- Lack of motivation for the inclusion of young persons with skill and expertise
- Dependency on private for profit interests in the framework of augmented debts and increased vulnerability.
The attached report includes all the specific comments per article of the draft law (available only in Greek).