Innovate to make us (coops) visible, and be known and recognized

Cooperatives are at the vanguard of the democratization of the economy, with the Cooperative being the business model that most equitably distributes generated wealth and that created the fewest inequalities.

In the Basque Country we are world leaders in cooperativism, especially industrial, as witnessed by the thousands of visitors who come to learn about us every year. And that 6.7 out of every 10 adults is linked to the cooperative movement as a member of some activity sector (work, education, housing, credit, consumption, health, insurance, …).

We represent more than 15% of the total exports of the Basque Country. We invest close to 20% of total investment of the Basque Country. And we have almost a quarter of the total number of patents registered in Euskadi.

The Basque Cooperative Movement is present in various entities for Inter-cooperation such as Elkargi S.G.R., and CSCE – Higher Council of Cooperatives of Euskadi, among others. It has institutional representation in the CES – Basque Economic and Social Council, and in the Basque Councils of Social Services, Industrial Safety, Social Welfare, Social Inclusion, Addictions, Internationalization, and Family. And we also participate in Osalan – Basque Institute of Occupational Health and Safety -, in Eustat – Basque Institute of Statistics – and in Kontsumobide – Basque Institute of Consumption. In addition to Innobasque, and in the Forum for the Integration and Participation of Immigrants of the Basque Country.

At Social Economy we are part of EGES – Social Economy Network of Euskadi-, of ETESS – Cross-Border School of Social Economy-, of CEPES – Spanish Business Confederation of Social Economy-, of Cooperatives Europe, and of the ICA – International Cooperative Alliance-

In 2017, important advances are being made in our institutional presence. In the Basque Parliament two Draft Laws are being worked on for our incorporation into the SPRI (Basque business development agency), and into the Schools Council. And recently we have been made members of the Basque Council of Science, Technology and Innovation, representing the sectors and companies that drive private investment in R & D.

Even so, in spite of the important weight of the Cooperatives in the economy of the Basque Country and even despite having the leading Basque Business Group (Mondragon Corporation), today we still do not participate at times in the phases of study and proposition of new Laws, Decrees, Norms, Policies or Plans in areas in which we are affected. And here we must innovate, we must work in different ways to achieve greater visibility and greater recognition. Not reaching expected and desired goals has a lot to do with oneself, and different strategies are needed and we must work with different points of view and ways of approaching the topic to find alternatives that allow the desired objective to be reached.

And there is still a demand to be met, already historic at this point – our presence in Lanbide, the Basque Employment Service. Lanbide manages Employment Schemes and Training for Employment, in which the Cooperatives have much to do and contribute. We have the moral and legal conviction that we have the right to participate in the Board of Directors of Lanbide. In addition to that moral and legal conviction that underpins our right, there is our commitment to society. Not only do we have the right to participate, but we also want to participate in those areas of decision-making and consultation which, one way or another, involve the interests of cooperativism, the interests of cooperative enterprises, the interests of cooperative members, and Lanbide is a clear example of this commitment. Both due the allocation of the decisions adopted there for our socio-business situation and our capacity to contribute based on our knowledge and our experience in subjects relating both to employment and training. To confirm and reinforce our position we have a recent legal study conducted jointly by the Universities of the Basque Country, which concludes that “In short, based on the positive law analysed, we judge that Konfekoop has the right to institutional participation in the Board of Directors of Lanbide, in representation of the business interests of cooperative employment”.

Being there, in addition to simply being. We are motivated by determination and commitment: Determination to remain a force for wealth creation in this country; and commitment to people who believe in a different economic model. Our destiny should not be to contemplate, but to transform. And we therefore have to participate in institutional life. We do not ask for more than we can offer, we want to participate in proportion to our significance, with our know-how, in collaboration and cooperation with other agents involved. Because this is about building a better Euskadi, a more cohesive and, if possible, a better self-managed society.

Javier Goienetxea
ERKIDE President
Basque Worker, Teaching, Consumer and Banking Cooperatives Federation

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