International Day of Cooperatives, 1st July 2017

International Day of Cooperatives, 1st July 2017

(ICA message at the specific section)

The International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) since 1923, and the United Nations since 1995 have celebrated the International Day of Cooperatives the first Saturday in July, to increase awareness on the importance of cooperatives and to strengthen associations among the cooperative movement and other participants, including governments. This year the day was celebrated under the theme “Cooperatives ensure no one is left behind” with the aim of stressing social integration.

The Basque Minister for Work and Justice, Maria Jesus San Jose, today ratified the commitment adopted by the Basque Government to contribute to increasing cooperative employment in the Basque Country given the “positive and differentially qualitative nature” of cooperatives, which constitute an “international benchmark” in the Region. “Cooperativism is a fundamental sector which we want to promote” she affirmed.

María Jesús San José extolled the commitment of the Executive to the Social Economy in a press conference on the occasion of the International Day of Cooperatives, held on Saturday 1st July, and in which the president of Mondragon Corporation, Iñigo Ucín, and the president of the Basque Cooperatives Confederation Konfekoop, Rosa Lavín participated. The press conference took place in Donostia-San Sebastian, given that Gipuzkoa is the “cradle of Basque cooperativism and bulwark of cooperativism throughout Spain and the European Union”.

The figures highlight the transcendence of cooperativism in the Basque Country, which employs 56,380 people in 6.5% of the productive fabric throughout the Basque Country. Its value lies in the “strength” which it continues to have in an unfavourable context and in this respect, the Minister highlighted that the destruction of jobs in cooperatives during the economic crisis has been six points less in terms of Social Security registration than other enterprises.

During her talk, Maria Jesus San Jose underlined the principles associated with cooperatives, which award “the person and the social objective above capital”, with a “democratic business governance and strong territorial anchorage” which seeks “to satisfy the needs of people”. Furthermore, within their values, she highlighted their “solidarity and responsibility”, their “autonomy of management and independence with regard to public powers”, their guarantee in the “redistribution of the wealth generated” for their members and society overall, and their commitment to maintaining dignified and qualitative employment. “Cooperatives represent a characteristic feature of the Basque Country and are an international benchmark while also being expert ambassadors of our Autonomous Region”, she commented.

The Minister for Work and Justice expressed the Department’s commitment to present the legislative Bill in the Basque Parliament, in the second quarter of 2018, which aims “to establish legal security for cooperatives facilitating the internal organisational regime”. The text, she emphasised, will emerge from consensus in the sector.

The commitment of the Basque Government to social economy is reflected in the increased amount assigned for this year to the Management of Social Economy, which will administer six lines of support in the sector with a budget of €3,687,719. She stressed the increase of €572,000 in aid to entrepreneurship and planned territorial promotion, which disposes of €1,941,052 to facilitate the setting up of Social Economy companies.

Finally, Maria Jesus San Jose alerted of the need to “create quality employment” and “reduce the increase in inequality”, questions which constitute a priority for the Department of Work and Justice. These two characteristics, as underscored, are accomplished in the world of cooperatives.


In his talk, the president of Mondragon Corporation, Iñigo Ucín, highlighted the “level of contribution of cooperatives to the economic development of the environments where they are set up”. According to him, it is “demonstrated” that centred around cooperatives are enterprises “with a much more homogeneous distribution of income” which contributes to “equality”, one of the “great challenges” of society in the 21st century. Similarly, he highlighted the value of their “democratic business model” which “revolves around people” who participate in a “real” way in the ownership, management and results of the enterprise. “It is time to proclaim, humbly but with conviction, that cooperatives are agents of development of society”, he affirmed.

Iñigo Ucin opted for “activating the current experience” of cooperative values, namely participation, social responsibility, cooperation or innovation, while granting “special prominence” to “rigorousness and joint responsibility” to “reinforce our cooperative experience”. He defended the need to “boost inter-cooperation”, not only between cooperatives but with other entities and agents, as “in a global environment collaboration is more necessary than ever”. “The market has expanded and if we want to take advantage of the great opportunities it offers us, we need to strengthen the capacity of business inter-cooperation” he commented.

The president of the Basque cooperative group ratified the commitment to employment and integration, although he did warn of the need to “focus our efforts on efficiency, productivity and the capacity to compete with the best in a global scenario”. Because, as he stressed, “only through competitiveness will we achieve profitable and sustainable businesses in time”. “That is the best way to protect and guarantee our future” he concluded.


The president of Konfekoop, Rosa Lavín, insisted on this aspect, stating that cooperatives “must visualise with deeds how our values have cushioned the multiple impacts of the crisis”, which “has encouraged” advancement on salary gap. “The Responsibility of cooperatives transcends the entrepreneurial framework, impacting on what is collective in society. Hence inclusion, although not a value as such, is a good indicator of the practice of cooperative values and principles”, upholds Lavín, without overlooking the central role which they play in favour of including social initiative cooperatives which “at the present time are a reality moving forward in the social sector”.

On the occasion of the International day of Cooperatives, the president of Konfekoop, one of the “most representative” associations in the Basque Country, made a “very positive” assessment of the 2016 end of year data. The number of federate cooperatives is 1,110 having recorded an increase of 5% on 2015. International sales make up 65% of the turnover and the contribution to GDP is at 6%. In terms of gender, 52% of jobs are occupied by women and 48% by men.

With a view to 2017 Konfekoop has set as milestones “to continue disseminating and promoting the cooperative model” in order to “spread in creating a greater number of cooperatives and finally stable and quality employment” and in “increasing the presence in diverse fields of consultation and decision” linked to employment, the economy, education and at a social level in the Basque Country, in the same line as expressed by the Minister for Work and Justice.

Konfekoop, Basque Cooperatives Confederation, includes all the Federations of Cooperatives in the Basque Country existing in various cooperative sectors (Worker-ownership, Education, Agricultural, Consumer, Transport and Banking) which, in turn, affiliate between 90% and 95% of the members, the volume of operations and employment of all the Cooperatives in the Basque Country.

The most important data or figures as of 31 December 2016 are as follows:


The number of Federated Cooperatives comes to 1.110
Per type of Cooperative:
Worker-ownership 949
Education 82
Agricultural 64
Consumer 8
Transport 6
Banking 1
Per territoriess:
Araba 171
Bizkaia 479
Gipuzkoa 460
Per productive sector:
Primary or direct product 17
Secundary or transformation 448
Third or services 645
Total Members 1.173.837
Farmers 9.955
Worker-owners 33.812
Consumers 1.070.413
Credit 10.484
Parents 49.173
Total Workers 53.496
Working members 33.812
Non member workers 19.684
Men 25.571
Women 27.925
Turnover 9.182₁ €
Internationalisation 4.628₁ €


* Details are taken exclusively from the Cooperatives incorporated in their respective sectorial Federations.
* Data gathered correspond to the Cooperatives in Basque Country.


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