Leading advocate for the mutual and cooperative sector, Mutuo, has this week launched new policy proposals to help make business work in the interests of ordinary citizens. The launch of the report The People’s Business: Framing the Progressive Narrative: A Mutual and Cooperative Approach to the Economy and Society took place at the Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS) office, Brussels (Belgium).
The People’s Business report, says Mutuo, seeks to put cooperatives and mutuals at the heart of business policy and calls on progressive politicians to support and champion these forms of business.
The report, says Mutuo, is a positive response to the disillusionment felt by so many people who feel that economic and political systems only work for the vested interests of capitalist business, the wealthy and the powerful.
Cooperatives and mutuals are the true people’s businesses says the report – they generate profits to share amongst their customers and workers in the form of dividends or lower prices. The report shows how the cooperative or mutual way of doing business benefits consumers, employees and European nations as a whole, providing diversity and choice in markets and sharing wealth more equitably.
The report shows that the people’s business is already hugely significant – across Europe there are 130,000 cooperatives and mutuals which account for 1.3 trillion Euros in income every year and provide work for nearly 5 million Europeans.
The Peoples’ Businesses already deal with some of the biggest political challenges faced by the world, the report says, by helping to create:
- An economy that prioritises people before other interests
- Policy ideas that counterbalance the effects of globalisation
- Businesses that challenge inequality and spread wealth
- Financial services in the interests of customers, not capital
- Work that is meaningful and rewarding
- Access to quality affordable housing
- Energy security through local control
Yet, the report says, the impact made by cooperatives and mutuals is uneven across the EU. Legislation, regulation and national policies often work to limit the opportunities for the people’s businesses to flourish.
The People’s Business report proposes a series of practical measures to increase the contribution of the People’s Business and help address some of these huge social and economic challenges. It offers, says Mutuo, a political vision for forward-thinking politicians seeking to re-connect with the people they wish to serve.
Working with colleagues from the Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS) the report launch represents the culmination of 18 months’ work which took Mutuo to all corners of the European Union to meet with sector experts, academics and policymakers. Mutuo examined powerful examples of where this approach to business benefits Europeans every day – for example through worker cooperatives in Spain and Italy or customer owned banks and insurers in France and food retailers and producers across Northern Europe.
Some of Europe’s best known and most enduring businesses are cooperatives and mutuals – their resilience and longevity is testament to their relevance to the people they serve – the customers and workers of Europe.
Both the International Cooperative and Mutual Insurance Federation (ICMIF) and the Association of Mutual Insurers and Insurance Cooperatives in Europe (AMICE) were delighted to contribute to the report.
Picture shows: Ernst Stetter, Secretary General, FEPS (left) and Peter Hunt, Managing Partner, Mutuo at the launch.