Approved a new law on cooperatives in Catalonia

The Catalan parliament approved last June the new Law on Cooperatives of Catalonia, which regulates, protects and promotes the cooperative movement, an exclusive competence of the Generalitat of Catalonia, the autonomous government of the region of Catalonia in Spain. The rule has exceeded the parliamentary process with 80% support of the deputies, completing a broad consensus already secured with the sector’s stakeholders. The new law creates a more flexible legal framework which offers alternatives for each cooperative to tailor its operations to become more competitive, while exercising its self-management.

Also, the new law seeks that the cooperative sector achieves a greater dimension, making this model more attractive for both entrepreneurs and consultants in entrepreneurship, so that more such organizations are created.

According to the proponents of the initiative, the norm aims to modernize the legal framework so that the cooperative corporate formula is strengthen as a  “tool for creating stable and quality employment , rooted to the territory, while simplifying and eliminating charges”.

The objectives and developments of the new law are set mainly in the following five points:

1) Encourage the creation of new cooperatives and consolidation of existing ones

At this point it is reduced from three to two the minimum number of partners to form a cooperative, except for users and consumers where the minimum is set in ten. It also promotes cooperatively business take-over.

2) Simplify and eliminate charges

To provide a more flexible and quick cooperative registration procedure.

3) Improving ways of financing cooperatives

To meet this objective the figure of temporary member has been introduced, which will help accommodate the needs, especially regarding employment, of the cooperative in the market. It will also allow collaborating partners to contribute with capital only.

4) Improve the business management of cooperatives

At this point the list of acts that, for legal reasons, have to go to approval of the General Assembly is lowered; It allows to attribute the bylaws to the Governing Board that until now belonged to the General Assembly, respecting the legal minimum; and the participation of non-members to the Governing Board to improve its professionalism

5) Achieve a greater dimensioning of the cooperative world

Second-degree cooperatives (the result of a partnership between cooperatives, with varying degrees of attachment) may be incorporated directly as individual business partners.

Current situation of cooperatives in Catalonia

Cooperatives are a business formula that has proven its resilience during the crisis years, with a better performance in terms of maintaining employment and also to the stability and quality of the employment generated.

Currently in Catalonia there are 4,195 cooperatives with 40,823 workers. 80% of work contracts with cooperatives are of indefinite duration. Employment in cooperatives has grown in the past two years by 3.7% in 2013 and 5.5% in 2014. Up to 15% of the Catalan population is linked to these companies: in addition to workers, there are 42,000 members in service cooperatives, 35,000 farmers linked to agricultural cooperatives and about one million people members of consumer cooperatives.

To promote this economic model, the government has made a firm commitment based on two axes: the new Law on Cooperatives and ARACOOP program.

The ARACOOP is a framework program of public-private partnership launched by the Department of Enterprise and Employment, with the participation of the Confederation and the federations of cooperatives and collaboration of more than 90 institutions in the territory, with the aim of renew, strengthen and expand the social and cooperative economy. In the edition of 2014 more than 6,500 people participated in the program. It is currently conducting the second edition.

Source: http://www.aciamericas.coop/El-Parlament-aprueba-la-nueva-Ley-de-Cooperativas-de-Cataluna (06/20/2015)