EESC Recognition for Consumer Co-ops Towards an EU Strategy on Sustainable Consumption
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) adopted an own-initiative Opinion: “Towards an EU strategy on sustainable consumption”, on 17 September 2020, in which consumer co-operatives are recognised as key actors in educating consumers and raising awareness towards healthier and more sustainable consumption. The document was prepared within the NAT Section - Agriculture, Rural Development and the Environment, with rapporteur Peter Schmidt (Group II), President of the Sustainable Development Observatory.
The document - which calls for a comprehensive European policy for sustainable consumption, covering pressing issues such as nutrition, mobility, housing, and lifestyles, as part of the European Green Deal and as a complement to the Circular Economy Package - explicitly references the positive role of consumer co-operatives in attaining sustainable consumption goals.
More importantly, in the context of post-COVID recovery, the EESC calls for closer co-operation with the Commission, the Parliament and Member-States on developing a substantial and coordinated program of integrated policies that will help Europe "build back better" and create the conditions for a comprehensive EU strategy for sustainable consumption. The Committee rightfully states, that without such harmonisation across the legislative process, the current silo approach of decision-making will continue to the detriment of achieving the set goals.
Below are extracts of the texts on Co-operatives and consumer co-operatives from within the Opinion:
4.13 - Retail can also play an important role in fostering sustainable consumption by nudging consumers towards healthier and more sustainable choices. Within this sector, the consumer co-operative business model is particularly worth noting because of its specific entrepreneurial form, which puts the figure of the consumer-member at the core of its business and democratic governance structure.
4.14 - An EU strategy should include initiatives to ensure transparent and reliable information flows to support sustainable consumption, making use of the opportunities created by new and emerging digital solutions. This could also support companies who are willing to innovate but currently lack metrics and data to allow for a reliable assessment of the ecological and social impacts of everyday consumption. SMEs, start-ups and cooperatives, which are essential innovators and pilot platforms, are facing this challenge in particular.
5.3.4. - Development cooperation policies supporting small-scale farming, SMEs, and consumer cooperatives.
5.4.4. - Education. Proposals should be put forward to incorporate education on sustainable consumption into school curricula from an early age and to encourage private-sector education initiatives (e.g. those promoted by consumer cooperatives), to foster citizen engagement and cultural change.
This is a breakthrough achievement for consumer co-operatives as to be explicitly featured in an EU Opinion gives way to further recognition for our model of enterprise within the EU policy process and facilitates further Euro Coop’s efforts in partnering with the EU Institutions by providing know-how and expertise for achieving the green transition.
Download the document here.