Legal frameworks and policies supporting cooperative and social enterprises

 This research area deals with two subjects that are interdependent and influence themselves reciprocally. Policies in favour of cooperative and social enterprises are, in fact, strongly affected by the legal context in which said forms of enterprise operate. Moreover, at the European level – as research conducted within this area has already shown – the regulation of cooperative and social enterprises is extremely varied. Only few European national jurisdictions present specific rules on social enterprises. While, as regards cooperatives, a great variety of regulatory approaches may be found in European countries. That may negatively affect the feasibility and effectiveness of European policies, which, on the other hand, would take advantage of a more uniform and homogenous legal framework.

On the basis of these premises, this research area aims to analyze and compare the regulation of cooperative and social enterprises in Europe, with regard both to substantial and organizational law, and to tax-, competition-, state aid-, public procurement-, or labour law, as well as to other fields of law where the specificity of these enterprises may assume a significant role.

In particular, this research area will direct its projects towards the following objectives:
  • the definition of the legal identity of cooperatives and social enterprises;
  • better regulation of cooperatives and social enterprises both at national and European level;

  • comparison of European regulations of cooperatives and social enterprises.

The methodological approach followed by this research area includes comparative law analysis, also through the establishment of networks of European legal scholars, and a closer link between theory and practice by a functional and economic analysis of the legal subjects and policies under examination.


Scientific coordinator

ANTONIO FICI is an Associate Professor of Private Law at the Law Department of the University of Molise in Italy. After the degree in law cum laude at the University of Rome “La Sapienza”, he earned his Ph.D. in Private Law from the University of Pisa. Subsequently, he was research fellow at the University of Urbino and at the University of California at Berkeley, and researcher in Private Law at the University of Rome “Tor Vergata”. Professor Fici is co-editor of the Journal of Entrepreneurial and Organizational Diversity (JEOD). His main fields of research are organizational law and contract law. Recent publications in English include: “Cooperatives and social enterprises: comparative and legal profiles”, in B. Roelants (ed.), Cooperatives and Social Enterprises. Governance and normative framework, CECOP, Brussels (2009); “Italian cooperative law reform and co-operative principles”, Euricse Working Paper, n. 02/09 (2009); “Executive Summary” and “Synthesis and Comparative Report”, in Study on the Implementation of the Regulation 1435/2003 on the Statute for European Cooperative Society – SCE (2010); “Cooperative identity and the law”, Euricse Working Paper, n. 23/12 (2012), forthcoming in European Business Law Review.

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Project List

Study Group on European Cooperative Law (SGECOL) and Principles of European Cooperative Law (PECOL)

SGECOL and PECOL mentioned in the ‘Blueprint for a Co-operative Decade’ - recently approved by the International Co-operative Alliance - as projects which help achieve the goal of ensuring supportive legal frameworks for co-operative growth.


News > Available in the “documents” section the first preliminary draft of  PECOL Chapter 1 - First Preliminary Draft (April 2013)


The Study Group on European Cooperative Law (SGECOL) is a group of cooperative law scholars from different European countries, whose first meeting was held in Trento, at EURICSE, on 29-30 November 2011.

SGECOL aims to conduct comparative research on cooperative law in Europe, thus promoting increased awareness and understanding of cooperative law within the legal, academic and governmental communities at national, European and international level.
SGECOL intends to achieve this objective through different research projects in the area of cooperative law, beginning with the drafting of Principles of European Cooperative Law (PECOL).

To learn more see : WP 24|12 New Study Group on European Cooperative Law: "Principles" project

International handbook of cooperative law

The International Handbook of Cooperative Law has just been published. This book represents a fundamental instrument for training and research, especially comparative, in the area of cooperative law. Legal scholars from 30 countries, spearheaded by co-editors Dante Cracogna, Antonio Fici and Hagen Henrÿ, jointly contributed to a unique book which presents and describes in the same context and in the same language their national cooperative laws, provides the reader with common concepts and terminology, and shows existing trends in cooperative law.


Publisher: Springer

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Support to comprehensive rural development in Montenegro, through rehabilitation of the cooperative system

The “Montenegro” project is part of the European Commission Programme IPA 2008 - supporting measures, which offers assistance to countries aspiring to join the European Union during the period 2007-2013. Assistance is provided on the basis of the European partnerships of the potential candidate countries and the Accession partnerships of the candidate countries, which means the Western Balkan countries and Turkey. The lead partner of the project is Cooperatives Europe; Euricse, COSV (Coordination Committee of Organizations for Voluntary Service), CECOP (European Confederation of Worker Cooperatives, Social Cooperatives and Social and Participative Enterprises), UCM (Union of Cooperatives Montenegro) and the Montenegrin Ministry of Agriculture are the other partners.