In the Europe there are more than 140 million people who have become members of cooperatives. European countries have experienced an expansion in the number of worker cooperatives. There are currently more than 83,000 cooperatives businesses in 42 European countries, well over double the number in 1980s. There are some regions in Europe that have, for the most part, a strong historical background of cooperativism such as the Emilia Romagna region in northern Italy and the Basque Country, with its Mondragon Cooperative. Both the Emilia Romagna and Mondragon cooperatives are networks of cooperatives that produce products and services including sales, finance, machinery, and universities. Favorable local government policies toward the cooperative movement are behind the recent growth of cooperatives in Europe. European cooperatives enjoy tax benefits and supportive legislation that spur their success as the driving force for economic development at the community level. Nevertheless, cooperatives also face several challenges, including just in time production methods, lack of union representation, and loss of solidarity among workers.
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** Horohito Norhatan is a graduate student at the Center who is interested in cooperatives and is sharing with us a series of articles on his favorite research topic, cooperatives, Horohito received his M.L.S. in political leadership and public services from Fort Hays State University. His research focuses on cooperative movement, economic democracy, political economics, and development policy. In his graduate thesis, “Cooperative Impacts on Poverty Eradication in Indonesia,” he investigated the impact that Indonesian cooperative organizations had in reducing the poverty rate, generating community wealth, and increasing the regional gross domestic product. Under the guidance of Dr. Xabier Irujo, Horohito is conducting research related to Basque cooperative organizations and their impact on the development of the Basque economy.