On the occasion of the International Day of Co-operatives 2021, the Task Force on co-operative affairs of the European Association of Co-operative Banks (EACB) published a report on membership and governance in co-operative banks. The main findings were presented and discussed during an EACB Apropos Coop Banking webinar today.
During the event, Prof. Dr. Hans Groeneveld, co-author of the report and chair of the Task Force, stated:
“I hope that this report contributes to a better understanding among policy makers and academics about the paramount importance of preserving and respecting members' statutory rights and responsibilities in the governance of co-operative banks for a healthy and diverse European banking system.”
Along with Prof. Dr. Hans Groeneveld, the panelists discussed the results of a survey conducted among 16 co-operative banks on two aspects; the formal features of membership and the statutory roles and responsibilities of members in the co-operative governance. Guest speakers joining the panel at this special occasion were Prof. Eric Lamarque from the Sorbonne University, Anna Athanasopoulou, Head of Unit at DG Grow (European Commission), and Sven Giegold, Member of the European Parliament, with EACB CEO Nina Schindler as moderator.
The report stresses the possibility for customers as users to become members and act as owners of co-operative banks. The active engagement of members in the governance and in the strategic direction of co-operative banks represents a unique characteristic. This differs from listed banks, where the owners (i.e.shareholders) are often not customers at the same time.
As varieties among the analysed co-operative banks, the survey points out the organisational and governance structures, the scope and depth of the statutory roles and responsibilities of member representatives at various levels within co-operative banking groups, the vibrancy of member involvement and interaction with their local and/or regional co-operative bank, and the monetary and immaterial advantages enjoyed by members.
Throughout the discussion, panelists underlined the importance and value of membership in a co-operative and positive effects of an engagement of member/customers in the governance of their banks.
Download the study here.