Comparative analysis of legal regulations for cooperative and social enterprises at a European and international level

Research Area: Legal framework
Scientific coordinator: Antonio Fici

Project status: on-going

Since 2011 the Study Group on European Cooperative Law (SGECOL), a group of cooperative law scholars from different European countries, has been researching cooperative law in Europe, promoting increased knowledge and understanding of this specific discipline in the legal, academic and governmental fields at a national, European and international level.

The research carried out over the past few years by Euricse has highlighted the presence of regulations with significant differences between them and a lack of coherence between these regulations and the nature of cooperative and social enterprises.


This is why the research project wants to:

  • identify the essential characteristics of cooperative enterprises for legislative purposes and critically evaluate the different existing legislation, with particular attention paid to the effects on these enterprises;
  • identify the elements needed for comprehensive regulations that could subsequently be made available both to countries planning to revise their laws and countries that do not yet have specific laws for cooperative and social enterprises.

As the project deals with different types of enterprise and regulatory models, it is moving forward in parallel with a study on cooperatives and a study on social enterprises.

In regards to the study on cooperatives, the project aims to develop a theoretical reflection on European law for cooperative businesses, promoting increased knowledge and understanding of this specific discipline in the legal, academic and governmental fields.

Simultaneously, the project will develop a comparative analysis of legislation about social enterprises, with the aim of identifying the common traits of the different existing legislation at a European level applicable to this type of business.

Main results

The International Handbook of Cooperative Law has been published in January 2014. The volume is composed of 38 chapters, divided in 4 parts and it is intended to become a new instrument for the research on Cooperative Law, especially for comparative purposes. Besides the publication of the Handbook, the study allowed for the construction of a  research  network, extended at international level.

The SGECOL has been working, since 2011, on the drafting of Principles of European Cooperative Law (PECOL). The draft Principles of European Cooperative Law has been presented and discussed during the seminar “Cooperative law: the importance of a regulatory framework at the EU level” which was held on Tuesday 9th of June 2015, in Brussels. Many researchers showed their interest for the activities of the group, which in fact has increased its network. In particular, two new associated members, from Italy and from Israel, have been admitted recently.

Download here the Draft Principles of European Cooperativie Law.


Fajardo G., Fici A., Henrÿ H., Hiez D., Münkner H.-H., Snaith I. (2012), “New Study Group on European Cooperative Law: “Principles” Project”, Euricse Working Paper, N. 024 | 12.

Cracogna D., Fici, A., Hagen, H., (2013), International handbook of cooperative Law, Springer,Berlin-Heidelberg.

Fici A. (2013), “Pan-European cooperative law: Where do we stand?”, Euricse Working Paper, n. 47/13. Disponibile anche in spagnolo: Derecho cooperativo pan-europeo: ¿Dónde estamos?

Fici A. (2013), “Cooperative Identity and the Law”, in European Business Law Review, 2013, pp. 37-64.


SGECOL (Study Group on European Cooperative Law)



Universidad de Valencia
University of Helsinki
Marburg University
University of Leicester
Università del Lussemburgo
Instituto Politécnico do Porto