In the European Union and in large regions of America, cooperatives, with associations, foundations and mutual funds are considered parts of the social economy. The International Cooperative Alliance, established in 1895, is considered to be the final authority for defining cooperatives and the principles by which they operate. The organization has made three formal statements of cooperative principles over the past 100 years in an effort to keep them relevant to the contemporary world. At its 100th anniversary meeting in September, 1995 in Manchester, England, the Alliance adopted the "Statement of Cooperative Identity." which made the definition, values and principles of cooperatives.
Definition: cooperative is an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically controlled enterprise.
Values are based on the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity, and solidarity. In the tradition of their founders, cooperative members believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility, and caring for others.
Principles: Voluntary and Open Membership, Democratic Member Control, Member Economic Participation, Autonomy and Independence, Education, Training and ...