An Interantional seminar The cooperative enterprises between national taxation and European market was held in Trento, 11-12 September 2008 at the Faculty of Law of the Trento University (Room B), Via Verdi, 53.
The recent communication from the European Commission asking the Italian government for information regarding preferential tax regimes for cooperatives operating in the retail, distribution and banking sectors, and in particular its assertion that such regimes constitute state aid, has not only surprised the cooperative movement but also caused perplexity in the European scientific community.
The arguments put forward by the Commission's Competition Division have provoked numerous and significant reactions, and they have been contested on various grounds. Moreover, the issue of tax concessions for cooperatives does not concern Italy alone, because other procedures regarding diverse types of cooperatives in several European countries are currently pending before the European Commission.
The recently-founded EURICSE – European Research Institute on Cooperative and Social Enterprises – jointly with the European School of Advanced Fiscal Studies of the University of Bologna, the Faculty of Law of the University of Trento, and the Federazione Trentina della Cooperazione, consider that the moment has come for the European Commission's observations to be subject to systematic discussion which privileges scientific analysis and is therefore independent from the views of the organizations concerned. A further reason is that should the thrust of the Commission’s communication (that there are no differences among cooperative enterprises, not even in terms of size or sector) be accepted, it may deprive member-state governments of any possibility to grant fiscal benefits, not only to cooperatives, even of small size, but to every form of social enterprise or non-profit organization.
Hence derives the importance and timeliness of this discussion to define the role of taxation for cooperative enterprises, which cannot be directly likened to profit-making companies, not even on the logic of a European market.
More information and (soon) the videos of the conference is available from the euricse internet site
[11 september 2008]
of Avv. Giovanni Mameli