Ownership matters. Owners of businesses set the strategic direction, purpose and the terms of employment. Owners of land decide what should be done with it and who can access it. Owners of property decide how it is deployed and who can enjoy its benefits.
But increasingly, ownership is being concentrated in fewer hands, shifting ever more from shared ownership towards private corporations and individuals.
Government policy across the EU takes little or no account of the shifting nature of ownership. It is time to make sure that ownership works in the maximum public interest, serving citizens, customers and employees alike.
Who Owns Europe?, a new report from FEPS/Mutuo launched today, examines ownership across the European Union. It considers how Europe’s businesses are owned and where the benefits of business flow. It looks closely at different types of corporate ownership and the effect they have on fairness and equity.
The report makes a series of recommendations aimed at ensuring strong economies which benefit the wider public good and recommends that progressives should promote policies that:
- Encourage corporate diversity to ensure that businesses for public benefit are recognised in national constitutions or other supreme law
- Ensure that the remit of government business and enterprise departments includes all types of business, including mutually owned and public purpose enterprise
- Ensure that in all legislation, the role of and impact on different types of business forms are considered, rather than simply assuming one approach
- Seek to ensure in particular, that co-operative and other fields of organisational law merit equivalent attention
- Promote the appointment to ministerial and official posts, champions to represent different types of business
- Explore incentives for encouraging those setting up new businesses to choose a public benefit business
The report concludes that we can only prevent Europe being taken over by an idea – that of the pursuit of private gain – if we move away from an economy dominated by business for private profit to one for public benefit.