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Title: Who Owns Europe?... and why it matters for Progressives
Author(s): Mills, Cliff
Kippin, Sean
Hunt, Peter
Willetts, Mark
Issue Date: 2020
Date Deposited: 18-Oct-2021
Citation: Mills C, Kippin S, Hunt P & Willetts M (2020) Who Owns Europe?... and why it matters for Progressives. Foundation for European Progressive Studies. Brussels.
Abstract: First paragraph: Ownership matters. Owners of businesses set their 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. These decisions have a profound impact on the rest of European economy and society. Too often when we try to understand who owns the assets on which we all rely, the beneficial owners are obscured, and capital is controlled by owners whose interests are divergent from the citizenry at large. Politicians rarely consider questions of ownership when making policy, but the frameworks that they establish for market economies have a profound effect on the levels of corporate plurality in business, and ultimately the outcomes for citizens. Progressives must offer a thoughtful critique which ensures that the benefits of ownership are not concentrated in the hands of the few. Policy should facilitate a fair ownership opportunity for all. This project seeks to examine ownership across the EU, it considers how Europe’s businesses are owned and where the benefits of business flow. It looks closely at different types of ownership model, for example - the joint-stock company, the private business, the partnership model and the mutually-owned enterprise. At the same time, it is concerned with ownership more widely. Who owns the land on which our produce is grown, the apartment blocks in which we live and the institutions in which we store our earnings? We have examined whether some forms of ownership are more conducive to the public good and to what extent public goals can be discharged by a wider range of ownership types. Ownership in the public interest can be achieved, but it requires a consistent approach across EU member states, with policy, legislative and regulatory frameworks that support and protect ownership that is designed for a common purpose, rather than simply focussed on maximising private profit. This report makes a series of recommendations which seek to ensure strong economies which are purposeful and successful, but which also benefit the wider public good.
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