Democratic, European, diverse
This diversity is a further guarantee of political independence - and of a lively debate.
As a non-profit, non-governmental organisation, the ECPMF is able to collect donations and offer tax-relief receipts to companies or individuals who contribute to our funds. It is classed as a socially useful body (gemeinnützig) and therefore enjoys a special tax status, too.
So far, so good – the SCE offers a wide range of opportunities and can be an excellent model for a media organisation that operates across national boundaries and includes a wide range of different members. However, the SCE is a rare organisational type, not often seen in German law or business.
The legal requirements for founding and registering an SCE at the German court are rather challenging, especially in the ECPMF's case, if you are going to register more than five members of the cooperative from at least two different EU member states.
The task is immense. We have to formally register founding members in a wide range of different countries – 34 in our case. We are working across language barriers, with different systems and specialist legal translations, and having to contend with the additional travel and accommodation required.
We have to factor in the political and administrative element: countries like Greece, Moldova or Russia often have totally different legal and administrative systems. What works well in the one country does not necessarily work in the other. Plus, there is the "human factor": People move, change their jobs, change their marital status, names and addresses. People die. So it is difficult, as the months go by, to keep, checking, updating and confirming all the documents necessary.
Nevertheless, for all the reasons stated above, the SCE cooperative is an excellent model for founding a new independent media organisation. But the whole process is not for the faint hearted: there is no framework or guidelines for the founding process. It's all about research, team work and patience – just as it has been for all the first cooperatives in the 19th century that are now honored by the UNESCO.
And if we look ahead, maybe the SCE will one day become a cultural heritage as well.