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ICA Europe Bulletin







Development Strategy for Co-ops in CEECs

A meeting of the European Development Task Force on 22 April in Geneva proposed changes in the Development Strategy paper, approved the Terms of Reference for the Task Force and discussed ways of assisting CEEC co-operatives in management training. Upon their recommendation, a questionnaire will be sent out to all European member organisations with the aim of obtaining information on their exact needs in this area as well as drawing up an inventory of existing training programmes and facilities for co-operative.

Co-operative Statistics

As a follow-up to the statistical project and the publication of the report "Statistics and Information on European Co-operatives" last January, ICA Europe circulated a letter among the co-ordinators of the programme, requesting them for updating the national co-operative statistics for 1997 and 1998. Please remember the deadline of 15 August. The comparative data will be made available to all member organisations before the end of this year.

ICA President visiting Europe

The ICA President and Vice-President for Europe accompanied by the Regional Director, visited Romania and Hungary last May. The purpose of both visits was to meet high-level government officials and Parliament representatives in order to lobby for strengthening co-operatives through explaining the international experiences and co-operative principles. In Romania, the delegation was received by President, Emil Constantinescu, Prime Minister, Radu Vasile, and Speaker of the Parliament, Petre Roman. In Hungary also, the President of the Republic, Arpád Göncz met the delegation. Meetings were organised in both countries with the participation of co-operative members and the press coverage was very satisfactory. The ICA member organisations in Hungary and Romania highly appreciated the visit which contributed to a better understanding of the co-operative idea and to the improvement of the negotiating position of the co-operative federations vis-à-vis the legislators of the countries.

The ICA President and Regional Director also visited the Netherlands and met the President of Rabobank, Wim Meijer, and the National Co-operative Council (NCR) represented by President H.E.Clevering, and General Director, G. van Dijk. Rabobank has been participating actively in the European Committee of ICBA but it is not affiliated with ICA. Its traditional international organisation is the International Raiffeisen Union, IRU which organisation is chaired by Mr. Meijer.

The agricultural co-operatives represented by NCR take part in the work of COGECA, CEA and after the visit of Mr.Rodrigues, their Board will consider a closer collaboration with ICA.

ICA President Roberto Rodrigues also attended the Congress of Legacoop in Rome, 14-16 April; the Congress of Portuguese Co-operatives in Lisbon, 16-17 April; an International Agricultural Seminar in Denmark, 8-10 June, organised as part of the celebration of the 100 years anniversary of the Federation of Danish Co-operatives; the 100th years jubilee Congress of KF in Stockholm and an International Co-operative Forum organised in Belgorod, Russia, 16-18 June.

New European members in ICA

At its April meeting the ICA Board decided to adopt as new members the Foundation for Rural Associations, Romania and the Federación de Cooperativas Madrileña, FECOMA, Spain.

Annual Report

A report on activities carried out by the Regional Office for Europe in 1998 is contained in the ICA Annual Report, Review 3/99 which has been circulated together with the Quebec Congress documentation.

Staff news

Martina Donahower, administrative assistant of ICA Europe, gave birth to a wonderful boy called Jackson, on 30 May. Both, mother and son are in good health.

Monika Karai, international counsellor of the National Federation of Agricultural Co-operators and Producers (MOSZ), Hungary is replacing Martina during her maternity leave of three months.

Upcoming events

The 2nd ICA European Development Workshop will be held in Romania on 20-21 September 1999 on "Management Training for Co-operatives in CEECs". The invitation for the meeting has been circulated. The Workshop will be chaired by ICA Europe President, Lars Hillbom. Items on the agenda will be an introductory presentation on Managing the co-operative difference, a Report on the present situation of management training needs and existing facilities, Good practices and opportunities for East-West co-operation including sub-regional collaboration and Resource mobilisation with speakers from the European Commission. The outcome of the Workshop should be an outline of ICA Europe Action Plan for Management Training.

The COPAC Open Forumwill be held this year on the theme, "Successful Co-operative Development Models in East & Central Europe" in Berlin, 26-27 October. The focus will be on agricultural and financial co-operative experiences. ICA Europe will participate and contribute to the Forum. More details will be circulated soon by the COPAC co-ordinator, Maria-Elena Chavez




An International Seminar on the "Experiences and Perspectives for Agricultural Co-operatives World wide was organised in Copenhagen, 8-10 June 1999. Ninety participants attended. The ICA President addressed the seminar among the 12 speakers. For more information, contact the Federation of Danish Co-operatives: fax 45 33 126148, andel@fedecoop.dk


The lobbying efforts of the French co-operative movement with the Parliament were crowned with success. In spite of a strong pressure of commercial banks and some members of the Parliament on the Government, the Parliament maintained the regulation on limited remuneration of shares. During the debates the French Minister of Finance, D. Strauss Kahn quoted several times the International Co-operative Alliance when justifying his position in favour of the deregulation of remuneration, which, according to him, is the only way of ensuring a just reward on shares. He should read carefully the whole paragraph of the 3rd ICA principle!

The Albanian Development Funds continued to work in spite of the war in Kosovo. A program supported by Crédit Mutuel through the elaboration of statutes, human resources training and data-processing expertise is being transformed into independent savings and credit co-operatives. On June 16, 1999 the Albanian government granted autonomy to the "village associations of savings and credit" (18,000 members in 228 villages) which will, on the long term, enable them to set up some fifty local savings and credit co-operatives. This project aims at facilitating the rural population to maintain and develop economic activities in the villages. At the moment, this is the only structure which is granting loans to some three million Albanians who have the lowest annual income per capita in Europe. The World Bank renewed its partnership with the project for three years.


The Second Business Conference of Co-operative Organisations in the Black Sea Region scheduled for June 2-6 in Tbilisi was postponed to November 1999.


The National Co-operative Council of Hungary organised a meeting gathering 600 co-operators from all over the country on 18 May 1999. ICA President, Roberto Rodrigues, and the European President, Lars Hillbom addressed the meeting and supported the Hungarian co-operative organisations in their efforts to improved their position in their negotiations with the government. The major issue is the modification of the Co-operative Law which would enable the parallel development of the successful old co-operatives but also the new initiatives of small farmers to set up co-operatives for some joint activities.


The 35th National Congress of Legacoop was held in Rome on 14-16 April 1999 on the theme: ‘Rethinking co-operation to grow in a free market and a good society’.The Italian Prime Minister, Massimo D’Alema attended, among other official guests, the opening ceremony. Foreign delegates from ten countries as well as representatives of DGXXIII of the European Commission and of ILO participated. The ICA President, Roberto Rodrigues addressed the Congress.From the Congress debate emerged some strategic objectives which will guide the governing bodies of Legacoop in their future work. One of them was to identify partnerships with other ICA member organisations and set up a network in order to enhance the opportunities for co-operative development.

Ivano Barberini was re-elected President of Legacoop.

The Congress report in English is available from Legacoop, fax: 39-06 84439406, e-mail: s.marcone@legacoop.it

400 delegates attended the Annual Assembly of Confcooperative in Rome last 22nd June. Luigi Marino, President of Confcooperative, addressing the political leaders participating in the meeting, underlined that the Italian co-operative movement can be considered among the most significant ones at both, world and European level which shows that social economy can represent a powerful gear to foster development and employment. Jobs created within the Confcooperative's system in the last biennium have increased by 12%. This is why the Italian co-operative movement is requesting the Government to pay more attention to this particular type of enterprises and create more stimulating conditions for co-operative development, in line with the recommendations of the UN Secretary General’s Report.


Moldcoop, the National Organisation of Consumers Co-operatives is worried about the Government efforts to nationalise co-operative property which members have accumulated during several generations. The co-operative movement has lead a campaign at different levels through the mass media to explain the special character of co-operatives and their contribution to the economic and social development of the country. Inspite of these endeavours, the Parliament put the question again on its agenda. At the request of Moldcoop, ICA has sent a letter to the Parliament of Moldova in defence of the international co-operative principles and experiences which do not allow for similar government intervention. The letter referred to the UN Secretary General’s Report on the "Status and role of co-operatives in the light of new economic and social trends" and encouraged the Parliament of Moldova to adopt an enabling legislation on co-operatives which would allow them a continuous development. According to our information, the Parliament postponed the discussion of this issue.


A new law has been drafted in Poland which provides for the transformation of co-operatives into private companies. The National Co-operative Council is worried about this new initiative which endangers the future of co-operatives and has requested ICA to provide them with information on how the question of transformation is regulated in other countries’ legislation. The ICA European President has also sent a letter to NCC suggesting some arguments that can be used when lobbying with the government in defence of co-operatives.


An International Co-operative Forum was held on 16-18 June 1999 at the Belgorod University of consumer co-operatives on the theme "Improving co-operative management – increasing the efficiency and service to members". The organiser was Centrosoyuz, Russia, chaired by Valentin Ermakov, member of ICA Board who presented "Consumer co-operatives of Russia on the threshold of the third millenium". Galina Kisseleva, deputy chair of the ICA Global Women’s Committee and member of the European Council also attended the meeting. The local government was represented by the deputy governor of the Belgorod region. As ILO representative, O.Sokolova participated. The ICA President Roberto Rodrigues and Vice-President Lars Hillbom attended and addressed the meeting. Presentations were made, among others, by Edgar Parnell (UK), senior advisor of Plunkett Foundation on "New initiatives and new structures: co-operative response to challenges and potentialities" and by Lennart Hyalmarson (Sweden) on "Building co-operative success in the competitive market economy – the KF experience". The 145 participants of the forum represented consumer societies, regional unions, the Board of Centrosoyuz Russia and scientists from co-operative academies. Delegates from 12 foreign countries took part in the Forum.


The Centennial Congress of the Swedish Co-operative Union, KF 100 was honoured by the presence of the King and the Queen as well as 113 foreign guests representing co-operative movements worldwide. The Prime Minister made an excellent and very supportive address. The ICA President emphasised in his address the significant role of the Swedish co-operative movement in development, their generous contribution to improving the living standards of people in the third world as well as the outstanding Swedish personalities in the history of ICA, some of them serving as ICA Presidents.

Mr. Rodrigues, ICA President as well as the Swedish Co-operative Centre and the development programme called V tree-planting project were granted the highest Swedish co-operative award, named after Albin Johansson.

United Kingdom

The 130th Congress of the UK Co-operative Union took place in Brighton, England on 30-31 May last, attended by some 450 delegates of the member societies. The European President, Lars Hillbom represented ICA. The Congress was preceded by the Annual General Meeting of the CWS.

Congress was presided over by Bob Burlton, chief Executive Officer of the Oxford, Swindon & Gloucester consumer co-operative, who has subsequently been reappointed the Union’s Chairman. A full business agenda occupied the two days of Congress, including presentations on ‘The Food Business – Co-op Brand’, ‘The Co-op Travel Revolution’ and ‘Financial Services and Retailing’. Additionally, delegates had the opportunity of participating in two of five ‘Choices’ sessions on subjects of current topical interest.

As well as Congress being the Annual General Meeting of the Union’s member societies, the agenda provided for discussion of a number of proposals, the principal arising resolutions being concerned with the Movement’s Regionalisation policy, encouraging the development of the co-operative sector and the Promotion of Co-operation and seeking to exploit the Internet to benefit co-operatives.

Transcripts of the presentation sessions and summary reports of the ‘Choices’ sessions will be available from the Co-operative Union (fax: 44-161 8317684, e-mail: info@co-opu.demon.co.uk ) in August.

Congress congratulated the ICA for its presence on the internet and called upon the Co-operative Union to seek to encourage the ICA to further develop its site to provide an expanding resource for use by schools, colleges, members and customers.




At the meeting of the European Committee of the International Co-operative Banking Association held in Madrid on 4 June 1999, Rabobank (Netherlands) explained in a presentation on its strategy its intention of seeking partnership among EU co-operative banks in order to face the increasing size of the new banking market in Euros. The CEO of the Building Societies Association (UK) talked about demutualisation and gave a key to understand their failure which was due to the attitude of building societies not remaining true to their initial purpose: maintaining close relations with their members based on common interests.


CECOP, the European Confederation of workers’ Co-operatives, Social Co-operatives and participative Enterprises is celebrating its 20th anniversary. On this occasion the first Congress of the organisation will be convened 25-26 October 1999 in Brussels, with the title: Enterprise with a difference in Europe – CECOP: Twenty years innovating.

For more information contact Rainer Schlüter, General Secretary or Antonina Guarrella at cecop@cecop.org or fax: 32-2 543 10 37.


This year the Congress of European Agriculture, organised by CEA-COPA-COGECA will take place in Verona, Italy from 22 to 24 September. The theme will be "European agriculture and the challenge of globalisation" and will include sessions on ‘Europe and the upcoming international trade negotiations’, European agriculture in world economy’, ‘For transparent and fair competition’, ‘Farmer-controlled enterprises on the markets’ and ‘Competition and solidarity at world level. ICA President Roberto Rodrigues was invited to be on the panel of the session ‘Farmer-controlled enterprises on the markets’. As usual, this year also the European Commissioner for Agriculture is expected to attend the Congress and make a presentation.

Massimo Coccia, President of Federcoopesca, the sectoral Federation of Confcooperative, Italy, for fisheries, has been appointed Chairman of the Fisheries Sectionof COGECA in Brussels.


NKL, the Norwegian Consumer Co-operative Union, hosted the EUROCOOP group meeting on Food Quality held in conjunction with the INTERCOOP Food Quality group meeting and it gathered some 30 participants. The presentation of fishing, landing, processing and deep-freezing of fish, mainly cod, pollock, wolf fish and cat fish, was arranged by Marit Bjerkås, head of NKL Food Laboratory.

The meeting itself focused more on the quality demand of different authorities, like EU and on a discussion about the role of co-operatives and ICA in the work with the UN/FAO Codex.


and the International Consumer Co-operative Organisation of ICA, ICCO decided to merge. The decision will officially be approved by the ICCO meeting in Quebec, in August. From the 1st July, 1999 the Secretariat of the Committee has moved to Geneva and is taken care by Mats Ahnlund.


There is a quickly growing number of health co-operatives in Europe as well as in the rest of the world, said Per-Olof Jönsson, vice-chairman of the European region of ICA International Health Co-operative Organisation, IHCO.

The United Nations published 1998 year a big report on health co-operatives in the world and it turned out, which was a surprise for most of us, there are between 50 and 100 million households in the world served by health co-operatives, in 53 countries.

Health co-operatives can be owned either by doctors or by clients of hospitals. A co-operative can also be run by both clients and doctors together in a multi-purpose or mixed co-operative such as the Espriu Foundation in Spain. The President of Espriu Foundation is also chairman of IHCO Europe.

They can also be small health care centres owned by the staff, in Sweden, for instance. Other types are the co-operative pharmacies in Belgium or the newly founded and quickly growing co-operative health insurance in Slovakia, Druzap.



Second phase of the Leonardo programme approved

On 26 April 1999, the EU Council gave its final approval to the second phase of the Leonardo programme (vocational training). It covers a 7 years period, from January 2000 to December 2006 with a total budget of Euro 1.150 million. The programme defines the following areas for Community actions and measures, and therefore support: mobility, pilot projects, language competence, transnational networks, reference material, joint actions, and accompanying measures.

There will be three call for proposals identifying the programme's priorities for the period concerned, in 2000, in 2002, and in 2004.

The programme shall be open to the participation of the associated Central and Eastern European countries in accordance with the conditions established in the Europe agreements, in their additional protocols and in the decisions of the respective Association Councils.

The decision is published in the OJ L 146 of 11 June 1999.




WTO has recently released information on NGO participation in the Seattle Conference, 30 November-3 December 1999 which will officially launch new negotiations, the Millennium Round.

E-commerce bulletin

The ICA’s Working Group on Network Technology for Trade and Communications began work in 1997 to help co-operatives to understand the issues and to demonstrate some of the first steps in online trade. The first issue of the E-Commerce Bulletin has been published and is one of the products of this work. The working group would welcome the participation of all ICA members. Contact Mary Treacy, Director of Communications of the ICA, treacy@coop.org , fax: 41-22 798 4122.


ICA Global Women's Committee Web site is now accessible on the Internet at the following address:


It has a link to the European Women Co-operators’ Network. We encourage all of you to check the information on-line and take part in the discussion group.

Before the ICA Congress in Quebec city, Canada, a Women’s Conference will be held on 29 August on the theme, "Added Value through Women’s Participation: The enhancement of Co-operative Opportunities and Performance". Registration forms are available on the Web site of the IGWC or from MariaElena Chavez, Secretary of the Committee, fax: 41-22 7984122

The Conference is open to everybody. Come and participate!


Please remember that on the COPAC Web site, http://www.copacgva.org you can access a regularly updated list of co-operative laws worldwide. Links point to abstracts and where available full texts of the regulation or law.


The ICA Research Committee is holding this year its conference in Weimar, Germany, October 14-17th on the theme: "Continuity, Transition and Renewal: New Trends in European Co-operation".

More information, including registration forms and call for papers are available on http://www.agrar.hu-berlin.de/genossenschaftswesen

Contact person at the Humboldt University, Berlin is Andreas.Eisen@rz.hu-berlin.de

Abstracts of presentations should be sent to Yohanan.Stryjan@sh.se

You can also contact the Chairman of the ICA Research Committee, Roger Spear, fax: 44 1908 652175, e-mail: R.G.Spear@open.ac.uk or the Secretary in the ICA Office, Ms. Fanja Rasolomanana, fax: 41-22 7984122.



The Americas

The first inter-regional meeting will be held from the 9th November 1999 in Madrid. The title is "Ibero-American Conference: The Co-operative Integration". 500 people, all from ICA member organisations, are expected to attend. 250 participants will be invited from Latin America and the other half would come from Spain and Portugal.

The organiser is the ICA Regional Office for the Americas, ROAM in collaboration with the Government of Madrid. ROEP will also contribute and take part at the conference. For more information please contact Guillermo Barquero in ROAM, Costa Rica, fax: 506-2315842, e-mail: negocios@alianzaaci.or.cr


ICA’s new Business Office was opened in Singapore on 10 July 1999.

ICA’s membership base in Asia has changed considerably during the last 10 to 15 years. Whereas in 1960 India had the most active and visible co-op movement in the region and therefore, New Delhi became the headquarters of the ICA Regional Office for Asia and Pacific. Now, the huge movements in Japan, China, and Korea are among the strongest and most active members. In order to have more ICA activities in Eastern and South-East Asia, the central location of Singapore is essential. The aim of the office is to increase the business efficiency of the co-operatives of the region in this competitive world. ICA is expected to play a more active role in helping them to improve their economic performance.

Address: 510 Thomson Road, 04-01A SLF Building, Singapore 298135

Tel: 65-3582292, e-mail chrisjang@pacific.net.sg


The ICA Agricultural Organisation (ICAO) and the National Agricultural Co-operative Federation of Korea (NACF) is organising the first joint Training Programme in Seoul, September 13-18, 1999. ICAO members have been invited and each of them is expected to prepare a country paper on the development of their agricultural co-operative movement. NACF will take care of all local expenses of the participants, including full board and lodging as well as study visits. Various aspects of the experiences of the Korean Agricultural Co-operatives, such as organisational structure, marketing and supply, banking, insurance, mutual credit, processing, training and education will be explained at the training course. More information from Jo Si-Hyung, ICA office, Geneva, fax: 41-22 7984122, e-mail: agriadvisor@coop.org




Join our group of correspondents and send us news from your organisation. Deadline of receiving information for the next issue is:

8 October 1999

The ICA EUROPE BULLETIN is also available on-line:http:/www.coop.org/europe


For more details on any of the topics mentioned in the Bulletin please write to:
15 route des Morillons, 1218 Grand-Saconnex, Geneva, Switzerland
Tel: (41 22) 929 88 31/02 Fax: (41 22) 798 41 22
Email: icaeurope@coop.org

Last updated: 26 October 1999


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