ICA Europe News bulletin

about ICA Europe ICA Europe activities Members in Europe ICA Europe calendar ICA Europe news Useful links

ICA Europe Bulletin







European Council meeting

The ICA European Council met in Berlin on 28-29 October 1999 at the invitation of DGRV, the German Raiffeisen movement. The major agenda items included the Development Strategy for Central and Eastern Europe as well as the the 2nd European Development Workshop and follow-up activities related to its main topic: Management Training. The Council also had to decide on next year's work plan and budget. However, since the ICA's global budget will not be approved until the meeting of the Board's new Finance Committee in January 2000, these documents were tentatively approved on the condition that sufficient resources be available.

The European Council members adopted a Resolution urging the ICA Board and its Finance Committee to develop a proposal regarding the future involvement of the regions in the ICA's budgeting process.

Further issues discussed were the possible topics for the Regional Assembly to be held in Bratislava/Slovakia on 4-5 October. The Presidium was requested to take the final decision next January on which of the five proposed questions should be the theme of the Regional Assembly Seminar.

In relation to collaboration with CCACE, the representative body of the different co-operative sectors in Brussels, there was a unanimous agreement about the need for more co-ordination and implementation of proposals.

As regards new members, the European Council will propose that the ICA Board approve the application of the National Co-operative Council for Agriculture and Horticulture from the Netherlands. It approved also the associate membership of the Northern Ireland Federation of Housing Associations. Concerning membership applications of the Romanian Creditcoop and the Spanish CEPES (a social economy organisation), further discussions of clarification need to be conducted between the Regional Office and the organisations concerned before submitting their application to the next ICA Board meeting in April 2000.

At the invitation of the Central Co-operative Council of Bulgaria, the next meeting of the European Council will take place in Sofia, 20-21 March 2000.

The next Regional Assembly
will be held in
Bratislava, Slovakia on 4-5 October 2000.

ICA Europe Development Strategy for CEE

The Strategy which was previously discussed at the Council meeting in Bilbao and then approved - with slight modifications - in Berlin, defines ICA Europe's main role in development as being: "a promoter, facilitator and co-ordinator of activities aimed at the strengthening of co-operatives in Central and Eastern Europe".

As proposed by the Development Task Force, activities will focus on fewer areas, namely on:

The Strategy also proposes working methods to achieve the objectives. These are explained in detail in the annual work plan for Europe.

The Development Task Force, comprising 6 representatives from CEECs and 4 from Western Europe continues its work as an advisory body of the Regional Office in all development questions.

Development Workshop

The 2nd European Development Workshop was held in Budapest, Hungary on September 20-21 and was attended by a total of 35 participants. The main topic discussed was management training.

The introductory presentation of Dr. Peter Davis, Leicester University, UK, focused on "Managing the co-operative difference - Modern management practices in a co-operative context". Case studies on successful examples of bilateral and sub-regional collaboration were presented by members of the Development Task Force.

Two guest speakers, Mr. Geurts, First Secretary of the EU delegation to Hungary and Mr.Vajda, Head of Department in the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, addressed the questions of European integration and the policy of the European Commission assisting the adaptation of CEECs to the acquis.

The conclusions of the 2nd Development Workshop will soon be made available on the ICA Europe web site.

The 3rd Development Workshop is scheduled for October 2000, in conjunction with the Regional Assembly in Bratislava.

Management Training

ICA Europe has undertaken a survey on the management training needs of co-operatives in CEECs as well as the existing facilities. Replies have been received from 40 % of the CEE membership. The list is not yet complete, but if you are interested in receiving a copy of the evaluation of needs and the information on training programmes available for co-operators in CEE, please contact the Regional Office.

We call your attention to an excellent book written by Dr. Peter Davis "Managing the Co-operative Difference" - a survey of the application of modern management practices in the co-operative context. To order the book please contact Dr.Davis by e-mail: pd8@leicester.ac.uk or fax: 44 116 252 39 49.

You can find more information on the training courses and graduate studies available at the Leicester University on their web site: http://www.le.ac.uk/lumc/

Statistics and Information on European co-operatives

In response to the request for all member organisations to send in updated statistics for 1997 and 1998 we have so far received approximately 90% of answers. We are now processing the data and will make them available to all member organisations as soon as possible. We kindly urge those organisations that have not yet sent in their figures to do so rapidly, so that we can successfully complete this statistical survey and provide you with comparative data.

ICA President visiting Europe

Roberto Rodrigues was invited to make a presentation and be on the panel of a session on "Farmer-controlled enterprises on the markets" in Verona, at the Congress of European Agriculture, 23-25 September. He proposed more collaboration between ICA, IFAP, COGECA and CEA in preparation for the next WTO round starting end of November in Seattle. His proposal was welcomed and the organisations concerned asked the ICA President to co-ordinate a meeting.

The ICA President addressed the 100th anniversary meeting of the Pellervo Confederation of Finnish Co-operatives held in Helsinki, 1-3 October. He was also received by the Minister of Agriculture.

R.Rodrigues participated at the 2nd National Congress of Polish Co-operatives where his speech emphasising the need for appropriate legislation, government partnership and strong lobbying was very well received. The Congress discussed, among other topics, the draft of a new co-operative law as well as the future orientation and perspectives of the co-operative movement. Election of a new National Council took place at the Congress.

During the opening ceremony R.Rodrigues was decorated with a medal for services to co-operatives.

Alexander Kwasniewski, President of the Republic of Poland received Mr. Rodrigues and showed a great interest in the development of the world co-operative movement. He also supported a modern legislation enabling the development of Polish co-operatives.

ICA Congress

The ICA held its 32nd Congress in Quebec City, Canada, August 30th- September 1st 1999. European representation was strong with 268 European participants of which 108 were delegates from 69 European member organisations. The total of participants amounted to 1131.

Quebec Congress papers and presentations at the business sessions are available on the ICA web site - ica/ica/icaevents/congress1999/index.html


COPAC, the Co-ordinating Committee for the Promotion and Advancement of Co-operatives held an Open Forum on Successful Models of Co-operatives in East and Central Europe.

The aim of the Open Forum was to share case studies and analysis of the co-operative reform process in East and Central Europe with specific focus on agricultural and financial co-operatives and to identify factors for success and failures - models for future technical assistance to the region. The forum was attended by international NGOs and UN Agencies, all members of COPAC.

As a conclusion it was emphasised that co-operation should be continued and strengthened, that co-operative legislation, as a general framework, has to be improved as well as the lobbying techniques of national co-operative federations in CEECs and also that more attention has to be paid to building up and strengthening civil society. The presentations of the Forum are available on the COPAC web site: http://www.copacgva.org



Bosnia and Herzegovina

Lars Hillbom, President of ICA Europe visited Sarajevo and Banja Luka, capitals of Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Republic of Sprska at the invitation of the Co-operative Association, member of ICA since 1996. Mr. Hillbom had meetings with the Board of the Association, visited several co-operatives and was received by the Prime Minister in Sarajevo and the Vice Prime Minister of the Republic of Sprska in Banja Luka.


A new law has been adopted by the Bulgarian government that is not supportive to co-operative development and is not allowing for any economic activities of co-operative unions. This is a serious matter, which, according to the Central Co-operative Council, could easily lead to the destruction of the co-operative sector.

On the request of CCC the ICA Europe President addressed a letter to the Prime Minister, the President and the Speaker of Parliament of Bulgaria in defence of the international co-operative principles and co-operative democracy.


The Confédération Nationale du Crédit Mutuel, who acquired the big commercial bank, CIC in 1998, is negotiating with partners to develop a strategy for trans-boundary alliances, reported the bank's president Mr. Pflimlin at the European Fair in Strasbourg.


In response to the increase of mergings of European financial markets, DG BANK Deutsche Genossenschaftsbank AG, Frankfurt am Main, and the Rabobank Group, Utrecht (Netherlands), have agreed to join forces in a strategic alliance. The first step will entail merging their corporate and investment-banking activities in a joint venture bank based on equal shareholdings and contributions. Their long-term plan is to establish a European co-operative bank based on a network of co-operative financial groups with a strong domestic franchise. The new joint venture under the name of DG-Rabo International will provide a full range of capital market, advisory and financial products in the domestic markets of DG BANK and Rabobank as well as in other European countries. The partners announced "our joining forces is based on a model open to other members of the European co-operative banking family and includes the possibility of several joint ventures in other business areas at a later stage".

Dr. Jörg Brixner, President of the Deutscher Raiffeisenverband e.V. retired with effect of September 30, 1999. His successor is Manfred Nüssel, Vice-President of the Co-operative Federation of Bavaria since 1989. Mr. Nüssel, born in 1948, is a farmer.

Wolfgang Grüger, President of the Bundesverband der Deutschen Volksbanken und Raiffeisenbanken e.V. will also retire at the end of this year. His successor will be Dr. Christopher Pleister, currently a member of the Board of Directors of Deutsche Genossenschaftsbank AG (German Co-operative Bank).


Hungarian opposition deputies have objected to the fact that the government has not asked for derogation from the EU banking regulations, in connection with conditions of the foundation of savings co-operatives. Since the capital required is much higher in the EU than in Hungary, changes in this area could put savings co-operatives in a difficult position.


Federcasse, the Confcooperative's National Federation of co-operative banks, has promoted the production and the circulation of "ethical footballs" (footballs of which production does not involve children's labour). These are offered by 80 co-operative banks involved in the project along with a certificate attesting their origin.

A collaboration between the co-operative movements of Slovenia, Kärnten and Friuli-Venetia Giulia has recently been formalised through the establishment of a Co-operative Permanent Forum which aims at creating conditions to promote exchanges among co-operative association structures, interco-operative systems and individual enterprises. An agreement has been signed by the Raiffeisenlandesbank Kärnten, the Co-operative Union of Slovenia and the regional organisations of Confcooperative and Legacoop. In the future the Forum aims to involve co-operatives of other Austrian regions and of Croatia.

A survey on member co-operatives, which Confcooperative carries out bi-annually, reveals a general trend towards growth in the employment sector, and more specifically in social care and workers productive co-operatives.


During his stay in Chisinau, 12-15 October, Lars Hillbom met with Moldcoop board members and visited some consumer co-operatives. He was also received by the President of the Republic, the Prime Minister and the Speaker of Parliament who assured him of their support for the development of consumer co-operatives.


A programme on Stabilisation and Development of Consumer Co-operation in Russia until the year 2003 has been adopted. A reported 43% growth in the retail trade and a 46% increase in consumer goods output reflects the current financial recovery in Russian co-operative organisations and enterprises. The Russian Government adopted a resolution to "increase the role of consumer co-operation in providing the population with foodstuff" thus acknowledging the importance of co-operatives in the economy.

In collaboration with co-operatives of the United Kingdom and the Know How Fund a project to develop curricula for educational institutions of Centrosoyuz, is nearing completion. A project to develop co-operation in countries of the Caucasus region is being implemented with the support of the ICA and Co-operative Network Scandinavia.

A "radio-meeting" which discussed the issue of "Socio-economic state and raising the efficiency of the consumer co-operatives activities" was held on November 5th, in Centrosoyuz of Russia. The meeting was conducted by Valentin Ermakov, Chairman of Centrosoyuz Council, President of the Association of Russian Co-operative Organisations and member of ICA Board. Among the many participants of this broadcast were representatives of the Russian Government, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Academy of Agricultural Sciences, members of the Council and Board of Centrosoyuz, as well as consumer co-operative members and employees and representatives of trade unions.

Slovak Republic

The Co-operative Union of the Slovak Republic has carried on negotiations with the Prime Minister, the Ministry of Finance and the National Bank of Slovakia on the adoption of an Act on Credit and Savings Co-operatives. The preparation of Law on Health Co-operatives was also discussed with the Ministry of Health.

The 6th International COOPEXPO, which this year was organised in conjunction with the Food and Agriculture Fair Agrokomplex, enjoyed a participation of 70 co-operative societies of all sectors. The Exhibition, which was attended by approximately 400,000 visitors, also hosted celebrations for the 77th International Co-operative Day. The President of the Slovak Republic and the Minister for Agriculture participated in the celebrations. The next co-operative exhibition will be organised on 17-23 August 2000.

The Association of Agricultural Co-operatives of the Slovak Republic was awarded the "Gold Medal of the FAO for Slovakia" on 7 October 1999.

United Kingdom

The Co-operative Wholesale Society (CWS) and the Co-operative Retail Services (CRS) have started negotiations with a view to merging both organisations. After a failed attempt in 1994-95, this is the second time the two organisations meet to discuss a merger.



The fifth direct elections to the European Parliament took place on 10-13 June 1999. Voters in the fifteen Member States, i.e. almost 300 million in all, have elected their 626 representatives for a five-year term of office (1999-2004). A list of the elected delegates can be found on the web - http://www.europarl.eu.int/members/en/default.htm



A New Commission has been elected and internal restructuring is going on. A list of new Commissioners and their responsibilities have been published on the European Commission's web site - http://europa.eu.int/index_en.htm The former DG XXIII does no longer exist and in future co-operatives will belong to DG Enterprise headed by Commissioner Erkki Liikanen.

White Paper on co-operatives

Due to the changes in the European Commission the adoption of the White Paper on Co-operative Entrepreneurship cannot be expected this year. The first draft of some chapters, received in August, is evidence of a huge amount of information collected by DG XXIII, who had been charged with drafting the paper. Since the restructuring process has taken place lobbying has to restart to push a White Paper on co-operatives on the agenda of the Commission.


On 13 October, the European Commission submitted to the Parliament the regular progress report on the candidate countries. The Composite Paper consists of a general evaluation of the 13 countries (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia as well as Cyprus, Malta and Turkey) as well as individual country reports. For the full text please consult the web site of the European Commission -http://europa.eu.int/comm/enlargement - for hard copies contact the ICA Regional Office.


The Committee of Co-operatives, Mutuals, Associations and Foundations set up by the European Commission, decided at its meeting of 15 November to split up the Committee. From now on, the group of co-operatives and mutuals will work under DG Enterprise, while associations and foundations will work under DG Employment and Social Affairs.

DG Enterprise

DG Enterprise has published a leaflet on the implementation of the Action Plan to Promote Entrepreneurship and Competitiveness. This Action Plan brings together, for the first time, all aspects that have an impact on entrepreneurship and enterprises; that is new approaches in education, training and the workplace, easier access to finance and innovation, and better public administration. It was drawn up in response to the recommendations of the Business Environment Simplification Task Force (BEST) and was endorsed by the last Industry Council.

The publication is available either from DG Enterprise Fax number: (32 2) 295 9784 or from the Commission's web site: http://europa.eu.int/comm/dg23/gen_policy/response_to_best/response_to_best.html

Internal Market

On 5 October 1999, the European Commission adopted a consultative communication: "The Strategy for Europe's Internal Market" outlining strategic objectives for the European Union's Internal Market over the next five years. The proposed framework consists of four objectives: improving citizens' quality of life, enhancing the efficiency of EU product and capital markets, improving the business environment, and exploiting the achievements of the Internal Market in a changing world.




The ICA Board decided at its meeting in Quebec City on 27 August to set up a legislative committee chaired by Dr.Ivan Prikryl, member of the Board and president of the Housing Co-operative Federation in the Czech Republic. Each region will nominate a representative to the committee.

ICA European Council decided to form a small working group of legal experts as an advisory body of the Board Commission. Names from Germany, Italy, Bulgaria, Belgium and UK have been proposed. Further nominations will be accepted until 15 December 1999.

Organised with the assistance of the Open Society Foundation the second international seminar on "Co-operative Legislation in Harmony with European Laws" was held in Sofia, on October 21-22 1999. Representatives from the co-operative movements from CEE countries, Germany, Greece, Italy and Turkey took part in the seminar and a speech from the representative of the European Commission in Bulgaria was made.

More information is available from Mrs. Jana Stropkova, ICA Legislation Office in Prague, e-mail: icaleg@telecom.cz or fax: 42 02 612 40888.



The 134 members of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) will meet in Seattle (USA) at the end of November 1999 to launch a new Round of trade negotiations: the Millennium Round. The EU, which is the initiator of this idea, believes that this Round should set itself four major objectives: to secure further trade liberalisation and market access, to strengthen further the multilateral system of the WTO, to build up the developmental role and capacity of the WTO, to ensure that - both institutionally and in its specific agreements - the WTO addresses issues of concern to the broader public.

ICA President Roberto Rodrigues has been invited to participate in the new WTO Round in Seattle. Several co-operative organisations will take part in the ministerial conference and in the NGO meetings preceding the government negotiations.



UN Guidelines on Co-operatives

The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) of the United Nations General Assembly discusses at its current session the UN Secretary General's Report on Co-operatives and the Guidelines elaborated by COPAC. A resolution has been drafted for consideration by the Plenary of the General Assembly. The draft resolution calls for the adoption of the guidelines, however, the text is still being negotiated.

Co-operative organisations are kindly requested to inform their governments about the guidelines and call for the support of national delegations participating at the UN General Assembly for the adoption of the resolution.




ACME is embarking upon a major European study into mutuality with its main focus on insurance and financial services. With this study, ACME intends to go on the offensive in the demutualisation debate and present, in hard facts, why the co-operative and mutual form of insurance is such an interesting option for the consumer. All the publicity surrounding high-profile demutualisations has hidden the fact that in strict financial terms, mutuals' performance is as good, or even better, than that of many stock companies. And those who benefit are the policyholders, not the shareholders.

"We need not only to be successful", says David Hollas, chief executive of CIS (UK) and newly elected chairman of ACME, "we need to be seen to be successful".

The ACME study will also take a look at some recent demutualisations in Europe: who gained, who lost and how is the company performing afterwards.


At their meeting of 8 November, the member organisations of CCACE elected Etienne Pflimlin, first vice-president of GEBC (Association of Co-operatives Banks, Brussels), president of the organisation. Mr. Pflimlin, President of Confédération Nationale du Crédit Mutuel, France is also member of the ICA Board and ICA European Council. CCACE is regrouping at the EU level the European co-operative sectoral organisations and national inter-sectoral organisations. Its objective is to promote the co-operative form and defend the common interests of members at the EU level.

At the meeting with Mr. R.Prodi, President of the European Commission, on 8 November, the CCACE delegation requested to relaunch and support the White Paper on Co-operative Entrepreneurship and the attachment of co-operatives to DG Enterprise as well as the elimination of all disadvantageous discrimination impeding co-operative development. Members of the delegation were: Ivano Barberini (Italy), Jean-Claude Detilleux (France), Jean-François Hoffelt (Belgium), Felice Scalvini (Italy) and Hans-Detlef Wülker (Germany).

For further information on the CCACE please consult their new web site: http://www.ccace.org


COPA/COGECA and CEJA, the EU representative organisations of farmers, agricultural co-operatives and young farmers, have launched an EUR 2.5 million project aimed at assisting the national farmers' organisations in the CEECs. Financed under the PHARE Business Support programme the fifteen-month project intends to help the applicant countries prepare for membership.

EU experts will be assigned to each applicant country to facilitate the work of specific Projects Advisory Groups on institutional and organisational questions. Exchange visits between young farmers' organisations and internships will be part of the programme. To conclude the programme an event including 2 days of seminars and workshops as well as visits to farms and agri-food processing and marketing units will be arranged for presidents of representative organisations in each of the applicant countries.


Euro Coop Food Policy Working Group has followed closely the question of food safety. Especially since the European Commission President R.Prodi announced that the Commission, which has made food safety a top priority, would present to the Council and the European Parliament a White Paper on Food Safety and a Communication on the precautionary principle before the end of 1999. The aim is to review the existing food law and to establish a coherent and up-to-date body of food legislation by 2002. Euro Coop has prepared a position paper for Commissioner Byrne, responsible for health and consumer protection, on food-related issues.



The first ICA inter-regional conference held in Madrid, 9-12 November was a great success. Some 300 participants from 24 countries of Latin American and Europe (Spain and Portugal) attended the Ibero-American Conference and discussed the various aspects of co-operative integration.

ICA President Roberto Rodrigues and ICA Europe President Lars Hillbom addressed the meeting. The Madrid City Council was the main sponsor of the Conference together with some co-operative organisations. The meeting was closed by adopting the "Madrid Declaration".

The next Ibero-American Conference will be held in Rio de Janeiro, in conjunction with the Brazilian Co-operative Congress and ICA Global Forum, 4-8 December 2000.

For further information please contact the ICA Regional Office for the Americas at fax: (506) 296 09 81 and e-mail: alianza@sol.rasca.co.cr

Juan Diego Pacheco, Regional Director of the ICA's office in Costa Rica since 1990, will leave his position at the end of 1999. He will be succeeded by Ronald Alvarez, currently the Regional Office's Programme Director.



Historical Dictionary of the Cooperative Movement

A excellent reference volume for all co-operators, the "Historical Dictionary of the Cooperative Movement" offers a global and diverse view of the co-operative movement. Compiled by Jack Schaffer, former co-ordinator of Co-operative Development for the United States Agency for International Development, this dictionary provides information on the different kinds of co-operatives, significant figures, including philosophers, pioneers, officials and leaders and is complemented with a comprehensive bibliography.

To acquire your copy of the "Historical Dictionary of the Cooperative Movement" please contact the publishers directly:

Price: US$ 110.- (+ US$ 7.50 postage)

Scarecrow Press, Inc.
15200 NBN Way,
PO Box 191, Bule Ridge Summit, PA 17214-0191 - USA
Fax. 1 800 338 45 50, Tel: 1 800 462 64 20

The Pellervo Story - A history of Finnish Cooperation, 1899 - 1999

This publication offers a detailed account of the significant role that the Finnish co-operative movement has played in the development of its country, over the last hundred years.

If you are interested in buying a copy of The Pellervo Story (FIM 160.- (US$ 29.-), please write to:

Finn Coop Pellervo
Simonkatu 6 PO Box 77
00101 Helsinki
Fax: 00 35 89 694 88 45



All member organisations are requested to send us any relevant information they want to share with other members.

Please send correspondence to ICA EUROPE at the address below. Deadline for receiving contributions for the next issue is 31 January 2000.


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: 3 December 1999


Click here

This is an official site of the ICA
ICA Regional Office for Europe
15, route des Morillons,
1218 Grand-Saconnex - Geneva
Tel: (41-22) 929 88 88 | Fax: ( (41-22) 798 41 22
E-Mail: icaeurope@coop.org

E-Mail to ICA

Copyright © 1997 International Co-operative Alliance