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ICA Europe Bulletin


DATE: MAY 2000





European Council

Hosted by the Central Co-operative Council of Bulgaria, the European Council met on 20 March in Sofia. Among other topics, members of the Council discussed and adopted the Work plan and budget for the year 2000. The main activities will include:

Regional Assembly

The invitations to the ICA Regional Assembly for Europe, to take place in Bratislava (Slovak Republic) on 4-5 October 2000, have been sent out and are to be found on the ICA Europe web site: http://www.coop.org/europe

On the occasion of the Regional Assembly a Seminar will be held on "Successful co-operative business in the new Europe". The various sectors will have a chance to discuss their specific questions in the following working groups:

  1. "Concentration and cross-border co-operation " (agricultural and consumer co-ops) - chaired by Ms. Raija Volk

  2. "Partnerships to meet globalisation" (financial sector) - chaired by Mr. Hans-Detlef Wülker

  3. "Co-ops as models for implementing new initiatives" (workers', housing, health and new co-ops) - chaired by Mr. Marian Rybar

  4. If you wish to share your experiences in any of the above areas, please contact us at icaeurope@coop.org and send in your contribution by 31 August.

Please remember to register for the Regional Assembly before 30 June 2000.

New members

On the recommendation of the European Council the ICA Board adopted the following organisations as new members:

We are happy to report an increase in the number of countries (37) as well as in the number of European organisations (93) represented in ICA Europe.

There will be a reception welcoming new ICA members from Europe in Bratislava, after the Regional Assembly at 13.00 on 5 October 2000.

Development Issues

The European Development Task Force had two meetings, one in March and one in May. Several speakers were invited to talkabout European funding possibilities and procedures at the second meeting, held at the Co-operative College at Stanford Hall (UK).

Following a brainstorming session, five topics were selected as important areas for co-operative development, specifically for management development:

The training of the training providers, e.g. with curricula development and twinning, can be linked to current thinking on lifelong learning. This is the topic where the Co-operative College is able to offer its help, and draft a project proposal to get European funding.

If ICA member organisations are interested in contributing to any of the project ideas or participating as partners in future programmes related to the above topics please contact the Regional Office.


The ICA Development Advisory Committee meeting was held in Israel on 8 April. Karl Fogelstrom of the Swedish Co-operative Centre suggested that ICA's development programme should focus more explicitly on poverty alleviation. This is the current focus of the development community. Therefore regional strategies and policies should be reviewed in this light. He also made a presentation that demonstrated how poverty reduction requires equality of distribution as well as economic growth.


A European experts' group has been set up on legislative issues and will be chaired by Dr.Hans Jürgen Schaffland (DGRV, Germany). Comprising eight members, this group has been formed with the aim of co-ordinating legal activities in Europe and providing an input to the ICA Legislative Commission chaired by Dr.Ivan Prikryl, ICA Board member.


The ICA Board approved the Terms of Reference for the ICA's Legislative Commission on 10 April, and agreed on holding a Global Legislative Conference in Prague on 29 September to 1 October, 2000.


ICA Europe was one of the speakers at the COPAC experts' meeting on co-operative legislation held in Tel Aviv, 9 April 2000. COPAC members (co-operative and UN organisations) as well as representatives of all ICA regions met for the first time to inform each other about their activities in relation to co-operative legislation. It was suggested that COPAC should continue with this type of co-ordination in order to exchange information regularly and avoid overlapping.

ICA Board decisions

The ICA Board approved a new "ICA Strategy for Promoting Gender Equality", copies of which will be sent by the President to member organisations and will feature in the next issue of the ICA's newsletter "Alliance". The strategy paper is also available on the web site of the ICA Global Women's Committee: http://www.coop.org/ica/issues/genderstrategy2000.html


The Board approved the establishment of an ICA Youth Network, with specific action proposals to be presented to the next meeting. ICA Board member Stefania Marcone, (Legacoop, Italy) will serve as liaison between the Board and Head Office as this new project develops. The youth co-ordinator in the Head Office is Fanja Rasolomanana, email: fanja@coop.org.

Those European member organisations who have special youth policies or youth activities should send information to the Regional Office. Please suggest any names of young co-operators who could be contacts for the ICA Youth Network.

When selecting representatives to attend the Regional Assembly in Bratislava, please include as many young people as possible, while keeping in mind a gender balance!




After the European Council meeting in Sofia on 23 March, ICA members were received by the President of the Republic, Peter Stoyanov.

Meetings also took place with the leaders of the Central Union of Workers' Productive Co-operatives as well as with the President of the Union of Agricultural Co-operatives.


The Federation of Danish Co-operatives (FDC) published a booklet "Transnational Co-operatives - Perspectives for admission of members abroad and cross-boarder mergers". For copies contact the FDC, email: andel@fedecoop.dk


Jaan Leetsar, professor of the Estonian Agricultural University and member of the Board of the Estonian Co-operative Union published an interesting study on "Co-operation in the globalising world". Electronic or hard copies are available from the Regional Office.


The Confédération Nationale de la Mutualité, de la Coopération et du Crédit Agricoles (CNMCCA) held its annual Congress on 11-12 May 2000. The theme of this years' conference focused on agriculture in the face of the new social and economic environment. Agriculture today is considered to be a production area like any other, facing competitive markets and also frequently contradicting expectations from consumers and citizens. Its main challenge is now in reconciling both economic and social requirements.


The Crédit Coopératif shows good performance for 1999. With an increase of more than +24,2% of the net result, which represents 130,4 million French Francs, 1999 follows the steady increase noticed in recent years. These results are marked by the take over of the Banque Pommier Finindus by the Banque Française de Crédit Coopératif (BFCC). Commercial development was sustained in all customer services: business, non-mercantile sector and individuals.


Crédit Mutuel President, Etienne Pflimlin and Director-General Michel Lucas presented the good results of 1999 to the press, for the Crédit Mutuel-CIC and the Crédit Mutuel. After the completion of the first period since the acquisition of the CIC in April 1998, the group Crédit Mutuel-CIC shows a net result of 4,1 billion FF, an increase of 19,8% after endowment of 1,6 billion FF to funds for general banking risks.


The 26th National Assembly of Confcooperative took place in Rome, 14-15 March 2000. Present at the Assembly were six Ministers of the Italian Government as well as ICA President Roberto Rodrigues, ICA Europe President Lars Hillbom and Etienne Pflimlin, President of the Co-ordinating Committee of European Co-operative Associations (CCACE).

The 700 Italian delegates elected the leaders who will be running the organisation for the next four years. Luigi Marino was re-elected as President of Confcooperative.

In his speech to the Assembly, Mr. Marino stated that the Italian co-operative movement has strong potential, which if fully developed could contribute to providing solutions to existing problems within the country. To make this possible, it is essential that the specific nature of co-operatives is respected and that a specific development strategy for co-operatives be constructed with the aim of removing constraints and contradictions existing within the current legislation. Mr. Marino lodged an appeal for a precise commitment on the part of the Italian Government with regard to this matter.


A May 1st Workers' Jubilee was celebrated in presence of Pope John Paul II, in Rome. An estimated 200.000 participants, including delegations from 54 countries were present.

Speaking to representatives of the co-operative movement; private entrepreneurs; employees; workers; independent professionals; women and men involved in the world of commerce and finance, the Pope urged all to "globalise solidarity".

He asked people to face social and economic unbalances existing in the workplace by putting dignity first. He also asked to right injustices while safeguarding people's cultures and development models. He then strongly invited rich countries to reduce or eradicate poor countries' debt and asked those who have great financial power to operate in favour of a growth of solidarity between people.

Mr. Juan Somavia, Director General of the ILO, took the floor representing all categories of workers. The speech is available on the ILO's web site under What's new? - Press Releases: http://www.ilo.org

On Confcooperative's request and as a representative of the world's co-operative movement, the President of ICA Roberto Rodrigues, was officially invited by the Vatican to take part in the celebration. During a private audience in St. Peter's Church on the 2 May, he had the opportunity to talk with the Pope.


An all-Russian Co-operative Forum of women and youth was organised by Centrosoyuz of the Russian Federation in Moscow, on 10 March 2000. ICA Board members, Stefania Marcone and Lars Hillbom made presentations. A video-tape of the event is available at the Regional Office. The Russian Co-operative Forum of women and youth adopted a Resolution. On behalf of women and young people, the forum called on the co-operative organisations of Russia to involve women and youth more actively in the management of co-operatives, to continue work on dissemination of ideas, principles and values of the co-operative movement and to hold regional meetings concerning women and youth.


The first co-operative in Sweden celebrated its 150th anniversary in May 2000. The "Lagunda Hagunda Häraders varuanskaffnings Aktiebolag" co-operative, located near the old university town of Uppsala, north of Stockholm, is considered to be the cradle of both the consumer and the agricultural co-operatives of Sweden.

The celebration was held on 12-13 May in Orsundsbro, site of the co-operative, in the presence of officials both from the consumer co-operative movement (KF), of which Lars Hillbom was one of the main speakers - and the agricultural co-operative organisation (LRF), with the presence of the former President Bo Dockered.

The first consumer co-operative was founded by and for farmers in1850 in order to jointly purchase food, tools and other equipment for farming. The orders were first taken from the members and the co-op then looked for the best supplier. The first purchase was herring from the North Sea. Then came Baltic herring, red paint and tools, etc.

United Kingdom

The Co-operative Retail Services CRS, the second largest consumer society of the country, which has experienced trading and financial difficulties in the past two years, merged with the Co-operative Wholesale Society CWS, the largest co-operative retailer and federal society, on 2 April. Creating a society with some 50,000 employees, and an annual sales turnover of £4.7 billion this represents approximately 50% of the total co-operative movement sales. A committee has been formed, with an independent chairman, to consider and make proposals for a constitutional structure including the size of the Board. It will report by the end of the year for implementation in mid-2001. Graham Melmoth is the Chief Executive.


A major inquiry into the future of the Movement has been established, with the backing of the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, and under the chairmanship of the General Secretary of the Trade Unions Congress, John Monks. Its membership comprises the Chairman and Chief Executive of the Co-operative Union, a member of the Union's Executive Committee, Chairman and Chief Executive of the CWS, and the Chief Executive of the Co-operative Bank. Recommendations are expected by autumn, and will be debated at the 2001 Congress.



"Alliance" - a new publication of ICA has been launched in replacement of the former ICA News. Alliance will appear quarterly. Each issue will contain a feature article, which will treat one subject in greater detail. It is being published in collaboration with ICMIF, one of ICA's specialised organisations, taking advantage of their in-house editing, computer design and printing facilities.


This year's Co-operative Day Message will be on the theme of "Co-operatives and Employment Promotion", as agreed with the UN. The text will be made available in June.


The ICA Board approved the dates of 13-20 October for the 2001 General Assembly and related meetings in Seoul, South Korea.


In conjunction with the ICA Global Forum in Rio de Janeiro, early December, "Rio Cooperativo 2000", a co-operative exhibition, "III EXPOCOOP", will be organised. The event will welcome over 3,000 Brazilian and international co-operative members, particularly from Mercosul countries.

If your business is seeking to expand into new markets, take part in the III EXPOCOOP and book your space now.

For further information call toll-free: 55-0800-612228 and consult the web site: www.riocoop2000.org


Staff changes: The Communications Department has officially been abolished and the employment of Mary Treacy and Amélia Morgado has been terminated.

Fanja Rasolomanana has been appointed to the new position of Manager of Information Technology, reporting to the Director-General. This will become effective on 1 June.



Under the presidency of Mrs. Fiorella Ghilardotti, the "Third Sector/Social Economy" Intergroup of the European Parliament held its first meeting (after its reconstitution) in Strasbourg on 12 April 2000. Representatives of various political groups, taking part in the Intergroup, have decided to react vigorously to the decision of the European Commission to abolish the Social Economy unit and keep only the co-operative sector under DG Enterprise.

The European Commission does not consider Social Economy to be a positive priority and believes that the consultative committee of co-operatives, mutuals, associations and foundations (CMAF) represents a negative priority.

The preparation of a White Paper on Co-operatives will be relaunched.


The European Commission has approved a policy document that sets out the parameters for a new European Community Development Policy. "It is politically and morally unacceptable that more than a billion people on this planet still have to survive on less than one Euro per day" - said Poul Nielson, European Commissioner for Development Co-operation and Humanitarian Aid.

The new policy document firmly places poverty eradication as the central focus of the Community's development policy efforts. "Fighting poverty is our core business. To successfully engage in that battle we must refocus our policies and restructure our means and methods", the Commissioner said.


Of the 50 regions in the candidate countries of Central Europe, 48 registered a per capita GDP current below 75% of the EU 15 average for the period 1995 to 1997. This level was exceeded only by the regions Praha in the Czech Republic and Bratislavsky in Slovakia, which recorded figures of 119% and 96% respectively. This information is provided by Eurostat, the Statistical Office of the European Communities in Luxembourg.


Over the next few years the stability pact for the western Balkans will be one of the budget priorities for the European Union. In all, a maximum of EURO 5.5 billion will be earmarked for the western Balkans for 2000-2006. The Commission proposal includes a large sum for Serbia (2.3 billion). This aid will be made available only if Serbia embraces democracy. The proposed solution links political responsibility for the Balkans and budgetary discipline. The Commission also proposes to transfer aid for Cyprus and Malta from the heading for external action to pre-accession aid.


In its communication "Challenges for enterprise policy in the knowledge-driven economy" the Commission sets out its approach to fostering entrepreneurship in the new economy.

Europe needs to be more entrepreneurial and more innovative if it is to face the challenges of the knowledge-driven economy. One such challenge is business-to-business electronic commerce (B2B). This will affect each and every company profoundly. Only those adapting to the new conditions will survive, says Mr. Erkki Liikanen, Commissioner responsible for Enterprise and the Information Society. The Communication therefore encourages small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to take up suc-cessful business models integrating B2B e-commerce.


The Enterprise policy objectives set out in the Commissions' Communication are supported by a new Multi-annual Programme on Enterprise and Entrepreneurship for the period 2001-2005. Mainly targeted towards the needs of small and medium sized business, this provides for financial support for policy development through the new "BEST Procedure". It also includes important instruments to ensure a better financial environment for SMEs, in the form of loan guarantees and support for the provision of risk capital. Over its five years the new Multi-annual Programme could provide up to EURO 230 million in support of the development of SMEs It will operate in over 30 countries, including the European Economic Area and the candidate countries.


In its opinion on "The EU economy: 1999 Review", the European Economic and Social Committee welcomes the current trend encouraging employment perspectives and calls on the EU to continue to apply the appropriate policy mix based on price stability, reasonable wage trends and budget consolidation. The Committee points out that a medium term growth objective of at least 3,5% is necessary in order to achieve a satisfactory reduction in unemployment. The Committee suggests greater access to venture capital and start-up finance from the banking sector - means of financing in which the EU lags far behind the US.



The ICA Board approved the Terms of Reference for the Board Members' liaison role with the Specialised Bodies, and the designation of several new assignments: Lars Hillbom for Consumer Co-op International, Valentin Ermakov for the International Health Co-operative Organisation, Ousseynou Dieng for the International Co-operative Fisheries Organisation and Elba Echevarria for the Global Women's Committee.

The ICA Board also approved the new Rules submitted by two Specialised Organisations, the Consumer Co-op International (CCI) and the International Association of Co-operative Tourism (TICA).

Specialised Bodies' meetings in Bratislava

In conjunction with the Regional Assembly for Europe, several specialised organisations will meet, namely ICA Housing, International Co-operative Banking Association (ICBA), the International Health Co-operative Organisation (IHCO), the Global Human Resources Development Committee (HRD), the ICA Communications Committee (ICACC) and the ICA Global Women's Committee together with the CICOPA Women's Committee. The preliminary schedule of these meetings can be found on the ICA Europe web site: http://www.coop.org/europe


The ICA Research Committee and the Network for Co-operative Studies in Norway are organising a "European and International Co-operatives Research Conference - The Co-operative Impulse Past, Present and Future". To be held in Oslo, Norway on 11-14 August 2000, the conference is calling for Papers from all sectors of co-operatives, on the themes of: History of co-operatives; Trust, Social Capital and Co-operation; Organisation, Entrepreneurship and Change; Regulation, Deregulation and Competition and Future Prospects and Challenges.

For further information please contact Roger Spear, Chairman of ICA Research Committee

Fax: (00 44) 1908 65 21 75, email: R.G.Spear@open.ac.uk


The Co-ordinating Committee of the European Co-operative Associations chaired by Mr. Etienne Pflimlin held a meeting in Sofia on 21 March. The two main agenda items were: the objectives, new status and draft Rules of CCACE as well as collaboration with ICA Europe.

Several amendments to the Rules were proposed, which will be submitted to the members for final approval. The Presidents and vice-presidents of CCACE and ICA Europe will meet on 13 June in order to agree on the areas of collaboration.


The annual ACME conference, this year hosted by CIS in Manchester (UK), will take place on 19-20 June 2000. The focus of the Conference will be on the New Customer Generation. With the aim of bringing a fresh, novel approach to tackling the subject the agenda will be prepared by a group of young middle managers from ACME member companies.

Today's customer is technically aware, demanding and well informed. The conference will highlight how member companies are meeting this challenge - practically and strategically. One important theme will be company profiling and the increasing emphasis of the cooperative and mutual concept. The agenda will feature external speakers, member case studies and group discussions, with issues tackled in a novel, creative and thought-provoking way.

The conference is open to all ICA members. For more information contact: Birgitta Lindström-Thordarson birgitta.acme@icmif.org or Faye Lageu faye@icmif.org.


In order to encourage trans-border co-operation, agricultural co-operatives of the European Union are urging for the adoption of the Statutes for a European Co-operative Society. Mario Campli, President of the General Committee for Agricultural Co-operation (COGECA), announced this during the recent presidium meeting in Brussels. Mr. Campli stated that mergers of agricultural co-operatives of EU countries are often hindered by the different legislations of each country, including the laws on competition. He added that alliances, which might lead to mergers, are increasingly necessary to maintain the competitivity of agricultural co-operatives.




The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development is to hold a conference, "OECD Forum 2000 - Partnerships in the new economy", on 26-28 June in Paris, France, aiming to bring together Ministers, heads of international organisations and participants from the business sector, NGOs and civil society at large. For further information on this event please consult the OECD web site:http://www.oecd.org/forum2000

Running parallel with the OECD Forum 2000 a "Knowledge Fair" will be organised, offering delegates the opportunity to exhibit and network with other organisations involved with the Forum 2000. For further information please contact Julian Hurst or Stéphanie Pochon at Touchstone Exhibitions and conferences Ltd. Tel. (00 44) 20 8332 00 44, email: oecdforum@touch-stone.co.uk



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 30 August 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
Email: martina@coop.org

Last updated: 5 June 2000


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