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ICA Europe Bulletin







Regional Assembly for Europe

The Regional Assembly Seminar in October will be conducted in three breakout sessions in order to provide a forum for discussion according to the interests of the various sectors. The detailed agenda and documentation will be mailed to registered participants early September. The schedule of meetings for the week October 2-8, 2000 is regularly updated on our web site: http://www.coop.org/europe/ra2000schedule.html

In case you have any technical questions concerning the organisation of the meetings please call Mr.Viliam Bosiak in the Slovak Union of Co-operatives, tel: (+42 17) 534 12 982, fax: (+42 17) 534 14 966, e-mail: bosiak@dusr.sk

The Third European Development Workshop

will take place in Bratislava from 9.00-12.00 October 3, 2000 with "Economic collaboration between co-operatives - a priority of the ICA European Development Strategy" as the main topic. Case studies of successful collaborations will be presented from Central and Eastern Europe on a joint purchasing project between consumer co-operatives of the Vishegrad countries, the advantages of collaboration between the Nordic countries from a Danish point of view and the case of collaboration between local co-operatives presented by the Lincoln Society, UK.

All delegates to the Regional Assembly are welcome to participate in the discussion and contribute their own experiences and ideas on how to promote trade relations between co-operatives at local, national and international levels.

Simultaneous interpretation will be provided in English and Russian. Further information is available from the Secretariat.

ICA Europe Seminar on Lobbying

"Interacting with Governments and the European Union's institutions" will be the title of the ICA Seminar to be held in Brussels. The scheduled dates are November 30 - December 1 which were chosen because the European Parliament will be in session and will provide participants with the opportunity to get an insight into the activities of the Parliament at work.

In addition to speakers from ICA member organisations having long experience in working with Governments, certain leaders and members of the European Parliament and the European Commission will also be invited to speak and answer questions from the audience.

All member organisations from Central and Eastern Europe are welcome to participate together with the three other accession countries, Cyprus, Malta and Turkey.

English and Russian interpretation will be provided.

In order to secure hotel rooms for all participants a block-booking should be made. Potential participants are therefore requested to send us a brief fax at: (+41 22) 798 41 22 or e-mail: icaeurope@coop.org by September 20.


The European Experts' Group on co-operative legislation held its first meeting on July 3-7 in Sofia, Bulgaria. The next meeting is scheduled for September 27, 2000 in Prague, immediately before the Global Legislative Conference (Sep 29 - Oct 1). The agenda will include the adoption of a framework for co-operative legislation as well as the elaboration of methods of assistance to setting up co-operatives and principles of a guarantee fund.

For further information please contact Dr.Hans-Jürgen Schaffland, DGRV, chairman of the group at tel: (+49 228) 106 214, fax: (+49 228) 106 266, e-mail: schaffland@dgrv.de


Basic indicators on co-operative activity can be an effective tool for organisations to track progress and assist in planning. Sharing this information with the ICA can assist us to better serve our members and effectively represent the co-operative movement in international, regional and national level fora. It is for these reasons that ICA began its statistical databank in 1996.

On July 27, 2000 a new questionnaire was sent out to all member organisations in view of updating the basic information on your organisation including statistical data. This questionnaire includes a substantially reduced number of indicators to facilitate your replies. In the first section you will find institutional information on your organisation for checking. The second section includes statistical indicators on membership, employees, and basic financial information.

We would appreciate receiving your replies by September 30.

ICA Europe and CCACE

The Presidium of both organisations met in Brussels on June 13 with the aim of identifying the major areas of collaboration, the methods of co-ordination and setting guidelines for an agreement between ICA Europe and CCACE. The protocol of agreement has been drafted and will be discussed at the next meeting of the two organisations.

ICA Europe, the only pan-European representation of co-operatives attaches great importance to collaborating and co-ordinating its activities with the co-operative sectoral associations based in Brussels which are recognized by the Commission as official representations of co-operatives in the EU states. Joint efforts are needed if we want to improve the image of co-operatives and obtain due recognition for them throughout Europe and particularly within the Commission. This is our joint interest and that of all European co-operatives, affiliated to ICA and/or one of the CCACE member associations.

ICA President visits Turkey and Greece

It was the first time that an ICA President visited Turkey. In addition to the four member organisations of ICA, the National Co-operative Union of Turkey, a recently established apex organisation, was also actively involved in the programme. The application of the latter for ICA membership will be on the agenda of the next European Council meeting. The programme was co-ordinated by ICA's oldest member, the National Co-operative Association, whose General Secretary is Prof. R. Demirci. He is a long-standing delegate to ICA meetings.

Mr. Rodrigues accompanied by L.Hillbom, President ICA Europe and G. Sozánski, Regional Director were received by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, Mr. H.Y.Gökalp.

The ICA President and the Regional Director continued their trip to Greece where they met President N. Liolios and General Secretary F. Litsos of Paseges and visited several agricultural co-operatives. They also met with the other ICA member, the Co-operative Institute, President C.L. Papageorgiou, General Secretary D. Mavrogiannis and several members of the Board.

Further meetings were arranged with the Panhellenic Forum of Social Economy, Panco and the Economic and Social Council of Greece, OKE. The delegation was received by the Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Mr. E. Argyris, former President of Paseges.

The aim of the trip in June was to obtain information on co-operative development in Greece, as the ICA's Greek member organisations have not been very active in relation to the ICA in the recent past.

ICA Europe President visits Russia

A study tour was organised by Centrosoyuz Russia for Lars Hillbom ICA Europe President and Lloyd Wilkinson, ICA Board member. They had discussions with Mr. V. Ermakov, President of Centrosoyuz about the development of consumer co-operatives in Russia and the relationship of the regional structures with the central union. They visited the Regional Offices in St.Petersburg, Pskov and Volgograd along with several consumer shops and co-operative enterprises.




A new dialogue started between French co-operatives and the Government. Guy Hascoët, State Secretary of the recently established "Economy of Solidarity" chaired the first General Assembly of the French Supreme Co-operative Council held on June 27, 2000 in Paris.

The results of the co-operative movement are very positive. The quantitative indicators confirm these results which are all the more significant as they are not due to any special privileges.

Jean-Claude Detilleux, president of GNC (National Co-operative Association) expressed the readiness of co-operatives to be actively involved in the new reform processes launched by the Government.

State Secretary Guy Hascoët promised that co-operatives would not be left out of the new reform measures such as salary savings. Referring to steps taken at European level, he informed participants of his negociations with the Minister of European affairs in order to relaunch discussions about the Statute of European Co-operative Society as well as to obtain a European recognition of the identity of social economy and economy of solidarity.


The two German consumer co-operative organisations, the "Zentralverband Deutscher Konsumgenossenschaften eV - ZdK" and "Konsumverband eG", both members of ICA decided to create a new central union, the Federation of Consumer Co-operatives (Gesamtverband Deutscher Konsumgenossenschaften). The founding ceremony took place on June 27, 2000 in Berlin.

ZdK, Hamburg had traditional consumer co-operatives as members along with other types of co-ops in the ecological field, co-ops for disabled people and car-sharing co-ops. It had 96 member societies with a total of 60.000 individuals.

The Consumer Federation, Berlin was originally the umbrella organisation of consumer co-ops of the former Eastern Germany. Recently, the member co-operatives got involved in new activities, such as the real-estate market and the hotel business.

The mission of the new federation is to promote consumer co-operation in Germany through raising awareness, distributing information, improving legislation, representing the co-operative interests towards the Government and the Parliament and assist members in meeting strong market competition.


On the eve of the International Co-operative Day, Polish President A. Kwasniewski met with the leaders and representatives of the Polish co-operative movement in the headquarters of the National Co-operative Council in Warsaw. This was the second time in the 100 year-old Polish co-operative history that a head of state met with co-operative members.

The President acknowledged the significant contribution of co-operatives to the economic and social development of the country. He emphasized that co-operatives should enjoy the same conditions as any other companies in order to further develop their business activities.


Mr. Lennart Hjalmarson, Deputy CEO of Kooperativa Förbundet, is the new Managing Director of the Swedish Co-operative Centre. His assignment begins on September 1, 2000. Mr. Hjalmarson replaces Mr. Karl-Johan Fogelström, who has been appointed Director General of the ICA.

Mr. Hjalmarson was Director of Education and Head of the Co-operative College Vår Gård from 1979-1983 and CEO of the Sörmland consumer co-operative society from 1983-1989. In 1990 he became deputy CEO and a member of the Management Group at KF.

The Swedish Co-operative Centre (SCC) is a development assistance organisation representing the Swedish co-operative movement. The SCC collaborates with organisations in 15 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America in order to improve the living conditions of poor families.


ICA has four member organisations in Turkey. The oldest member, the Turkish Co-operative Association joined in 1969.

There are 57,850 co-operatives with 7.9 million members in Turkey. Among the 24 different types of co-operatives, the agricultural credit, agricultural marketing co-operatives, housing, consumers' and village co-operatives are most developed. In recent years the number of co-operatives of sugar beet producers has increased substantially.

The main problem in the Turkish co-operative movement is that there are four different laws applying to the various types of co-operatives. The latest one which is considered as the most democratic legislation is the Co-operative Law Nr. 1163 of December 30, 1991. Art.51 says: "The state shall take measures to enable the development of the co-operative movement". This law allowed for the establishment of the apex organisation, the National Union of Co-operatives.

Since December 1999, Turkey is a candidate country for accession to the European Union.

United Kingdom

ICA President Roberto Rodrigues addressed the Co-operative Congress 2000 of the British Movement which took place in Manchester on May 28-29. The main theme was: Improving Performance and Accountability in Co-operative Societies.

Pat Wheatley, President of the Congress focused her speech on the involvement of women in the Movement. "Eighty per cent of co-op members are women", she said. Despite their major share, there are very few in the leadership of the Movement, either in management or in lay leadership positions.

Resolutions were passed by the Congress on a regional dimension, co-operative structures and accountability, food trade strategy, the co-operative difference, member involvement, co-operation among co-operatives, support for co-operative housing and on the Co-operative Commission. The Congress proceedings will be made available on CD Rom.

At the next Congress, which will take place in Birmingham, the report and recommendations of the Co-operative Commission will be discussed. It has been confirmed that the 2002 Congress will be held in Belfast for only the second time in the Movement's history; the first was in 1926.



Changes at ICA Secretariat

After many years of serving ICA, Bruce Thordarson left the position of Director General on July 4, 2000. ICA Europe would like to thank Bruce Thordarson for his support to the Region and wish him all the best for the future.

The Board appointed Karl-Johan Fogelström, the current Managing Director of the Swedish Co-operative Centre (SCC), as new Director General, effective September 1, 2000.

A warm welcome to the new Director General, Karl-Johan Fogelström who is a Finnish citizen, born in 1940. He was first employed by SOK, one of ICA's Finnish member organisations. He has obtained extensive international experiences while managing several Nordic projects in Kenya and Tanzania. After he joined SCC in 1985, he was appointed Senior Development Officer of the ICA Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific in New Delhi. From 1993 he was first Senior Programme Officer, then Development Director and from 1998 Managing Director of SCC.

ICA addresses UN General Assembly

The ICA was one of nine NGOs invited to address the Special Session of the UN General Assembly which met in Geneva to review implementation of the World Summit on Social Development. This invitation was recognition by the UN of ICA's status as one of the largest representative civil society organisations in the world and a partner to the UN.

Bruce Thordarson, former ICA Director General, delivered a statement on June 30 and said "ICA is convinced that there is a growing potential for co-operative development, and for co-operative renewal, in light of the limitations of the free market, in regard to social responsibility and equity, the advantages of decentralisation of power, the importance of stakeholder and community involvement in economic and social life, and the growing role of the civil society." He reiterated the commitment of the co-operative movement to effective action in putting social justice at the heart of the global political agenda for the promotion of peace and prosperity.

ICA and Youth

The ICA working group on Youth Initiative met on June 16, 2000 in Geneva for a brainstorming session. Stefania Marcone, ICA Board Member in charge of youth issues chaired the session. Gabriella Sozánski, ICA Europe Director and Fanja Rasolomanana, ICA staff co-ordinator for youth initiatives also attended the meeting. The aim of the group is to promote a network of youth co-operators and encourage their involvement in ICA activities, collect information from the regions on members' activities and draft a strategy paper for submission to the ICA Board at their next meeting in Bratislava, October 2000.


If co-operatives are to continue to increase their ability to make a difference, they will require enhanced internal capacities - professional management, committed, enlightened and honest leadership, institutional capacity-building, general membership education and training - in addition to constructive support from governments. This was the unanimous conclusion reached by speakers at the Committee for the Promotion and Advancement of Co-operatives (COPAC) Open Forum held in Geneva on June 28, 2000.

Mr. Göran Hultin, Executive Director, Employment Sector of the ILO, opened the session. The ICA President, Mr. Roberto Rodrigues, gave an introductory speech. Presentations were made by some ICA members, amongst them, Crédit Mutuel of France, the Mondragon co-operatives of Spain and NCBA, USA.

Organised in close collaboration with the ILO, the Forum was one of the side events hosted by the ILO during the Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly (Geneva 2000). For more information visit: http://www.copacgva.org/fora/geneva2000.htm


COPAC published and distributed the Report of its Open Forum held in Berlin, October 26-27, 1999 on "Successful Co-operative Development Models in East & Central Europe" The presentation made by the Regional Director on "ICA Europe Strategy for Co-operatives in CEEC" is included in the publication.

The report is available in pdf format on the COPAC web site: http://www.copacgva.org




At its latest meeting on July 19 in Brussels, the Presidents of CCACE member organisations discussed the present priorities of CCACE, namely, the publication of the White Paper on co-operatives and the European Co-operative Statute. The organisation of a big conference or event in Brussels was a suggestion made, to contribute to the visibility and political impact of co-operatives at EU level. CCACE is currently considering hiring outside expertise, with recognised qualifications in co-operative development, to co-ordinate the members' contributions and draft CCACE's position and comments on the White Paper.

Mr. Ianello, representative of the European Commission participated in the meeting and announced that the new organigramme of DG Enterprise is expected to be published in mid-September. it is planned that the new unit will include a person specifically in charge of co-operatives, supported by a national expert.


"Challenges and perspectives for the agricultural sector" was the title of the High-Level-Seminar held in Brussels, July 10 within the PHARE/COPA/COGECA/CEJA Project. Commissioner Franz Fischler participated and talked about the enlargement of the EU and its agricultural aspects. He reminded that since the opening of the negotiations on agriculture on June 14, the following three key issues have emerged: trade questions, the fixing of quota and the question of direct payments. In addition to calling attention to the SAPARD programme, he spoke with acknowledgment about the present COPA's PHARE Project which was initially designed for one year and which will hopefully continue serving the interests of partner associations from the CEECs.


On June 30, 2000, Euro Coop published its position paper: "Euro Coop's Comments to the Communication from the Commission to the Council on Fair Trade (COM(1999) 619)". Euro Coop sees no need, at present, for the European Commission to propose a legal definition of Fair Trade. Instead, Euro Coop would welcome the establishment of a platform for dialogue with the Fair Trade Movement in order to facilitate the work of the Commission in trying to generate general common labelling and accreditation criteria for Fair Trade products.

The Position Paper is available on Euro Coop's web site: http://www.eurocoop.org


On July 12, Euro Coop forwarded informal ideas on consumer involvement in the elaboration of food legislation to the European Commission Directorate General in charge of consumer policy. Euro Coop suggested opening access to the meetings of scientific committees to a restricted number of observers and creating a body representing all stakeholders in the food chain in a balanced manner.

A copy can be obtained from the Secretariat in Brussels, tel: (+32 2) 285 00 70, fax. (+32 2) 231 07 57, e-mail: info@eurocoop.org


At the first meeting of the new working group on "Consumer Co-operative Developments"which took place at the premises of Euro Coop on June 19, 2000 members defined three priorities for the working group: the European Co-operative Statute, competition and consumer legislation. These issues will be discussed as far as they affect the consumer co-operatives. The chairman of the group, elected at the meeting is Mr. John Tilley, CWS, UK. The next meeting is scheduled for September 18, in London (UK).


"Housing Co-operatives 2000 - Democratic Structures and Self-help Initiatives in Central and Eastern Europe" is the title of an International Conference to be held October 13-14, 2000 at the Humboldt University of Berlin.

Further information on organisation and registration can be obtained from: andreas.eisen@rz.hu-berlin.de, fax: (+49 30) 2093 6501, tel: (+49 30) 2093 6500. The web site of the Institute for Co-operative Studies, organizer of the Conference is: www.agrar.hu-berlin.de/genossenschaftswesen



European Co-operative Statute ECS

Work allowing some progress towards the adoption of the European Co-operative Statute should be relaunched under the French Presidency of the EU, with the aim of opening the way for further concrete achievements under the forthcoming Swedish Presidency (January - June 2001). This is what Guy Hascoët, French Minister for the "Economy of solidarity" indicated at the end of June to the representatives of the French co-operative movement during a meeting in Paris.


The European Commission urges member states to step up consumer information on the Euro, in particular by promoting dual pricing and the use of the Eurologo in shops. The European Commission wishes to respond to the specific need for information on the introduction of the Euro, some eighteen months before.

Euro coins and notes are due to come into circulation. Therefore, it has decided to co-finance transnational information activities aimed at specific target audiences deserving particular attention because of the specific difficulties they have with obtaining access to general information. The target groups are: micro-enterprises and one-person businesses, small traders, firms located in rural or isolated areas and small enterprises.

More information on the call for proposal is available from the European Commission, e-mail: ECFIN-EUROTENDER2000@cec.eu.int


The use of internet continues to expand at a rapid pace. Apart from the main Top Level Domains (TLD) such as .COM, only very few others are still available for registration on the World Wide Web. In order to accelerate e-commerce and to enhance the interconnection and interoperability of European companies and organisations, the Commission initiated the creation of a .EU domain, which is part of the eEurope Action Plan recently approved by the European Council in Feira, Portugal.

White Paper on Governance

The Commission plans to draw up a White Paper on governance by summer 2001. The object is to provide a better response to the concerns of the public and to rethink methods that may have grown obsolete. This is due to the fact that there is a widening gap between society, which is evolving rapidly, and the practice of government and administration, which is still in many ways traditional.

The work will involve a large measure of dialogue with all interested parties and there will be particular consultation of those who could be described as Community policy users.


The new agricultural trade liberalisation agreements which the EU successfully negotiated with nine CEECs is a firm step forward in increasing free trade. The agreements entered into force on July 1. CEECs agricultural exports to the EU to be exempted from duty will increase from 37% to 77% on average. EU agricultural exports to the nine CEECs to be exempted from duty will increase from 20% to 37% on average. Negociations will continue with a view to progressively expanding agricultural trade liberalisation with each country in order to avoid the potential negative impact of an immediate opening of markets upon accession.


The European Commission has released the sixth report of the European Observatory for SMEs, an indispensable tool for enterprise policy makers, statisticians, researchers and economists. This independent report is a unique source of comprehensive information and data on the performance of SMEs in the European Economic Area plus Switzerland. Its findings will help shape enterprise policy initiatives to be launched under the Multiannual Programme for Enterprises and Entrepreneurship (2001-2005).

The report combines aggregate data on Europe's almost 20 million SMEs with an analysis of recent national policy developments and key issues affecting their competitiveness.

Executive summaries are available on the Europa server: http://europa.eu.int/comm/enterprise/ enterprise_policy/analysis/observatory.htm

Commission's activities

The Commission distributed a document summarising the results of the Commission's activities, sector by sector since it took office in September 1999. It is not exhaustive. It picks out the main areas where the Commission has enforced existing EU policies, proposed legislation or discussion papers, and promoted debate or secured agreements in the Council and international bodies. It also attempts to signal those areas where the Commission's work this year should bear fruit at a later date.

President Prodi said: "My Commission has worked hard and well. We are fulfilling the promises we made on taking office. Europe has a busy agenda and great challenges before it. I am proud of my team and what it has accomplished so far".

The document is available on the Europa server: http://europa.eu.int/



The co-operative movement can help ensure that the benefits of globalization are shared by all, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said on the eve of the International Day of Co-operatives, celebrated each year on the first Saturday of July.

He noted that in many countries the most successful co-operatives have grown into large-scale, professionally run and solidly financed enterprises that operate in full competition with commercial firms while emphasizing expertise that enables people to help themselves.

Stressing that co-operatives serve as an example to those who would like to see the private sector get more involved in development activities, he called for making greater use of the tools that the co-operative movement offers towards the shared goal of "a more just, more inclusive and more prosperous world."

The UN International Day of Co-operatives was initially celebrated on the first Saturday of July 1995, marking the centenary of the International Co-operative Alliance.



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 October 31, 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: 25 September 2000


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