Report of the Working Group "East-West Collaboration" (1996)

    This document has been made available in electronic format
         by the International Co-operative Alliance ICA 
                         December, 1996

          (Source: Review of International Co-operation
                    Vol.89, No.4/1996, pp.50-52)

                    Report of the Working Group 
                     "East-West Collaboration"

                       by Hans-Detlef Wulker*

In Stockholm last Spring, the ICA European Council discussed how
collaboration between the co-operative organisations in East and
West could be made more transparent and the role and strategy of
ICA Europe in such collaboration and established a Working Group
to clarify two questions.

The Working Group comprises: Dr. Armbruster (Germany), Mr. Bartus
(Hungary), Mr. Karen (Czech Republic), Ms. Parpais (France), Mr.
Schluter (CECOP-Belgium), Dr. Wulker - Chairman (Germany). The
Group has been supported by Mrs. Sozanski and Mr.Invernizzi, ICA

The Group will study how increased transparency can be brought
about in the collaboration between the organisations of Eastern
and Western Europe and in the supply and demand in development

The Group drafted a questionnaire to find out the extent of
involvement in projects, their location, requests received and
which organisations can fulfil these requests.

The questionnaire has been submitted to ICA members in both
Eastern and Western Europe and the involvement of the European
co-operative associations in Brussels is encouraged even though
they are not members of ICA Europe.

The Working Group recommends that ICA conduct this survey
annually and make available a database from replies received. The
use of modern communication technology to implement the survey
should be investigated.

Role of ICA Europe
The Group will also study and make recommendations on the role
and strategy of ICA Europe in East-West, West-East collaboration
and within the framework of technical assistance to be provided
for countries of Central and Eastern Europe.

The Group considers it a priority to develop a policy on the
collaboration between ICA members from East and West Europe and
to define areas where ICA can become active for the benefit of
its members.

The Group believes that, in order to reach the highest degree of
collaboration, several preconditions should be observed:

1.   On principle, co-operative collaboration must be
     sustainable, i.e. structures have to be set up and
     appropriate frameworks introduced or even changed. 
     Consequently, if we are serious about this, a project
     activity with the sole aim of "moneymaking" should be ruled

2.   ICA is a subsidiary institution supported by the members'
     fees. Consequently ICA's work will be focused on members'
     wishes and interests. This means in return that ICA must
     ensure that no competitive situations arise between itself
     and its members in connection with its activities in
     Central and Eastern Europe.

3.   The undisputed force of ICA lies in its reputation as
     international organisation, its contacts with government
     agencies and its relations with the co-operative
     organisations in Central and Eastern Europe as well as the
     seven principles which unite co-operative organisations
     from all over the world and from all sectors of the

Recommendations of the WG
ICA should lobby governments and international institutions for
an environment which favours the development of co-operatives.
Through such high-level policy dialogue, ICA would give the most
positive support to its members.

ICA should expand its already excellent information on the
co-operative organisations in East and West through the
questionnaire proposed by the Working Group to identify supply 
and demand, thereby increasing its role of mediating agency and
information clearing house.

ICA's reputation could lend credibility to its members through
bilateral projects and members may request the Alliance to become

The contribution of ICA in such a bilateral project can be
important from an image point of view, and the input by ICA 
staff could also give an invaluable international perspective.
Agreements should be reached between ICA and its members on the
form, contents intensity but also financing of the collaboration.

Experiences made during the last years have shown that bilateral
projects - i.e. from specialised organisation to specialised
organisation -achieve the highest development success.

Members may also request ICA to support a project within the
framework of international tenders or larger financing projects.

Should ICA take over such an activity on behalf of a member, the
Working Group urgently recommends that clear rules be defined
regarding the collaboration between ICA and other partners in the
development process.

For financial reasons, ICA cannot keep staff in reserve for
project activities.

Therefore, collaboration on behalf of member organisations is
imperative for the success of such projects.

On this staff policy background and from the trust point of view,
the rules should define i.e.:
-    disclosure duty
-    decision making procedures
-    invitation to tender
-    tendering
-    selection of project leaders
-    control of activities
-    financial control

The Working Group also recommends that ICA does not act as a
development Consultant offering services at its own initiative,
but take on projects at the request of its member organisations.

*    Dr. Wulker, Chief Executive of German Co-operative and
     Raiffeisen Confederation (DGRV) and member of ICA European
     Council, presented this report to the ICA European Council
     and Regional Assembly in Budapest, 29-30 October 1996.