European Region (1997)

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This document has been made available in electronic format
by the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA)
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July, 1997
(Source: ICA Review, Vol.90 No.2 - Annual Report 1996-1997, pp.32-34)


EUROPEAN REGION

Report by Gabriella Sozanski
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Meetings and seminars
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The Regional Assembly for Europe was held in Budapest, Hungary on 
30 October 1996 and was attended by 175 participants from 31 countries. 
The Assembly approved the work programme of ICA Europe for 1997 
and also the report of a Working Group which reviewed East-West 
co-operation and defined the main policy guidelines for ICA Europe to 
follow in respect of its assistance to Central and Eastern Europe.

A half-day session was devoted to a discussion on "Corporate Governance 
and Management Control Systems in European Co-operatives". Six speakers 
addressed the theme from the aspect of the different co-operative sectors. As 
a conclusion a Statement was adopted unanimously so that member countries 
could follow-up and improve their management and control systems at national 
level. The Review of International Co-operation published the papers presented as well as the Statement in its issue 4/96.

Prior to the Regional Assembly a Seminar took place on financial 
co-operatives in collaboration with the International Raiffeisen Union 
with the participation of 25 representatives from Central and Eastern 
European countries. During this year the European Council met twice 
(in Budapest in October 1996, and in Rome in March 1997) and 
the Presidium met four times.

Priorities
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ICA Europe's attention has been focused on the implementation
of the priorities approved by the last Regional Assembly:

Strengthening of Co-operatives in Eastern and Central Europe
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Following the recommendations of the Working Group on East-West 
collaboration which was approved by the European Council and the 
Regional Assembly, rules of procedure have been drafted and are being
discussed on ICA Europe's involvement in project activities. It was 
decided to set up an information base on East-West projects of member 
organisations to be included in the ICA global database. One project has 
been taken over from the former Co-op Network, i.e. "Turning the pyramids
upside down" for the benefit of the Moscow Regional Union of Consumer 
Co-operatives and Consuminter. The one-year project started in April 1997.

Code of practice, governing methods and management control systems 
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As a follow-up to the Statement adopted at the Regional Assembly seminar
on Governance last October further attention will be paid to this topic. 
Several member organisations from CEEC and CIS countries have reported
on the use of the experiences of Western countries particularly for the 
improvement of their co-operative legislation. 

Sustainable Human Development (SHD) 
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ICA Europe contributed to the organisation and participated at the 
International Workshop on "The co-operative movement within the 
context of Euro-Mediterranean Partnership" held in Bari, Italy, on 
28 February 1997. As an outcome, a co-operative network of the 
12 Euro-Med countries was established which is in charge of follow-up 
activities leading to a second workshop in two years time. This 
programme goes beyond the geographical border of Europe and covers 
countries of the Middle East and North Africa around the Mediterranean Sea. 
ICA Europe wants to contribute this way to a better representation 
of that region within the ICA.

In close collaboration with the Development section of ICA a discussion 
paper on the role of ICA Europe in North-South collaboration projects 
has been prepared and is under discussion. This paper refers also to linking 
all European development activities to the recently established Development Trust.

Co-operative Image in Europe: improving information and communication 
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The establishment of an electronic databank containing basic information 
and statistics on the European co-operative movements has been the 
primary objective of this priority. A one-year project, co-financed to 
the amount of 20% by DG XXIII of the European Commission, started 
last March and will be co-ordinated with the global ICA database programme.

Gender Issues
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Following the Statement on Co-operative Identity and the 1995 
General Assembly Resolution on Gender Equality in Co-operatives 
ICA Europe has incorporated a gender aspect in all its priorities. 
The Secretariat contributed to publishing and distributing the second 
Co-op Women's Net Newsletter. In order to improve gender equality 
the European Council decided at its meeting in Rome to analyse the 
European answers to the ICA President's Gender Policy letter, to 
review the Rules for the European Region from a gender perspective, 
and to focus on gender equality when setting up an Election Committee
to prepare the next European elections in 1998. Special attention will 
be paid to gender aggregated data in the Statistical Project and, as a 
target, female speakers will also be sought at European meetings and seminars.

Collaboration with the Sectoral Associations and other EU Organisations
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Since the creation of ICA Europe the sectoral associations of Brussels 
have attended the ICA European Council meetings as observers. The 
question of how best to co-operate and share responsibilities in order to 
avoid overlapping activities was discussed on several occasions. The latest 
Council meeting discussed a draft paper on collaboration prepared by the 
Secretariat and set up a working group to discuss this topic further and put 
forward a proposal on the future strategy of ICA Europe vis--vis the Brussels 
organisations for the September meeting of the Council. According to the new 
operating rules of CCACE, the co-ordinating body of the sectoral associations, 
ICA Europe will also be invited to their meetings either at presidential 
or at secretariat level.

Membership
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ICA welcomed four new European members, the Apex Organisation of 
Maltese Co-operatives, the Co-operative Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina 
and two Polish members, the National Auditing Union of Workers' 
Co-operatives and the National Association of Credit Unions. At the same 
time, due to non-payment of subscription, two organisations had to leave, 
one withdrew and another suspended its membership due to financial difficulties.
A new application has been received from the Swedish Co-operative 
Housing Organisation (SBC) which will be reviewed by the European
Council and the ICA Board in September.

At present the ICA's European Region counts 93 member 
organisations from 36 countries.

Other activities of the Region included visits to member organisations
 which covered in total 12 countries of Europe. These trips were on 
the invitation of member organisations and served different purposes,
either participation at important co-operative events and meetings, 
or getting acquainted with movements and lobbying with governments
for improving co-operative legislation. There were also some
international conferences where ICA Europe was represented.

European Secretariat
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Following staff changes which took place last December the European 
Secretariat employs one full time person serving as Secretary to the
European Council. For the first time since its establishment the 
European Office was invited to the consultation meeting of 
the ICA Regional Directors.