ICA Regional Assembly for Europe Prague, Czech Republic - 26-27 October 1994 Minutes Opening Ceremony The ICA President, Lars Marcus, opened the meeting by asking participants to stand for a moment of silence in tribute to the 20 co-operators who had died in the sinking of the M.S. Estonia. The President of the Co-operative Association of the Czech Republic, Ota Karen, welcomed participants and said that the Czech movement was honoured to host the first Regional Assembly. Igor Nemec, Office of the President of the Republic, spoke of the successful transformation of the Czech co-operatives since 1989. Lars Marcus proposed that Graham Melmoth, elected in 1993 as ICA Vice-President (Europe), take the chair. This was agreed. Official Business Mr. Melmoth officially called the meeting to order. The agenda, as circulated to members on 20 July, 1994, was approved. Mr. Marcus reported on the global situation of ICA. He emphasised that the successful initiation of the new regional structure is of highest importance for the future of ICA and its members. Mr. Melmoth referred to the draft Rules and Procedures for the Regional Assembly, which had also been circulated on 20 July. He reported that the European Advisory Council had recommended that these Rules be approved provisionally, and that a special committee be established to consider necessary amendments, as proposed by ICA members, so that the definitive version of the Rules could be adopted on the occasion of a special European Regional Assembly in Manchester in September 1995. Katarina Apelqvist (Observer, Sweden) proposed that the draft Rules be amended immediately to provide for the election of two Vice-Presidents. Calixte Parpais (Representative, France) said that this suggestion should be considered in due course by the special committee which had been proposed by the Council. The Chairman asked for a show of hands, which indicated that the original proposal from the European Advisory Council was approved. Mr. Melmoth said that Ms. Apelqvist's proposal should be considered by the special committee during its work next year. Report from Working Group I on Internal Issues Lars Hillbom (Representative, Sweden) reported on the six priorities which this Working Group had examined since September 1993. The Working Group had recommended to the European Advisory Council that: The report on Co-operative Identity and the Review of the Co-operative Principles, undertaken by Sven Ake Book, was a European contribution to the work of Ian MacPherson, and this activity should be regarded as completed. It was formally proposed to remove the task from the agenda of Working Group I. The short-term report on East-West relations, undertaken by Professor Hans Menkner, which recommended the initiation of a programme to train co-operative legal experts, should be used as part of the on-going work of ICA Europe. The long-term report on East-West relations, prepared by Ivan Fidler, which recommended among other things that East-West activities be a main priority of the ICA European region, and that the Co-op Network become an independent body within the structure of ICA Europe, should be accepted by the Advisory Council and Regional Assembly. (See the detailed recommendations below.) The reports on Cross-Border Activities, prepared by Thierry Jeantet and Jan Olsson, had led to the conclusion that this issue should be pursued and considered by ICA as part of its continuous agenda. The report on Corporate Governance, prepared by Reimer Volkers and Moira Lees, should form part of the European report to the ICA Congress in Manchester, and should be sent by the ICA Board to the global ICA membership for consultation. The report on North-South issues, prepared by Bjorn Genberg and Lars-Eric Birgegaard, should form part of the European contribution to the ICA Congress theme of "sustainable human development" and should be renamed "Sustainable Human Development - European Contribution"; and the activity (including the environment) should be continued under this new name. The recommendations on resource mobilisation should be implemented by ICA Europe, and the recommendations on development strategy should be used by the ICA's development programme, African members, and donor partners. The report on Gender, prepared by Raija Itkonen, should be sent to all ICA members and should serve as the basis of on-going work within the continuing projects initiated by Working Group I. Ms. Itkonen, assisted by Mary Treacy and Moira Lees, should extend this gender review to the on-going activities from Working Group II. Raija Itkonen emphasised that gender-responsive business is sound business, and that co-operatives should make an organisational commitment to promote gender equality. Ota Karen, chairman of the Co-op Network, elaborated on the proposals to make the Network an independent structure within the framework of ICA Europe. He pointed out that the Network had been created before the existence of ICA Europe, and that now there should be a natural division of labour: policy for ICA Europe, and projects for the Network. Both would benefit by the interlinkage of activities on the basis of annual agreements. Interventions: Wilkinson (Representative, U.K.), Rauter (Representative, Austria). The Chairman thanked Mr. Hillbom for his report and for the active work of the Group he had coordinated. He reported that the European Advisory Council, at its meeting the day previously, had accepted the recommendations of the Working Group that preparations should be continued until September 1995 on three topics (Corporate Governance, Sustainable Human Development, and Gender), and had also decided to recommend that the Regional Assembly should agree to the following motion regarding the East-West issue: - East-West activities shall be a main priority of the ICA European region; - ICA Europe shall coordinate all policy and administrative operations of the ICA European and the Co-op Network's East- West activities in order to avoid building up a separate East- West activity parallel to the Co-op Network; - The Co-op Network shall become an independent part of ICA Europe, with its own board and separate budget, concentrating on projects; - Overhead and administrative costs for project handling of the East-West activities shall be shared and the relations between ICA Europe and the Co-op Network shall be regulated on the basis of annual agreements; - The East-West activities of ICA Europe shall not interfere or compete with activities carried out by ICA members, unless requested by the concerned member(s). (This is a policy already adopted by the Co-op Network.); - ICA Europe should take no cost or risk in the concrete project activities of the Co-op Network; - The short-term need for legislation in Eastern and Central Europe should be a concern of the European programme of the ICA Secretariat. Interventions: Walker (Representative, Germany), Thordarson (ICA), Espriu (Representative, Spain). The recommendations of the European Advisory Council were accepted without dissent. Working Group II on External Issues Giuliano Vecchi (Representative, Italy) reported on the four activities which had been carried out under the auspices of this Working Group, which he had coordinated, since September 1993. The Working Group had recommended to the European Advisory Council that: The proposed Image Survey of opinion-leaders should not be continued as an ICA activity, but should be implemented by national movements as desired. The issue of co-operative image would be pursued through the project on Communications. The Co-operative Communications project, based on collaboration with the Inter-Press Service and on the establishment of electronic communications systems, should be continued. The Co-operative Schools project, based on the collection of present national experiences and preparation of a Co-op Day text, should be continued. The issue of Co-operative Promotion should be regarded as part of the on-going work of the ICA at the global level, and should be removed from the current work programme of ICA Europe. The Chairman reported that the European Advisory Council had agreed that work on two issues (Co-operative Communications and Schools) should be continued until September 1995. The report was approved without dissent. Future Priorities and Working Methods Graham Melmoth noted that the evolution of ICA Europe had been difficult due to the many complex issues involved, but that definite signs of progress could now be seen. The development of Rules and Procedures had been particularly complicated due to the members' different perceptions and last-minute suggestions; nevertheless, ICA Europe now has a set of Provisional Rules to guide its work during the next year. The Chairman emphasised the importance of good relations between ICA, the sectoral associations, and the specialised bodies. From the outset, he said, ICA has expressed a desire to co-operate in finding a mutually-beneficial modus vivendi. The progress to date is a tribute to the good will of all parties. The next step should be for ICA to enter into a specific Memorandum of Understanding with the CCACC and/or its members. Mr. Melmoth said that he and the European Advisory Council fully supported the new relationship between ICA and the Co-op Network, which should work to mutual advantage. He indicated that ICA's grant application to DG XXIII had been delayed due to changes on both sides, but that it would be pursued. Mr. Melmoth informed participants that the European Advisory Council had recommended that the two Working Groups be dissolved (with thanks to their group leaders, who would continue to be available to ICA Europe as advisers), and that their on-going priority activities should report directly to the new European Council through its Secretary, Arsenio Invernizzi. Intervention: Rauter (Representative, Austria). The recommendations of the European Advisory Council were approved. Election of the ICA European Council In accordance with the voting procedure previously distributed to the participants, Mr. Melmoth requested the ICA President to take the chair. Mr. Marcus noted that only one nomination had been received for Chairman of the European Council, and declared that Graham Melmoth, U.K., was elected as Chairman. Mr. Melmoth, resuming the chair, noted that only one nomination had been received for Vice-Chairman of the Council, and declared that Ota Karen, Czech Republic, was elected as Vice-Chairman. A secret vote was then conducted for election of the 10 remaining Council members from among 17 candidates. The chairman of the ICA's Audit and Control Committee, Dr. Markus Schelker, supervised the counting of ballots and subsequently announced the successful candidates, based on a total of 199 eligible ballots: Raija Itkonen, Finland 185 Etienne Pflimlin, France 173 Rolf Trodin, Sweden 169 Knud Rasmussen, Denmark 167 Pal Bartus, Hungary 162 Jean-Francois Hoffelt, Belgium 126 Giuliano Vecchi, Italy 96 Marian Rybar, Slovakia 93 Valentin Ermakov, Russia 91 Francisco Sanz, Spain 90 Co-operative Principles and Declaration for the 21st Century Dr. Ian MacPherson highlighted the draft version of his report-the Identity Statement, Background Paper, and Declaration-which had been circulated in the ICA Review, Vol. 87, Number 3. He said that, on the basis of reaction received from ICA members and the Regional Assemblies, he would prepare a final version in January 1995 for approval of the ICA Board, which would then submit the document to the Manchester Congress. Interventions: Pancho Ivanov (Representative, Bulgaria), Etienne Pflimlin (Representative, France), Pal Szilvasan (Representative, Hungary), Katarina Apelqvist (Observer, Sweden), Olle Hakelius (Representative, Sweden), Dr. Jose Espriu (Representative, Spain). The Chairman thanked Dr. MacPherson for his report, and encouraged participants to communicate any further views to him in writing. =46uture Meetings The Chairman informed participants that it was planned to organise a special European Regional Assembly in Manchester at the time of the ICA Centennial Congress in September 1995. Any Other Business Mr. Nishi of the Osaka Izumi Consumer Co-op informed participants about the development of their "Rochdale Club", designed to provide social and cultural services for members of the co-operative. He reported that several European movements had expressed interest in establishing similar clubs. Closing There being no further business, the Chairman expressed his appreciation to the participants for contributing to this historic first meeting of the ICA Regional Assembly for Europe, complimented the host movement for its major contribution, thanked the staff and interpreters, and closed the meeting.