Report from the European Region

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

     (Source: Review of International Co-operation,
     Vol.89, No.3/1996, p.30-34)

                       European Region

                       Arsenio Invernizzi
                       Gabriella Sozanski

1995 Regional Assembly
At the Centennial Congress of the ICA the European Region held
a Special Regional Assembly on 19 September, 1995, in
Manchester and approved the priorities and a work programme
for 1996-97.

Three other major issues figured on the agenda of the

 The new Rules and Standing Orders of the European Region
were discussed and adopted.

  As Graham Melmoth resigned from the Presidency and, in
compliance with the new Rules, another Vice-Chairman had 
to be nominated, elections took place at the Special
Regional Assembly. Lars Hillbom was elected Chairman,
Raija Itkonen second Vice-Chairman and Dr. Hans-Detlef
Wulker member of the Council. In place of Javier Sanz,
Juan Luis Arrieta was co-opted to the Council. The
Council consists of 13 members.

  The Regional Assembly also adopted a motion on Gender
Equality in Co-operatives which was submitted to and
adopted by the General Assembly the day after.
During this year the European Region held one Council meeting
(March 1996 in Stockholm), five Presidium meetings (November
1995 in Prague, February 1996 in Helsinki, March in Stockholm,
June in Beijing, September in Geneva) and has prepared the
Regional Assembly and European Council meeting to take place
in Budapest in October 1996.  

Since September 1995, ICA Europe's attention has been focused
on the implementation of four priorities:

Strengthening of Co-operatives in Eastern and Central Europe
One of the main priorities for ICA Europe has been to
co-ordinate development activities with particular attention
to Central and East European co-operative movements, and

  Assistance to co-operative movements - on their request -
in their dialogue with government agencies with the aim
of improving the image of co-operatives and co-operative
legislation. This  has been one of the main objectives of
the visits of the Chairman to several countries of
Europe, which are enumerated later.

  Definition of priority themes for sub-regional
co-operation of interest to one or several co-operative
movements and organisation of a seminar; as the financial
aspects of co-operation have been identified as a topic
of great interest to the region, a seminar will be
arranged prior to the Regional Assembly by the
International Raiffeisen Union (IRU) in collaboration
with ICA. 25 Central and Eastern European
representatives have been invited to participate in the

  Collaboration with Co-op Network for defining the further
steps to integrate its activities within the framework of
ICA Europe.

Several reports analysing the activities of the Co-op Network
and thorough discussions of the subject led to the following
decision of the European Council members and the Board of the
Co-op Network:

  The Co-op Network should cease to exist as an

  The activities of the Co-op Network should end by 01
July,1996. Its books should be closed no later than that
date so that no financial obligations remain, and any  
remaining positive balance on the current account should
be transferred to ICA.

  ICA Europe should take initiatives in the future to
increase support for co-operative development in Central
and Eastern Europe, through projects and by other means,
on the clear understanding that this is done with the
agreement of, and never in competition with, its members.

  ICA Europe should not take responsibility for any
currently-functioning Network projects, which should be
transferred to Co-op Network Scandinavia, along with   
the remaining project funds, if they are not terminated
before 1 July, 1996. However, ICA Europe should assess
the possibility of implementing the pending projects
which have been submitted for funding by Co-op Network,
with decisions made on a case-by-case basis.

  The ICA European Council should take responsibility for
those policy functions presently performed by the Co-op
Network Board.

As assistance to Central and Eastern Europe remains one of the
main priorities of ICA Europe it was decided to set up a
Working Group with the aim of designing a strategy for the
assistance of co-operative movements in Central and Eastern
Europe. A questionnaire was sent out to all members as a first
step to survey the ongoing projects and to identify the needs.
The Working Group will submit a report to the next European
Council meeting in October.  

Code of practice, governing methods and management control
As a follow-up to the recommendations adopted at the seminar
on "Corporate governance and management control systems" held
in St. Petersburg, in July 1995 this priority has been
selected as the main topic for the Regional Assembly. As
background document, a summary prepared by Reimer Volkers and
Moira Lees was circulated. Speakers will address the topic
from different aspects (sectoral, regional etc.) which will
then facilitate the formulation of guidelines to be applied in
the co-operative movements of the European members.

Sustainable Human Development (SHD)
Within this large concept, ICA Europe focused this year on
two areas: 

-  Environment and 

-  North/South co-operation 

ICA Europe continued supporting the ICA global action on SHD
through the following activities:

  Co-op Network, Koopi and ICA Europe organised a seminar
on "Co-operatives for a better Baltic Sea environment" in
Visby, Sweden in May 1996 where a proclamation was
adopted. The most urgent need seemed to be better
information to member organisations and lobbying on their
behalf with development partners; 

  Participated in elaborating the conditions for setting up
the Development Trust Fund and seeing how the European
co-operative movements can contribute to and benefit from
the Fund, particularly with regard to development
programmes for Central and Eastern Europe;

  Assisted in preparing the Conference on "Co-operative
Enterprises and Economy of Employee Shareholders" in
Imola, Italy, on 22-23 October.

Co-operative Image in Europe: Improving Information and
Improving the image of co-operatives through creating
awareness of the role of co-operatives in economic and social
development has been a priority for ICA Europe since 1994. It
is closely linked to the activities of the ICA's
Communications Department, including a contribution to the
implementation of the ICA electronic networking project.

In order to facilitate a better policy dialogue with the
European authorities and to provide more efficient services to
members, ICA Europe decided to improve its information base on
the movements of the region. 

Therefore, ICA Europe responded to a call for proposals of DG
XXIII of the European Union last November. A project on the
collection of co-operative statistical data was elaborated and
submitted to the European Commission for co-financing and was
deemed to be eligible for support. Due to the number of
eligible proposals received by the European Commission, the
decision on the extent of co-financing is still pending. 

In addition to the above four priorities, other regional
activities covered the following areas:

Membership promotion
Five applications have been received, namely from Austria,
Bosnia-Herzegovina, Malta, Poland and Spain. The information
on some of the organisations is, however, not complete yet or
the duly completed application forms have not yet been
received. Thus, the European Council will be able to submit
only one to the next ICA Board meeting, that of the Apex
Organisation of Maltese Co-operatives.

ICA Europe Work Programme co-financed by DG XXIII
By organising an Insurance Seminar on "Cross-border
co-operation" in collaboration with ACME, the last action of
the 1994-95 Work Programme was finished. ICA Europe submitted
a final technical and financial report to DG XXIII on the
programme which started in May 1994. The report has been
reviewed and approved by the Commission and thus, this
programme successfully closed.

Collaboration with the European Sectoral Associations
Collaboration with the sectoral associations was one of the
agenda items at the European Council meeting in Stockholm.
This question is closely linked to the overall role ICA Europe
is expected to play vis-a-vis the European Commission. After
having signed an agreement with COGECA last year, an agreement
on collaboration was signed with Eurocoop at the Stockholm
meeting. Proposed agreements with CECOP and ACME will be
discussed at the Council meeting in Budapest, on 29 October,
Meetings with member organisations

The Chairman and the Secretariat have made a number of visits
to member organisations and participated in co-operative
events in the following countries: Belgium (Febecoop, European
Commission, sectoral associations), Czech Republic, Denmark,
Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Portugal,
Russia, Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom.

The objective of these visits has been to discuss with the
European Council members and leaders of other European member
organisations the work priorities of ICA Europe, to get a
better picture about the development and perspectives of the
given movements, their concerns as well as their needs for

European Secretariat
In 1996 the Secretariat continued to work within the Head
Office and was run by two staff persons, a Secretary of the
European Council and a full-time Programme Officer. 

Currently, the European Region counts 92 national
organisations from 35 countries and 2 international
organisations as members.