Co-ops embrace the expanded EU

THE International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) Europe and the Co-ordinating Committee of European Co-operative Organisations (CCACE) have made an agreement to embrace co-operatives across the newly enlarged EU state...

THE International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) Europe and the Co-ordinating Committee of European Co-operative Organisations (CCACE) have made an agreement to embrace co-operatives across the newly enlarged EU state for the first time.
They are also set to work together on issues of importance to co-operatives in Europe such as the present campaign to prevent co-op share capital being redefined as debt.
President of ICA Europe and Co-operatives UK Chief Executive Dame Pauline Green made the agreement official by signing a protocol at the recent ICA Europe Council meeting with Étienne Pflimlin, President of CCACE and President of the Confédération Nationale du Crédit Mutuel, France.
Under the agreement a service delivery platform called Co-operatives in Europe is to be created through which both organisations can have more influence on key European institutions.
ICA Europe will be opening an office in Brussels this month, while a joint database, communication and consultation system is to be developed to help the Co-operative Movement collectively build its presence and visibility in the European Union.
Co-operatives in Europe will shortly begin communicating and consulting with the combined membership of ICA Europe and CCACE to sound out views and suggestions on EU issues.
Ms Green has been the main driving force behind the move for closer relations between the major European co-operative bodies. She is delighted with the decision to work together.
She told the News: "We want to provide a better service for our members and exercise the influence that the strength of our presence in Europe&#039s economy demands. On 1st May, ten new countries joined the European Union, boosting its size to 25 member states.
"This means that, for the first time, the majority of the member organisations in ICA Europe will be part of the EU. Now is the perfect time for ICA Europe and CCACE to start to co-ordinate more closely our efforts on behalf of all our members."
Pooling information and resources is a crucial step forward for Europe&#039s Co-operative Movement, according to Ms Green.
She added: "CCACE co-ordinates a network of researchers in various sectors but has lacked the resources in the past to make its information available to co-operative organisations and the European Union. This link-up will mean our members in the bank, retail and worker sectors, for example, will be better able to make their business case in Europe."
The new protocol reinforces ICA Europe&#039s role as the representative organisation of co-operatives in Europe.
ICA Europe has been in detailed negotiations with partner co-operative organisation CCACE since the election of the present Council of ICA Europe in Lisbon back in 2002.

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