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A big change in the international cooperative movement: ICA extraordinary general assembly, Rome, 5-6 June 2008

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A new ICA has been approved at this extraordinary general assembly of the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA), after two years of preparation in which the ICA sectoral organisations in general, and CICOPA in particular, have been fully active, in fact absorbing much of their energies. The assembly approved a series of fundamental decisions which clearly recognise the sectoral organisations (including CICOPA and CECOP) as the third component of the institution, alongside the central one (central office in Geneva) and the regional one (the 4 regions including Cooperatives Europe), and institutes a higher level of cohesiveness and coordination among the 3 components. The renewed ICA will start operating in January 2009.

13 June 2008

A new ICA has been approved at this extraordinary general assembly of the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA), after two years of preparation in which the ICA sectoral organisations in general, and CICOPA in particular, have been fully active, in fact absorbing much of their energies. The assembly approved a series of fundamental decisions which clearly recognise the sectoral organisations (including CICOPA and CECOP) as the third component of the institution, alongside the central one (central office in Geneva) and the regional one (the 4 regions including Cooperatives Europe), and institutes a higher level of cohesiveness and coordination among the 3 components. The renewed ICA will start operating in January 2009.

The main changes which took place last week in Rome and affecting the sectors, including CICOPA and CECOP, are the following:

1. Recognition of the sectors as a fundamental part of the ICA institutional architecture. The new ICA Rules mention that the ICA is composed of a central office, four regions, ‘global and regional sectoral organisations’, such as CICOPA and CECOP, and thematic committees to be shared by the three fundamental components. The reference to the regional sectoral organisations is the first-ever recognition that organisations such as CECOP are part of the ICA institutional system.

2 Recognition of the sectors as part of the ICA authorities. It is recognised that the ICA Authorities include the Sectoral Organisations’ assemblies and their elected bodies, alongside the assemblies and elected bodies of the central and regional components.

3 Representation of the sectors on the ICA Board. Two new seats on the ICA Board with full voting rights have been established for the two common representatives of the 9 ICA sectoral organisations. In this moment, those are Javier Salaberria, president of CICOPA, and Jean-Louis Bancel, president of ICBA (cooperative banking sector), both expected to be co-opted to the ICA Board at its next meeting.

4. Participation of the sectors in the design and implementation of the ICA strategic plan and multiannual work programme. The sectoral organisations (including CICOPA, and, indirectly as its European component, also CECOP) will participate in the design of the ICA global strategic plan and the multiannual work programme (the first one is planned for 2009-2012), and “will approve, within the 4 year work plan, budget and redistribution agreements, the annual budget and work plan prepared by each of them for integration in the global budget and work plan for approval by the ICA Board” (Art 29 of the new ICA Rules).

5. Participation of the sectors in the new ‘global membership’ organisational system. The new organisational system establishes two types of members only (full members and associate members) for the whole institution (including its central, regional and sectoral components), and abolishes sectoral members. As a result, all members of the institution, and their own members, will from now on have access to the services of all their relevant ICA bodies (central, regional and sectoral). All members of CICOPA will be full or associate members of the ICA.

6. Participation of the sectors in the new unified membership fee system. The above-mentioned new organisational system also has its application in terms of membership fees. The sectoral organisations at the global level (including CICOPA, but not CECOP) will no longer invoice their own membership fees (which, for the European members, were until now part of the CECOP invoice). In order to understand how members of CICOPA will from now on pay their membership fees, it is necessary to classify them into 3 distinct categories, the last two corresponding to the erstwhile ICA ‘sectoral members’ (abolished at the ICA extraordinary GA):

A. Those that are full ICA members : they will stop paying their membership fees to CICOPA, while continuing to pay their ICA membership fees, which will be adjusted under the proposed reform. What they now pay to CICOPA will be included in the adjusted ICA membership fees. In this case are Apex-Malta, ASCOOP-Colombia, CGSCOP-France, COCETA-Spain, Confcooperative-Italy, Co-operatives UK, JWCU-Japan, Kooperationen-Denmark, NAUWC-Poland, NUWPC-Bulgaria, PCU-Egypt, TFC-Tanzania, UCA-Uganda, UCECOM-Romania.

B. Those that are members of a national member of the ICA: they will stop paying their membership fees to CICOPA, and will not need to become full ICA members in order to continue to benefit from the services of CICOPA. What they now pay to CICOPA will be included in the adjusted ICA membership fees paid by the national member of the ICA of which they are a member. In this case are AGCI PS-Italy, AGCI Solidarietà-Italy, ANCPL-Italy, ANCST-Italy, Coopfinland, Cootrabalho-Brazil, CPS-Slovakia, CWCF-Canada, FCPU-Uruguay, FENACERCI-Portugal, Legacoopsociali-Italy, SCMVD-Czech Republic, Federlavoro-Italy, Federsolidarietà-Italy, SCOP-BTP-France, CFI-Italy, ESFIN-IDES-France

C. Those that fall under none of the two above categories, and whose only present link with the ICA is through an ICA sectoral organisation: they will stop paying their membership fees to their pertaining SO, but will have to become either full ICA members (and thus move to category A above), or members of a national member of the ICA (and thus move to category B above), or ICA associate members but (at least for the great majority of them which are eligible for full ICA membership) for a maximum period of 5 years, after which they should move to A or B. In this case are ACFHIC-China, ANTEAG-Brazil, CONACOOP-Costa Rica, FKU-Sweden, ICCIC-China, KFWC-Korea, UNCAAPS-Senegal, UNISOL-Brazil, USFWC-USA, VDP-Germany, COPAC-South Africa, ICOSI-France, Soficatra-Belgium. The last three, though, being promotion organisations and not representative ones, are not eligible for full ICA membership and will normally be able to remain ICA associate members permanently.

Concerning the above category C, the normal fixed rate for ICA associate member is 3000 CHF, except for low-income countries (according to the World Bank classification) for which the rate of 500 CHF has been established. Nevertheless, as per a decision taken by the ICA Board at its meeting on 4 June (immediately before the extraordinary GA), “the pre-existing sectoral members of the ICA that apply for associate membership, as encouraged by RWG recommendations and the revised ICA Rules, will for a two-year period (2009 and 2010) pay the same amount of subscriptions as the one which their respective sectoral organisations invoiced them in 2008”.

7. Participation of the sectors in financial redistribution. A new provision introduced in the ICA bye-laws (which replace the previous ICA standing orders) recognises the principle of financial redistribution by stipulating that the membership fees will be redistributed between the head office, the regions and the sectoral organisations, according to modalities established by the Board. Furthermore, an ICA Board decision, taken on 4 June 2008, establishes that ‘for a two-year period (2009 and 2010), financial redistribution to the sectoral organisations will be guaranteed at the same level as the total amount of subscriptions collected by each sectoral organisation in 2008. During those two years, a permanent system of redistribution to the sectoral organisations will be established’.

As a logical consequence of the above decision, redistribution from the ICA to CICOPA in 2009 and 2010 will depend on the level of payment of the 2008 membership fees by CICOPA members. European members have already paid them, as part of the CECOP invoice, but most CICOPA members outside Europe have not paid them yet. CICOPA members outside Europe to make a special effort to pay their 2008 membership fees in 2008, as this will have a direct impact on the CICOPA budget in 2009 and 2010.

International Organisation of Industrial, Artisanal and
Service Producers' Cooperatives

Secretariat: C/O European Cooperative House - avenue Milcamps 105
1030 Brussels, Belgium
Tel: +32 2 543 1033, fax: +32 2 543 1037
E-mail: cicopa[at]cicopa.coop

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