ICA signs civil society partnership agreement with European Commission

ICA EU partnership 500 3301cICA EU partnership 500 3301c[Representatives from the International Co-operative Alliance and the European Commission sign a Framework Partnership Agreement.]Highlighting the importance of the cooperative sector in achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) recently signed a partnership agreement with the European Commission emphasizing the use of cooperatives as a business model that promotes social and economic empowerment. NCBA CLUSA, whose international programs work in 20 countries around the world, is the apex cooperative association for the United States, representing the U.S. co-op community to the ICA. The partnership, with funding from the European Commission, will extend through 2020. ICA's press release follows. 

Earlier this year, representatives from the International Co-operative Alliance and the European Commission signed in Brussels a framework partnership agreement for a global development program to benefit and advance the cooperative sector worldwide.

The partnership agreement is to improve, among others, social inclusion and economic empowerment, areas in which cooperatives play a fundamental role. Titled “Co-operatives in Development: People-Centered Businesses in Action”, the program will run through August 2020. The program is co-funded by the European Union as part of its commitment to support Civil Society Organizations active in development.

”Cooperatives are highly relevant in the realization of United Nations’ sustainable development goals," said Monique Leroux, president of the ICA. "They provide access to credit, rural electrification, health care services, food production, marketing, housing, new-business support—all of which contribute to income development and security. Europe’s support of our program is a new step in implementing the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. We are proud and eager to launch the Co-operatives in Development program.”

Charles Gould, Director-General of the Alliance, added, “We thank the European Commission for electing the Alliance as a civil society partner. We are pleased that the global structure of the International Co-operative Alliance—its membership, its governance, its organization—but also the purpose and impact of its actions have convinced the European Commission that cooperatives are a lever for sustainable development.”

The 2012 EU Communication, "Europe’s Engagement with Civil Society in External Relations," formally recognized cooperatives as being a distinct civil society actor. This had been achieved after years of bilateral relations by Alliance regions within the consultative EU Policy Forum on Development.

Framework Partnership Agreements (FPAs) lay down terms for European Union support for Civil Society Organizations, which are acknowledged to be pivotal actors of governance and key contributors to policy-making. Laying out long-term cooperation between the EU and civil society umbrella organizations, FPAs give civil society organizations the means to fill in this role. They are to cover areas such as social inclusion and economic empowerment, areas in which cooperatives play a fundamental role.


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