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Euro Coop General Assembly 2015
Euro Coop General Assembly 2015 -
consumer coops welcome a new member
Brussels, 29 June 2015
The 2015 Annual General Assembly of the European Community of Consumer Co-operatives was hosted by Coop Italy at the EXPO Milano grounds. The meeting began with the President’s Report from Duncan Bowdler, Euro Coop President, who addressed the members on the state of the Association in terms of management, fees, expenditures, and service to members. Overall, Euro Coop is stable, despite members’ numerous challenges on national level.
The past year has seen some tough decisions made in the area of administration, and he would like to thank the Secretary General for showing swift and decisive leadership on all matters arising. Duncan Bowdler plans to engage the Presidency and Board in revising the Association’s membership fee formula, which is not fit for purpose and he is sure that a far better fees structure could be established. On the issue of the Secretariat’s costs, Duncan Bowdler acknowledged that an appropriate balance needs to be established between administration and representation costs, so as to allow for optimized services to members. He also encouraged more input from members, as this would help guide the Secretariat in their policy work with he EU institutions.
The President’s Report was followed by the Secretary General Update, in which Todor Ivanov spoke about the Secretariat’s activities over the past year and his aims for the rest of 2015 and 2016. It was emphasised to members that the Secretariat is there to serve their needs and that amplified representation could only be achieved with the appropriate Secretariat structure. Precisely this issue has been the centre of attention during the past one year, and the process of cost optimization is at its end.
The results will allow the Secretariat to double in size, thus significantly increasing the administrative capacity for Euro Coop’s advocacy efforts and its relations with members. Specifically in terms of work with the EU institutions, Ivanov emphasized engaging the European Parliament through reinforced contacts with the MEPs, as well as continuing the stable collaboration with the European Commission. Ivanov concluded, that the ongoing process of cost optimization will open new possibilities for collaboration with the other European co-operative association in Brussels, namely Cooperatives Europe, CECOP, and ICA.
Other than the Statutory financial business, the Assembly officially ratified the membership of Comarine Ltd., a Cypriot consumer co-operative focusing on tourism and travel. Comarine Ltd. will be represented within Euro Coop by its General Manager – Andreas Koumis.
As a final point, Todor Ivanov also gave a presentation on the Supply Chain Initiative, of which Euro Coop is a founding member, and encouraged those members who haven’t already done so to sign up.
General Assembly members in front of Coop Italy's Supermarket of the Future
The following day, Euro Coop held its Seminar on “The Co-operative Difference: Vision and Strategy” in Coop Italy’s ‘Classroom of the Future’ at the EXPO. This classroom has already been visited by thousands of school children who come to learn more about the EXPO and why food sustainability is such an important issue. The Seminar focused on three main themes concerning consumer co-operatives in Europe: the EU institutional perspective of co-operatives and the social economy in general; the importance of the COOP brand and its relationship with members and consumers at large; and the youth and education initiatives members utilize to create added value for the community.
It featured an array of high-profile speakers, including Swedish S&D MEP, Jens Nilsson, who gave a keynote speech on the new European Parliament and the areas of potential cooperation for the co-operative movement. He also touched on his long-held interest and engagement with co-operatives.
Following Mr. Nilsson were several CEOs from amongst Euro Coop’s members, including Mr. Agustín Markaide of Eroski – who spoke about growing your co-operative from the bottom up; Mr. Jan Lundgren of Coop Trading – who explained how cross-border cooperation is working in Scandinavia; and Mr. Jaanus Vihand of Coop Estonia – who emphasised the importance of empowering consumers and meeting their needs in the near and distant future. The final part of the Seminar looked at the co-operative movement’s future, namely through youth, and featured presentations from Mr. Matteo Massari, who spoke about Coop Italy’s “Scuola Coop” Contest; Mr. Mark Robinson-Field, who expounded upon the UK-based Co-operative Group’s “The Truth about Youth” Project, and finally Professor Iiro Jussila from the School of Business & Management at the Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT), Finland, who outlined the importance of co-operative studies at university level and the ever-increasing need to challenge mainstream academics in order to promote the co-operative model.
Euro Coop would like to thank, first and foremost its Vice-President Enrico Migliavacca of ANCC/Coop Italy for the impeccable overall organization and unforgettable hospitality, but our warmest gratitude goes out to all speakers for their inspirational presentations and to all attendees for making the debate very lively and informed.