18 Mar 2016
Today, March 18th 2016, representatives from the International Co-operative Alliance and the European Commission signed in Brussels a framework partnership agreement for a global development programme to benefit and advance the co-operative sector worldwide. (Download the Civil Society Partnership press release)
The partnership agreement is to improve, among others, social inclusion and economic empowerment, areas in which co-operatives play a fundamental role. Titled “Co-operatives in development – people-centered businesses in action”, the programme is to run until 31 August 2020. The programme is co-funded by the European Union as part of its commitment to support Civil Society Organisations active in development.
Alliance President Monique Leroux: ”Co-operatives are highly relevant in the realisation of United Nations’ sustainable development goals. 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 programme, is a new step in implementing the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. We are proud and eager to launch the Co-operatives in Development programme.”
Charles Gould, Director-General of the Alliance: “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 co-operatives are a lever for sustainable development.”
The 2012 EU Communication ‘Europe’s engagement with Civil Society in external relations’ formally recognized co-operatives 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 Organisations, which are acknowledged to be pivotal actors of governance and key contributors to policy-making. Laying out long-term co-operation between the EU and civil society umbrella organisations, FPAs give civil society organisations the means to fill in this role. They are to cover areas such as social inclusion and economic empowerment, areas in which co-operatives play a fundamental role.