On Wednesday 5 October 2011 the co-operative movement represented by Dame Pauline Green, President of the International Co-operative Alliance, and Klaus Niederländer, Director of Cooperatives Europe together with the Fair Trade movement represented by Ian Bretman, Executive Vice-Chair of the Board of Fairtrade Labelling International, and Sergi Corbalan, Director of Fair Trade Advocacy Office, met the EU Commissioner for Development, Mr Andris Piebalgs.
“A fruitful meeting” commented Dame Pauline Green, President of the ICA, “together with Fair Trade organizations we presented the Commissioner with our growing capacity to create enterprises and employment thanks to our worldwide co-operative network. The Commissioner has recognized the importance of our two movements in development and opened the door to concrete partnerships in the future to improve the impact of the EU development strategy around the world”.
The European Commission is currently reviewing its development strategy, focusing on inclusive growth and sustainable development through enhanced partnership with the private sector.
Co-operative enterprises and Fair Trade Organizations have a longstanding experience as global development actors focusing on economic as well as social development around the world. Together, they aim to increase their voice and to provide constructive inputs with regard to developing and implementing a more effective and efficient EU development strategy.
Cooperatives Europe/ICA and the Fair Trade Advocacy Office have joined forces as natural partners sharing the same development philosophy : only a private sector which balances the economic, social and environmental needs of its stakeholders can achieve sustainable development and inclusive growth, thus contributing to efficient and long term people empowerment. The co-operative business model, one that puts people and not financial capital at the heart of its business, responds effectively to these needs.
“Co-operatives and Fair Trade have long decades of experience in developing sustainable businesses, and we could do much more with improved coordination with the EU” said Dame Pauline Green. “On the one hand, we can contribute to the EU’s new strategy with practical links with our grassroots co-operatives ; on the other hand, we can be a strong partner for EU Institutions in the implementation of those policies as we can rely on a strong worldwide network of co-operative organizations”.
“This collaboration with the Fair Trade Advocacy Office will enable our organizations to capitalize on each other’s competences and resources” said Klaus Niederländer, Director of Cooperatives Europe.
Since 2008 Cooperatives Europe has an established network of members engaged in development ; the work of the network is co-ordinated by Marc Noel and, in collaboration with the EU Delegation and the local Civil Society, it is currently implementing a programme on developing the co-operative economy in Montenegro.