BRUSSELS, Belgium—A report adopted April 22 by the European Parliament promoting the value of volunteerism and designating 2011 as the European Year of Volunteering contained what is thought to be the first formal definition of credit unions to be included in a European Union document. The definition was added as the result of lobbying efforts by World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU).
Authored by Marian Harkin, the European Parliament Rapporteur and an Irish member of the European Democrats Party, the report includes a reference to the role credit unions play with regards to volunteerism and reads as follows:
"...(W)hereas volunteers play an important role in achieving the Lisbon Strategy goal of socio-economic cohesion by contributing to financial inclusion, for example, by establishing credit unions which are regulated and not for profit financial cooperatives, run and governed by volunteers."
The reference, supported by WOCCU in collaboration with consulting firm Policy Action Ltd., is the first formal reference in an official European Union document that defines credit union ownership and governance. The reference makes possible use of this report to influence other EU decision-makers, according to Dave Grace, WOCCU's vice president of Association Services.
"The reference to credit unions is part of a much larger, further-reaching document on the importance of volunteerism with European Union countries," Grace said. "Thanks to Marian Harkin's efforts, this is a big step forward for credit unions."
World Council of Credit Unions is the global trade association and development agency for credit unions. World Council promotes the sustainable development of credit unions and other financial cooperatives around the world to empower people through access to high quality and affordable financial services. World Council advocates on behalf of the global credit union system before international organizations and works with national governments to improve legislation and regulation. Its technical assistance programs introduce new tools and technologies to strengthen credit unions' financial performance and increase their outreach.
World Council has implemented more than 290 technical assistance programs in 71 countries. Worldwide, 57,000 credit unions in 105 countries serve 217 million people. Learn more about World Council's impact around the world at www.woccu.org.