SOPOT, Poland — Grzegorz Bierecki, president and CEO of the National Association of Cooperative Savings & Credit Unions (NACSCU), Poland's credit union trade association and World Council of Credit Unions member, was named to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). The council is Europe's oldest international parliamentary group and precursor to the European Union. As one of the council's two statutory organs, PACE investigates, recommends and advises European policy development.
Bierecki, who serves as World Council first vice chair, was elected senator in Poland's parliament last year. It was Bierecki's first election to public office.
"The appointment to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe could not come in a more timely fashion," Bierecki said. "While the financial markets are still in turmoil and the world has not yet recovered from the deep crisis, more challenges are ahead for credit unions. There has to be a non-banking voice present in the European forum adding the human dimension to finance."
Bierecki's new roles as senator and one of Poland's 12 representatives to PACE are not considered full-time obligations. The veteran executive will continue to serve in his capacities both with NACSCU and World Council.
Bierecki was a former staff member of Lech Wałęsa's Solidarity party, which helped reestablish Poland's credit union movement in partnership with World Council in 1989. The Polish movement has since grown to one of the world's most successful systems. Poland's 59 credit unions, operating under a unified marketing brand from a central back-office platform, support 1,852 branches and serve 2.2 million members nationwide.
Poland's credit unions pride themselves on effectively representing their members' interests. Bierecki's election and new PACE appointment have increased credit unions' public profile in both Poland and throughout Europe, according to World Council President and CEO Brian Branch.
"Grzegorz Bierecki's appointment to PACE gives European credit unions a strong voice beyond Poland's borders," said Branch, who last year led an engagement program of U.S. credit union league and association executives to NACSCU headquarters to study the Polish credit union system. "As the European credit union movement continues to grow, it can only benefit from increased support at the international parliamentary level."
To help celebrate the 20th anniversary of Poland's credit unions, World Council will hold its 2012 World Credit Union Conference, July 15–18, in Gdańsk, Poland. For more information, visit www.letsgdansk2012.org.
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 103 countries serve 208 million people. Learn more about World Council's impact around the world at www.woccu.org.