SOPOT, Poland (1/24/12)--Grzegorz Bierecki, president/CEO of the National Association of Cooperative Savings & Credit Unions (NACSCU), Poland's credit union trade association and a World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) 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 WOCCU's 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 still are 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. He will continue to serve in his capacities with NACSCU and WOCCU.
Bierecki was a former staff member of Lech Wałęsa's Solidarity party, which helped reestablish Poland's credit union movement in partnership with WOCCU 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.
Bierecki's election and new PACE appointment have increased credit unions' public profile in both Poland and throughout Europe, according to WOCCU President/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.