BRUSSELS, Belgium (5/2/08)--A report adopted April 22 by the European Parliament on volunteerism contains the first formal definition of credit unions to be included in a European Union (EU) document. The definition was added as a result of lobbying efforts by the 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 promotes the value of volunteerism and designates 2011 as the European Year of Volunteering. It includes a reference to the role credit unions play with regards to volunteerism. The reference reads: "…(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 was supported by WOCCU in collaboration with consulting firm Policy Action Ltd. It is the first formal reference in an official EU document that defines credit union ownership and governance. It makes possible the use of the 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."