History of the OCE

author: Mirelle Lourly, Maria Louise Lenk-Schäfer

The European Union at a Glance

In 1957 Belgium, The Federal Republic of Germany, France, Italy, Luxemburg and The Netherlands signed the TREATY OF ROME establishing the EUROPEAN ECONOMIC COMMUNITY (E.E.C.), a SINGLE Common Market: an area without frontiers in which free movement of goods, persons, services and capital is ensured, aimed to be completed by 31st December 1992.


THE EEC WORKING PARTY WITHIN THE INTERNATIONAL ORTHOPTIC ASSOCIATION (IOA) Many professionals established contacts with their colleagues in other EEC countries to collect data on their professional situation. In 1963 ophthalmologists founded the UEMS (Union Européenne des Médecins Spécialistes, section monospécialisée d’ophtalmologie) and as early as 1972 advised Miss Barbara LEE (at that time Chairman of the International Orthoptic Association – IOA) that this association would be the body which the EEC would approach for information. Therefore at a preliminary meeting in Florence (Italy) in 1976 a special committee was formed consisting of one representative from each of the nine countries within the EEC whether or not that country had a seat in the Council of Management. Most of the business was to be conducted by post. French being the official language of the EEC the working party was called:


Chairman: Barbara M. LEE (Great Britain) Secretary: Mireille LOULY (France) In 1977 the working party met in London and considered important items based on a “questionnaire” prepared by M. LOULY in 1974 on behalf of the French organisations (SNAO and AFO), then reviewed in 1977 and 1984. The committee lasted for almost 10 years until Great Britain and France questioned the function of the “EEC working Party of the IOA”. In October 1988 the Working Party was resolved and at a closed meeting the following recommendations were made:

  • That national associations of all EEC member countries be requested to send nominations for representatives to an EEC liaison group to M. LOULY who would arrange a meeting at which a French speaking chairman would be elected.
  • That the EEC liaison group will not formally be associated to the IOA.

The representatives present agreed that M. LOULY should contact Monsieur CARSIN, Directorate General 3 – Commission des Professions paramédicales de la Commission Européenne (hereafter DG 3) in Brussels to ask him how to establish an independent orthoptic organisation.


In November 1988 additional information was forwarded to Monsieur CARSIN (Brussels) followed by an official statement on January 20, 1989, that four European countries: France, Great Britain, Italy and West Germany had officially endorsed the establishment of the: OCE: ORTHOPTISTES DE LA COMMUNAUTE EUROPEENNE STANDING LIAISON COMMITTEE OF THE ORTHOPTISTS OF THE EEC In January 1989 M. LOULY started to revise the information on the profession in the EEC by sending the questionnaire (which then became the “Professional Survey”) to all national European orthoptic organizations asking them at the same time to nominate official representatives to the OCE.

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