The History of CPME


Over the last six decades, the huge increase in European legislation relating to medicine and the medical profession has broadened the CPME activities far beyond the compelling problems with which its founders were faced, namely the impact of the concept of free movement of physicians to practice in the member states of the European Community. This has meant engagement as “the patient’s advocate”, a role often referred to in CPME debates, in addition to safeguarding the standards of the medical profession in sustaining its role and functions in the European Community. 


The “Comité Permanent des Médecins de la C.E.E.”(CP), currently CPME was founded in Amsterdam in 1959 by the original Six National Medical Associations (NMAs) of the Member States of the European Economic Community. All of these NMAs were members of the World Medical Association (WMA). They were: Confédération des Syndicats Médicaux Français (France), Bundesärztekammer (Germany), Federazione Nazionale degli Ordini dei Medici Chirurghi e degli Odontoiatri (Italy), Association des Médecins & Médecins-Dentistes du Grand-Duché de Luxembourg (Luxemburg), Koninklijke Nederlandsche Maatschappij tot bevordering der Geneeskunst (Netherlands), Fédération Médicale Belge (Belgium) (until 1964, thereafter Féderation National des Chambres Syndicales des Médecins de Belgique) (A.S.B.I.). 

From the earliest meetings a representative of the Austrian Medical Association and a representative of the WMA were present as Observers. They were joined by the British Medical Association in 1961 and soon after by the NMAs of those countries with applications to join the EEC. In the later1960’s these included Denmark, Ireland and Norway. Thereafter this procedure of observer status was used for those NMAs whose countries were seeking membership of the EC. 

Later periods of the CPME 

Starting in the early 8o’s, in one sense, the most important event relating to health in the EU in this period was the formal reference to Public Health in Title X, article 185 of the Treaty of Maastricht (1993) – the first time that actions in the health field had been mentioned in the European Treaties- and the inclusion of an article in Title XI on Consumer Protection. The political changes in Europe the early 90’s and the rather later enlargements of the Community were also to impact on the CPME and its organisation. 

Meanwhile, in this period the CPME had continued to enlarge its membership, first from nine to twelve and then fifteen, plus many observers, most of whom later became members. 


Although already dealing with an enlarged agenda in the early ‘80s and 90’s subsequent events, notably the establishment of DG SANCO in the late 90’s, increased the workload on the CPME in responding to EU policies and activities even more. In addition the CPME had already extended its activities to include issues arising from organisations outside the EU including the Council of Europe, WHO, GATS negotiations etc. in the late 70’s and early 80’s. In a globalising world, towards the end of the 20th century and beyond, the incidence of diseases such as AIDS in the 80’s, SARS in 2003 and MRSA, as well as rapidly increasing scientific developments such as those arising from genetic research and the genome project, have raised more clinical and ethical problems. 

All of this has been in addition to the expanding work of the EU in Information Technology and more recently on eHealth, which requires considerable CPME engagement. 

A Brussels Office 

The effect of these and other developments was to renew the long standing debates (over at least thirty years) concerning the establishment of a Brussels-based office with a permanent secretariat, and the abandonment of the concept of provision of a secretariat as the responsibility of the NMA of the rotating Presidency. The work on reviewing and consolidating the CPME’s position started in 1992. It developed by way of establishing a Brussels office and staff, a Board and an Executive Committee and ultimately an employed Secretary General. These major decisions reflected the increasing achievement by the CPME over the preceding decades of its aim to respond to and influence developments in the European Community. 

2000 and beyond 

The CPME today, has a Brussels office and is registered as an International Association under Belgian Law. It has a membership of 27 NMAs, 2 Associate Members, 3 Observers and 9 Associated Organisations. 

One look at its website today shows its engagement with other European Medical bodies and its policies, statements and decisions. 

The CPME is involved with its experts from NMAs in many European Institutions groups and projects, but also in EU bodies and agencies, like the European Prevention and Disease Control Centre, the European Medicines Agency or the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA). 

Next to the involvement in EU Health POLICY, the CPME also participates actively in EU funded projects and – together with Member States – in so called Joint Actions. This work aims at actively shaping future practice in health care and public health while delivering the view of the medical profession. The work on PROJECTS and in Joint Actions span from eHealth, over work force and patient safety to finance of health care. 

All of this recognises the importance attached to its opinions, demonstrates the significance of the CPME’s work, its growth in stature and its influence over the past fifty years. 

Currently, professional qualifications and freedom of movement for healthcare professionals are still among the main policies of interest. Directive 2005/36/EC which deals with professional qualifications is in the process of being revised, while at CPME this is considered the cornerstone for free movement of doctors as it provides automatic recognition of professional qualifications. CPME is engaged to ensure free movement of doctors as well as patient safety and is involved in the current legislative revisions. 


CPME Presidents 

2016-2018: Dr Jacques de Haller (Switzerland) 

2013-2015: Dr Katrin Fjeldsted (Iceland) 

2010-2012: Dr Konstanty Radziwill (Poland) 

2008-2009: Dr Michael Wilks (United Kingdom) 

2006-2007: Dr Daniel Mart (Luxembourg) 

2004-2005: Dr Bernhard Grewin (Sweden) 

2002-2003: Dr Reiner Brettenthaler (Austria) 

2000-2001: Dr Markku Äârimaa (Finland) 

1998-2000: Professor John van Londen (Netherlands) 

1995-1997: Dr Emmanuel Kalokerinos (Greece) 

1992-1994: Professor Manuel Machado Macedo (Portugal) 

1989-1991: Dr Alberto Berguer (Spain) 

1986-1988: Dr Karsten Vilmar (Germany) 

1983-1985: Dr Joseph Monier (France) 

1980-1982: Dr P A Farrelly (Ireland) 

1977-1979: Professor Erik Holst (Denmark) 

1974-1976: Mr W Lewin (United Kingdom) 

1971-1973: Dr A Spinelli (Italy) 

1968-1970: Dr A Wynen (Belgium) 

1965-1967: Professor Dr Ernst Fromm (Germany) 

1962-1964: Dr C Landheer (Netherlands) 

1959-1961: Dr J Joncheres (France) 

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