ABPCO members question need for European alliance

Members of the Association of British Professional Conference Organisers (ABPCO) have stalled plans to create a Europe-wide alliance with four of its European counterparts. The associations from Britain, Spain, Belgium, and Portugal met at the suggestion of the Hellenic Association of Professional Congress Organisers (HAPCO) in order to discuss the creation of the European Federation of Associations of Professional Congress Organisers (EFAPCO). The alliance would aim to increase the recognition of professional congress organisers within the European Union, and advise on European Union laws affecting the meetings industry. It also pledges to undertake research and provide education and training opportunities to help maintain standards across the industry. But at a recent meeting, APBCO members called for more clarity on how the association would add to the services already provided by bodies such as the International Association of Professional Congress Organisers (IAPCO), the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) and Meetings Professional International (MPI). ABPCO chairman, and proposed vice-president of EFAPCO, Peter Mainprice said: "Before the five associations met we did a review of what these existing bodies already do and we feel there is a real political and commercial reason for EFAPCO." "With new economic regions, such as India and China, moving into the sector, Europe has to protect its market share and I believe it is important for Britain to be represented. Their question is a fair one; they want to know why ABPCO should support this initiative when it is already doing such good work in the UK. But as chairman I have to represent members’ concerns," he added. ABPCO is to put together a paper outlining its concerns and will discuss the issues at its thinktank meeting in March. "We have the support of the other associations, which may well be experiencing similar problems," added Mainprice. EFAPCO was due to be launched during International Confex later this month. Mainprice said: "We will still meet during Confex as it is important to keep the intellectual momentum going, but we are looking at other international events later in the year as alternatives to launch the association when all the pieces of the puzzle are in place."

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