Going international

The process of changing EFI’s legal status from a Finnish association to an international organisation established by European countries lasted for eight years.

The 5th Annual Conference in Zvolen, Slovakia in 1998 authorised the Board and the Secretariat to investigate the issue of internationalisation. The Finnish government prepared a draft convention with EFI in 2000–2001, and more than 20 countries then actively participated in refining the text to reach wording which would be acceptable to all. 

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Negotiations on the EFI Convention took place in Helsinki in March 2003

Five years later on 28 August 2003 at the 10th anniversary Annual Conference, 12 countries signed the Convention on EFI in Joensuu. A further eight countries signed the Convention at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Helsinki by 28 November 2003.

After signing, the Convention needed to be ratified by eight countries before it entered into force – and the eighth country, Spain, ratified the Convention in July 2005.

The switchover from association to international organisation then formally took place at the 12th Annual Conference in Barcelona, Spain on 8 September 2005. The Dissolving Conference of the EFI Association was held on 9 December 2005 at the EFI Headquarters. A small group of five EFI member organisations signed the document, as the final administrative task of the EFI Association.

fergal_mulloy_250.jpg : 59Kb “Many occasions are described as ‘defining moments’ but are not normally so defined until after the event. The 28 August 2003, EFI’s Annual Conference day, was one such occasion; even without the hindsight of a decade. On that day the long-awaited international convention that would launch EFI into a new organisational orbit was rolled out to the launching pad. It took two more years, however, for eight national governments to ratify the Convention before lift-off could occur.

The process of getting an international convention from good idea to fruition is never easy. Happily the concept had the commitment and encouragement of the Finnish Government devoting the services of its Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry with their considerable diplomatic and professional skills to achieve a non-controversial and effective international convention. I was privileged to have been part of that process as a team member of EFI."
Fergal Mulloy, Chair of the Board 2001-2003