The importance of the horse and the industry that underpins it in our society has increased dramatically in recent years. While this development has been evident on a global basis there remains a high concentration of the sport in Europe. We may or may not have influenced this level of development in our generation but it is the case that our sport has many of its roots and its history planted in Europe.
In light of this development in Europe we have frequently discussed the need to improve the quality of communication between our National Federations (NFs). As a consequence, a number of NFs proposed the foundation of a European organisation to consider and debate issues of common concern, to find agreeable solutions and to introduce them professionally, and sensitively, into the decision-making processes of the relevant bodies. Having talked about the challenges of effective communication for some time, the solution came rather quickly!
In September 2009, in Antwerp (BEL), the need to establish a European Equestrian Federation (EEF) was agreed, first as a “forum” and then as a “federation”. The foundation of the EEF in Antwerp was quickly followed by the formal agreement of the EEF’s statues; these were signed by the 28 NFs present in February 2010 at a meeting in Warendorf (GER).
The EEF quickly determined to fulfil its work in identifying issues of concern and establishing ad hoc working groups, drawing on experts, to look at identified challenges and come up with recommendations for consideration by the bodies best equipped to take action. It was agreed that these working groups would have a short life span. However, one permanent working group was established: the European Union Working Group. The impact of the European Union’s legislation on sport and the safe use of horses for sport, breeding and recreation in Europe is considerable and thus a long term and positive relationship with the European Union, both at the Commission and in the Parliament, was an important step for the EEF to take. We already had good relations with the European Union but these will be enhanced as we lobby for our interests in this area with other groups working in the field of sport and agriculture.
We are working in very close cooperation with the FEI and will always strive to do so in a spirit of partnership and cooperation. As we improve our communications within Europe we will be able to find better solutions to challenges than has been the case. We will also act with the same spirit in working positively with NFs outside Europe.
The EEF is not a closed shop. We are open for all stakeholders who want to contribute. The NFs of Europe need to work with Non-European nations and the FEI in support of our sport in joining together and continuing to secure our place in the Olympic Family. Similarly, it is important for the European NFs to provide a welcome home for the equestrian athletes of the wider world who come to Europe to live, or stay for short periods, to train and compete. This is a win-win situation for all and provides an excellent basis for development and mutual co-operation.
We look forward to having a close cooperation with the other continental associations, recognised by the FEI, the Asian Equestrian Federation (AEF) and the Pan American Equestrian Confederation (PAEC).
And last but not least, I am personally very much looking forward to an even closer cooperation with the breeding associations, particularly WBFSH who share a common goal with us: to care for a good life with horses and for them to have a good life with us.
I invite you all to work with us! You are more than welcome!