CPLOL 1988-2008 : 28 member countries in 20 years !

Nicole Denni-Krichel, president of the FNO & Jean-Marc Kremer, FNO commissioner for European affairs

Speech given at the 20th anniversary celebration


Ladies and gentlemen,
My dear European friends,

On 7th March 1988, in Paris, the European Liaison Committee for the Speech and Language Therapists/Logopedists was created within the European Economic Community, which became the European Union after the Maastricht Treaty in 1992.
20 years on, we recall the historical background which led to its birth, as well as all the progress made in those 20 years. This very appealing project was intended as a means of exchange and sharing, also for reaching better harmonisation within our profession on a European level, in all its aspects.

From theory to action…

Take yourselves back to the end of the 80’s.
In 1987, the FNO was well established as its national professional federation, and naturally turned to European affairs in a modest way. Until the day when the European Commission in Brussels started work on passing-on a general directive aiming at mutual recognition for university-level diplomas (3 years). Some professional sectors, in particular in the medical field (doctors, nurses, dentists…) already had such directives enabling professional migration between the 12 EEC member countries. The FNO showed interest in this opportunity, and intended to ask, on behalf of the profession, for a sector directive on the same model as the one written for nurses. However, the situation had changed a lot since the 70’s: there was already much talk about the single market, enlargement of the EEC, and about the treaty to be signed in Maastricht in 1992. The European authorities had abandoned the idea to implement, on a theoretical and imposing manner, European harmonisation for each sector, and favoured a pragmatic model including professions in the reflection and the projects. 

The approach chosen by the European Commission became more comprehensive, and a general directive was preferred. The FNO started to analyse the projects, and one night in 1987, some federal council members made a suggestion : « what if we created a European committee for speech and language therapists, to discuss all of this, to get to know each other and facilitate professional and scientific exchange!”. 

A few days later, we used all the means available at the time, to try to find all the names and addresses of the European professional organisations and associations grouping speech and language therapists. The FNO wrote to the European correspondents of all these associations, and the council empowered the board to use the occasion of the 20th anniversary celebration of the FNO and founded in Paris what was to become CPLOL on 6th March 1988, during the “Orthophonie 92” congress themed: “nouvelles frontières (“new borders”)”. A project for a constitutive charter was drafted, and proposed to the countries contacted. It was that simple… With hindsight of course.

And so to work…

12 countries were then part of the EEC. And on 6th March 1988, the representatives of 9 of them signed the charter creating CPLOL in Paris; they were soon joined, at the end of that year, by all the remaining EEC member countries: West Germany (Germany was reunified only 18 months later), Belgium, Denmark, Spain, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, and the United Kingdom. 

Once the charter was signed, and the statutes voted for (Paris GA in October 1988), an executive committee was elected, to lead this “European Federation”. The headquarters were in Paris, using the FNO address; the president was Jacques Roustit (France), the general secretary Jean-Marc Kremer (France), the treasurer Athena Frangouli (Greece), and three vice-presidents were nominated : Marie-Claire Coets (Belgique), for the formation committee, Adoracion Juarez-Sanchez (Spain) for the research committee, and Janny Vonkeman-Breider (the Netherlands) for the professional practice committee. 

The committee was first involved in the project for mutual recognition of diplomas within the EEC, making possible the migrations of professionals between our various countries, and in particular the Single European Act signed in 1992; the directive for the recognition of diplomas came into force on 4th January 1991.

The enthusiasm felt at the beginning encouraged the team to work hard, and rapidly led in the conception and voting on some pioneering documents in the following areas: 

  • Initial training of speech and language therapists in Europe: the early studies showed enormous differences between the member countries: in some of them, speech and language therapists qualified in 2 years, others in 3, 4 or even 5 years… however CPLOL did not only focus on quantity: the contents were analysed and we noticed there was a common core of speech and language therapy/logopaedics skills in Europe, since the only area not present everywhere was written language therapy. It is indeed for socio-political and cultural reasons that in some countries this kind of therapy is taken care of by schools, in which specific professionals work outside the health sector. In other countries, two or three different types of professionals take care of speech and language therapy “matters”, or even more so in the unified Germany where 5 professions form the speech and language therapy workforce... Moreover the heterogeneous initial training lies on various customs, distinct ways and places to practice. And since the European institutions abandoned the idea of imposing a single system as it was too complicated, it is now the responsibility of the field experts to try to harmonise the practice in order to build Europe… This will give CPLOL, after years of work, committees, and questionnaires, the opportunity to vote for resolutions which may be of use to national governments, e.g. the demand for a minimum level of initial training allowing speech and language therapy practise in Europe (minimum standards).
  • Ethics: in many countries, there was no regulatory framework in matters relating to professional rules, ethics and deontology, which is paradoxical for a health profession. CPLOL decided to write a European Ethical Charter, voted for unanimously in 1992.
  • Professional practice: many countries did not have specific regulations concerning our profession. CPLOL decided to write a « common European professional profile », which records the principles, the mission and the framework of our discipline, this profile being used now as a base to support national legal causes.
  • Research and Documentation: bringing together professionals is also about sharing knowledge, research, and dedicated literature; this is the reason why a committee was created, which attempts to gather documents on a European level; this work became the bibliographical database, after UNADREO (then called UNADRIO) joined CPLOL. CPLOL also created a committee on terminology, which compiled a common glossary listing linguistic equivalents. French and English being the two official languages of CPLOL, we noticed very rapidly that literal translations, are not only incomplete, but also may lead to fundamental misinterpretations. Finally, the committee was in charge of organising their first European scientific congress, firstly in Athens in 1992: then in Antwerp in 1994, Lisbon 1997, Paris in 2000, Edinburgh in 2003 and Berlin in 2006 (the 2009 congress will be held in Ljubljana, Slovenia). Of course CPLOL publishes documents, reports and the proceedings for these congresses.
  • In 1995 the committee on prevention was created. A large study followed, ending in 1999 with a report on the Prevention of Speech and Language Therapy disorders in Europe. Since then, the “European Day” aimed at the public has taken place every year in March, around a particular theme. The first one was organised on 14th November 1996.
  • In 2005, Continuous Professional Development became an issue in itself and is now treated separately within CPLOL.

The member countries of CPLOL

9 countries were represented in Paris on March 6th 1988, and signed the constitutive charter of CPLOL. As early as 1989, 12 EEC member countries were present within CPLOL. Since then, every year, more countries have come to support CPLOL, often as an observer member at first (Switzerland, Scandinavian countries…). In 1995, Austria, Finland and Sweden joined the newly named European Union, and naturally became members of CPLOL. And because the geography, borders and History of our old continent regularly changed during the 90’s, we could then count nineteen CPLOL countries in 1998.
2004 and 2007 were milestone-years marking the enlargement of the European Union: during which time CPLOL naturally grew as well.

The following are current members of CPLOL: 28 countries (31 organisations)

  •  Germany : Deutscher Bundesverband für Logopädie (DBL)
  • Austria: Bundesverband Diplomierte Logopädinnen Oesterreich (BDLO)
  • Belgium: Union Professionnelle des Logopèdes Francophones (UPLF) et Vlaamse Verening voor Logopedisten (VVL)
  • Bulgaria : Bulgarian National Association of Logopedics (BNAL)
  • Cyprus: Cyprus SLT-SLP Association (C SLT-SLP Association)
  • Denmark : Audiologopaedisk Forening (ALF)
  • Spain : Associacion de Logopedia Espanola (ALE)
  • Estonia : Estonian Logopedists Union (ELU)
  • Finland: Suomen Puheterapeuttiliitto (SP)
  • France: Fédération Nationale des Orthophonistes (FNO) et Union Nationale pour le Développement de la Recherche et de l’Evaluation en Orthophonie (UNADREO)
  • Greece : Panhellenios Syllogos Logopedikon (PSL)
  • Ireland : Irish Association of Speech and Language Therapists (IASLT)
  • Iceland: Félag Talkennara og Talmeinagfraedinga (FTT)
  • Italy: Federazione Logopedisti Italiana (FLI)
  • Latvia: Latvijas Logopedu Asociacija (LLA)
  • Luxembourg : Association Luxembourgeoise des Orthophonistes (ALO)
  • Malta : Association of Speech-Language Pathologists Malta (ASLPM)
  • Norway: Norsk Logopedlag (NL)
  • The Netherlands: Nederlandse Verening voor Logopedie en Foniatra (NVLF)
  • Poland: Polski Zwiazek Logopedow (PZL)
  • Portugal: Associaçao Portuguesa Terapeutas da Fala (APTF)
  • Czech Republic : Association of Clinic Logopedists of Cezch Republic (ACLCR)
  • United Kingdom: Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT)
  • Slovakia: Slovenska Asociacia Logopedov (SAL)
  • Slovenia: Drustvo Logopedov Slovenije (DLS)
  • Sweden: Svenska Logoped Förbundet (SLF)
  • Switzerland: Association Romande des Logopédistes Diplômés (ARLD)
  • Croatia (observer member) : Hrvatsko Logopedsko Drustvo (HLD)

The organisation of CPLOL

CPLOL is lead by an executive committee composed of 7 people. Here is the current membership:

  • - President : Birgitta Rosen-Gustafsson (Sweden)
  • - General Secretary: Aileen Patterson (United Kingdom)
  • - Treasurer : Joe Reynolds (United Kingdom)
  • - Vice-president Training : Pirkko Rautakoski (Finland)
  • - Vice-president Professional Practice: Maria Christopoulo (Cyprus)
  • - Vice-president Scientific Congresses : Hanneke Kalf (the Netherlands)
  • - Vice-president Recognition Committee: Bent E. Kjaer (Denmark).

The members of the Executive Committee are elected every 2 years, for a maximum of 3 times at the same position.
The General Assembly of CPLOL usually convenes every other year; it is the deliberative and governing body of our organisation; each member country participates in it (the observer members however cannot vote), and each country has the right to two voting representatives. 

Along with the GA there are two commissions (since 2003) replacing the previously formed 4 commissions: the commission for Education and the commission for Professional Practice. Following a request from France, another commission was created which currently examines a project to reform the functioning and the structure of CPLOL, adapting to the Europe of today. 

The commissions convene twice a year ; they each have to be split into 3 or 4 smaller working groups in order to be able to cover every topical issue on the agenda. Having to use both official languages (French and English) and the time-consuming but necessary translations mean the sessions are indisputably lengthened, and may have caused some ambiguities, misunderstandings and incomprehension… speech and language therapists are very well placed to measure all the effort necessary for more efficient communication.

What are the current objectives of CPLOL ?

- To represent the member professional organisations to the European and international political, parliamentary and administrative authorities.

- To promote, within member countries of the EU:
       · Freedom of movement and the right of members of the profession to practise in the countries of the EU
       · The co-ordination of conditions for the practice of speech and language therapy/logopaedics
       · The equivalence of qualifications;
       · The harmonisation of legislation relating to the profession
       · The exchange of scientific knowledge and research in the fields of speech and language therapy/logopaedics
       · The harmonisation of standards and quality of initial training and continuing education

- To study regulations and decisions made by European authorities affecting Speech and Language Therapy/Logopaedics, and to submit projects and proposals to these authorities

- To promote meetings with EU liaison committees representing other professions, which have common interests with Speech and Language Therapists – Logopedists. 

- To provide assistance to member associations if the proposals made are of common interest. 

- To organise European scientific congresses for Speech and Language Therapists – Logopedists. 

- To publish any scientific and professional material consistent with the CPLOL mission and the interest of the profession. 

- To have contacts with professional and scientific organisations of speech and language therapists world-wide. 

- To study and publish any document relating to European Speech and Language Therapy. 

- To provide expert advice in Speech and Language Therapy/Logopaedics to any political, parliamentary of administrative authority or any recognised association which would request it.

- To facilitate the development of the profession by taking new organisations into membership.

The presidents of CPLOL 

Since the initiative to found CPLOL was taken by the FNO, its president Jacques Roustit became president of CPLOL on March 6th 1988, up to the first ordinary General Assembly held in Paris in 1989. He was then elected by a statutory vote, for 3 consecutive mandates (which is the maximum allowed by the statutes), until the General Assembly held in Luxembourg on May 1995. His successor was Ben Mondelaers, from the Netherlands, who became president for two mandates until 1999. Then Germany, with Linda Schrey-Dern, provided a president for CPLOL until 2005, when Birgitta Rosen-Gustafsson from Sweden, took this responsibility. The next ordinary general assembly when elections will take place is to be held in 2009.

The future 

The ambition of 1988 to create a European organisation for speech and language therapists/ logopedists based on the EEC model matched the challenge; not only did CPLOL manage to raise the enthusiasm in each of our countries, but also CPLOL took the challenge of increasing its membership to 28, following the enlargement of the European Union. Of course we think that some organisational issues arose as a consequence, forcing us to address some problems concerning the structure or the system of representation, keeping in mind the objectives set by the « founder creators » of CPLOL.
Should CPLOL become a mere tool for lobbying European Institutions, promoting one point of view on the profession, sending official representatives throughout Europe and beyond, or could it and should it remain a solid federation, grouping professional organisations, with firm policy direction; a federation representative and sensitive to all its members, with clear aims towards the harmonisation of the profession in every aspect, respecting the efforts made by one another? This is the “ideological” issue our 28 members have to address now. 

The future of our profession within the European Union will probably depend on this choice, along with its harmonisation, statutes, its missions and its place within our society which generates more and more social inequalities. And we understand the consequences they have on the way people master linguistic skills, and in particular people in more fragile and unstable environments. 

However we remain optimistic. The young and vigorous future generation of speech and language therapists in Europe will have to develop even further the initial training, a harmonious and dynamic practice, and implement the necessary specific field of research. 

Thank you again to all the founders and creators of CPLOL, and good luck to our European federation.
Thank you again to all the founders and creators of CPLOL, and good luck to our European federation.

Please allow me to give my warmest thanks for their precious help to Minaze Mamode, secretary of FNO - and our translators, Frédérique Brin-Henry, Françoise Bonniol, Marcia Beer and Maya Duburch-Pétin who recently joined us.