Every year the President provides a report to the Council of Delegates, our senior governing body, about the events of the previous year. This year the Council will meet at the World Congress of Neurology and I shall report as follows.
The foundation of the European Academy of Neurology
The officers of the EFNS and ENS signed a legal agreement at the opening ceremony of our Budapest Congress in 2011 according to which the EFNS and the ENS will cease to exist and the European Academy of Neurology (EAN) will be created. It will come into being on June 3rd, 2014 in Istanbul at the joint Congress of EFNS and ENS when the General Assembly of 45 national delegates (now the EFNS Council) and 45 elected individual members (from the former ENS) will elect the EAN Board. The transition task force have appointed an election organising committee consisting of its own members supplemented by the Presidents of the EFNS and ENS and one other member of each organsation to oversee the election process. A call for nominations for Board members will be sent out in October 2013. It will consist of seven elected members: President, vice-President, Secretary General, Treasurer, Member at large, Liaison Committee Chairperson, and a Scientific Committee Chairperson and two appointed members, the Chairpersons of the Education and Congress Programme Committees.
The Transition Task Force continues to work hard to ensure a smooth start to the EAN and take care of arrangements from 2015 to 2017 which need forward planning, such as congresses, teaching courses and fellowships. The Transition Task Force consists of Professors Jacques De Reuck, Belgium, Past President, Detlef Kömpf, Germany, Secretary General, and Gunhild Waldemar, Chair Liaison Committee, for the EFNS and Professors José Ferro, Portugal, Past President, Gustave Moonen, Belgium, Secretary General, and Claudio Bassetti, Switzerland, President, for the ENS. We thank them all, especially Professors De Reuck and Moonen who initiated the process.
In 2012 our Swedish hosts chaired by Professor Sten Fredrikson and congress programme committee chaired by Professor Nils Erik Gilhus, Norway, organised a splendid Congress in Stockholm attended by 5,500 delegates, including a visit to the City Hall where Nobel prize winners dine, bringing us as close as most of us are ever likely to get to a Nobel Prize.
Here now in Vienna we are honoured to co-host the World Congress of Neurology with the Austrian Neurological Society (Österreichische Gesellschaft für Neurologie – ÖGN) and the World Federation of Neurology.
In May 31 – June 3, 2014, we will hold the already mentioned joint EFNS-ENS congress in Istanbul. The programme has already been decided by the congress programme committee consisting of the co-chairs Professors Jacques De Reuck and Gustave Moonen, Belgium, with Hannah Cock, UK, Michael Brainin, Austria, Nils Erik Gilhus, Norway, Jean-Marc Léger, France, Guido Stoll, Germany, and Axel Siva and Ersin Tan, Turkey. Work has already started on the programme for the first EAN Congress in Berlin in June 20-23, 2015. In May 2016 we will hold our congress in Copenhagen, and in June 2017 in Amsterdam.
As usual the Management Committee met in Vienna in March 2013 and following your approval at the last Council meeting will continue in office until the formation of the EAN. They will hold their final meeting in Vienna in March 2014. The following have been the major points of our business.
Our budget for 2011 showed a deficit of 277,430 Euros instead of the usual profit. The Management Committee introduced savings, regrettably including a cutback in bursaries and fellowships. Consequently in 2012 we have swung back into profit with income 3,895,663 Euros, expenditure 3,797,440 Euros, a surplus of 77,560 Euros (taking gains on interest on the one hand, but depreciation and corporate tax on the other hand into account). Our income is dependent on our profit from our Congress. We will inevitably have a substantial deficit in 2013 when we will not have our own Congress, although we will share approximately 25% of the profit from the World Congress of Neurology. We do have sufficient cash reserves to meet this deficit. From 2014 onwards our finances will be managed in conjunction with the ENS.
Our eBrain e-learning programme has >500 modules covering the full range of the clinical neurosciences. The eBrain team led by Professor Simon Shorvon, UK, and including our representative Professor Thomas Berger, Austria, continue to have the programme peer-reviewed and expanded. It is the largest such programme in the world. eBrain will be available at the World Congress of Neurology exhibition in the EFNS booth (number 13) throughout the exhibition times. Feedback through the eBrain website from national delegates and members is encouraged.
The teaching programme in Central and Eastern Europe has continued with the popular Spring School in Staré Splavy, Czech Republic under the aegis of Professor Pavel Kalvach and regional teaching courses in Odessa, Ukraine and Ohrid, FYRO Macedonia. Plans for 2014 are in place and are being developed for the transition period 2015 to 2017, when they will then come under the purview of the EAN Board.
The programme of interdepartmental visits and training fellowships has been kept at the reduced level of 40 interdepartmental visits and 9 fellowships because of the financial situation. Both receive enthusiastic feedback from participants.
The scientific committee oversees the activities of 24 scientist panels covering most of the neurological specialties. Under the chairmanship of Professor Michael Brainin, Austria, they face a formidable task in updating the subject material and coping with change in the international standards for conducting systematic reviews and making unbiased scientifically sound recommendations. They have appointed a guideline production group which is working on 19 guidelines; in 2013, 4 new guidelines are being published. Several task forces are working on updates of their previously published guidelines.
The liaison committee (Chair Gunhild Waldemar) is tasked with ensuring that we communicate appropriately with more than 20 European and international organisations. We especially value our collaboration with the European Federation of Neurological Associations (EFNA), now chaired by Audrey Craven, which represents the European organisations of people with neurological diseases, and the European Brain Council (EBC), which consists of ourselves, EFNA and other European professional neuroscience organisations. We have also joined the new Alliance for Biomedical Research in Europe (Biomed Alliance) which is lobbying the EU to increase its spend on biomedical research. We congratulate Professor Gustave Moonen, secretary-general of the ENS and member of the Transition Task Force, on his election as a Director of the Biomed Alliance.
The European Commission organised a Month of the Brain in May under the Presidency of the Irish Government. Some of us attended conferences in Brussels on “European Brain Research” on May 14 and Dublin on May 26-27 on “Healthy brain: Healthy Europe” where I chaired a session on “The Brain Challenge”. Thanks to many of you, European neurological organisations and national societies held 11 events under the aegis of the European Month of the Brain during May. Not content with a Month of the Brain, the European Brain Council is considering launching a Year of the Brain soon.
Professor Erich Schmutzhard, Austria, has taken over chair of our Africa task force and supervised a successful teaching course in Dakar Senegal in July 2013. Plans are being pursued for a further course in Africa in 2014.
The European Journal of Neurology is owned by the EFNS and will become the journal of the EAN under the current chief editor, Professor Anthony Schapira, UK. The EAN may at their discretion appoint an additional chief editor. Our contract with Wiley expires at the end of 2014 and bids from publishers to publish the European Journal of Neurology thereafter are being considered by the Transition Task Force and the Presidents of the EFNS and ENS.
Our electronic newsletter NEUROPENEWS edited by Vice-President Professor Gian Luigi Lenzi, Italy, and Professor David Vodušek, Slovenia, is becoming a joint publication with the ENS and Professor Christian Krarup, Denmark and Professor José Ferro, Portugal, have joined the editorial board. Please read it and contribute.
We thank our hardworking committees, their chairs, our excellent staff and especially our Executive Director Ms Lisa Müller for making the EFNS such an efficient, enjoyable and friendly organisation. Our staff will continue working for the new organisation, the EAN, and we wish them every success under their new managers.