The beginning

Following the invitation by Professor Z. Maricic and Professor I. Padovan, a meeting amongst some of the Directors of European Cancer Institutes was convened in Dubrovnik, Yugoslavia, on 14 May 1979. Under the chairmanship of the then President of the UICC, Professor Umberto Veronesi, and despite significant political, economic and linguistic differences existing in Europe, the Organisation of European Cancer Institutes “OECI” was founded with an enthusiastic belief in an enlarged European cooperation. Since its establishment, the OECI elected an Executive Board with the mandate to appoint a Programme Committee and a Membership Committee for the careful evaluation of future membership.
The first meeting of the General Assembly of the OECI took place on 18-20 May 1980 in Rhodes, Greece, and the discussion for a European cooperative programme began. The OECI activities were closely linked with the UICC, believing that from this alliance both organisations would derive notable benefits. The Organisation has grown in keeping with the basic philosophy on which it was created: improvement of communication and a growing cooperation between cancer institutes all over the European continent.

A new direction

In 2005, the Organisation was remodeled into OECI-EEIG - Organisation of European Cancer Institutes, European Economic Interest Grouping, in step with the ongoing developments in Europe.
The office was headquartered in the heart of Brussels, at the Fondation Universitaire, located in rue d’Egmont, with a mandate of finding “new and better treatments, providing more comprehensive care and improving patients’ quality of life supported by evidence- based medicine with a holistic approach”.
The OECI regroups today many European cancer research and care centres - both large and small- from a notable number of European countries, many of which have only recently become EU members. Diversity is an asset to the OECI, and neither a cause for discrimination nor fragmentation.
Larger centres may well use the OECI network to become more competitive, but they must take upon themselves the responsibility of finding ways to share their expertise with the less economically favored centres, or countries, in order to contribute to the provision of equitable access to treatments throughout Europe.

The OECI today

After almost 50 years from its foundation, the OECI still provides the best forum for the directors of member institutes to meet regularly, to exchange views, and to formulate plans for future, inter-institutional collaborative ventures. It provides the right setting and the appropriate note of informality to overcome the political or cultural barriers, which even today sometimes risk frustrating a true and comprehensive working relationship amongst the main players of the European cancer community.