I have just received from UCC/ANIMA (Unione Costruttori Caldareria, the Italian Pressure Equipment Manufacturers’ Association of the ANIMA federation, the actual operating agent of EPERC-AISBL) the agenda of the next meeting of this association, to be held in Milan on April 3rd 2014. One of the points on the agenda is the following: “Dissolution of the Association EPERC- AISBL“. Well, when an association is completely useless, the best thing to do is to dissolute it (you could possibly use less gentle words: to disband, to delete, to eliminate, to kill, possibly with the relevant elimination – dissolution – cancellation – assassination of all responsible people, starting with the President, the board of directors, the secretary, and all the employees and workers, if any). Then you can collect all the documents concerned (letters, technical bulletins, conference reports, meeting agendas), bring them to the proper disposal facilities and proceed to disrupt – destroy – eliminate them, so that also the memory of EPERC-AISBL is dissolved – cancelled – disrupted – destroyed, and no one in the world will ever remember anything concerning this stupid and useless association.
But why the said stupid and useless association was created? Just to copy the Americans with their Pressure Vessel Research Council and the Japanese with their Japan Pressure Vessel Research Council? Looking in the Statute of EPERC-AISBL we read:
“The main objective of the Association is to develop the European Industry of pressure equipment (manufacturers and users) through research. Other objective of the Association are:
Its mission is to coordinate and promote the common technical interests and strategies of the European pressure equipment and related industry in relation to European institutions and the international community”.
This was more or less the same program of work of the old EPERC (not yet –AISBL): certainly an ambitious one. But let’s look at some historical data. Founded in 1995 under the auspices of the European Commission, the former EPERC in the year 2000 was organised in several task forces:
TTF1 Fatigue Design
TTF2 High Strength Steels
TTF3 Harmonisation of Inspection Programming in Europe
TTF4 Flanges and Gaskets
TTF5 Service Integrity and Life Extension
TTF6 Tanks for Alternative Fuels
TTF7 Hydrogen Damage
At that time EPERC was only a “de facto” association, and its operating agent was the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission. In 2003 EPERC had more than 300 members (individuals or organisations). Several technical documents (Bulletins) have been produced in those years, on Flanges, High Strength Steels, etc. Obviously the entry into force of the Pressure Equipment Directive (2002) has decreased the interest of the Commission in supporting EPERC. Having thus lost also the support of JRC, EPERC was obliged to find volunteers to act as operating agents: the last operating agent of the former EPERC was UCC/ANIMA, who is also the actual operating agent of EPERC-AISBL. In the general Assembly of December 2007 it was finally decided to transform EPERC from a “de facto” organisation in a “de jure” organisation, thus creating EPERC-AISBL (Association Internationale Sans But Lucratif according to the Belgian legislation), with a better possibility to manage research projects using the funding provided by the Commission for research activities. This decision was further confirmed in 2009 at Budapest. However no one knows why it took UCC/ANIMA so many years to obtain the recognition of EPERC-AISBL as a legal Belgian entity, which happened officially only in 2011 with the Royal Decree of October 27th. Certainly the 3-4 years stop of any activity has caused a fall of interest in many of the original more than 300 members, so that the actual members of EPERC- AISBL (who actually paid the association fee for the first year) are a little bit more than 10 individuals and/or organisations. This fall of interest became evident at the time of the general assembly of November 2011, which never took place, because almost no one of the members was willing to participate. No further date was fixed for this assembly, no promotional activity was carried out by UCC/ANIMA, no one dared even to ask the members for the payment of the subsequent yearly association fees. So the first general assembly of EPERC-AISBL, scheduled for the next month of April, will also be the last one. In this general assembly at the first point of the agenda the members will have to approve the financial statements for the year 2012 (result: loss of 29,83 Euro) and for the year 2013 (result: loss of 29,84 Euro), as well as the budget for 2014 (result: loss of 364,70 Euro, having spent all the amount of the original association fees to pay first the constitution, and then the dissolution of EPERC-AISBL). In other words: sorry gentlemen, it was only a joke.
Who is responsible for this? The actual President Dr. Franco Tartaglino? The 6 directors (including myself)? The President of UCC? The President of ANIMA? The European Commission? The original 300 members? The world crisis? Or it is the fault of the cynical and cheat fate, just to recall a famous sentence of Benito Mussolini?
Well, let’s try to be realistic. The pressure equipment industry (at least the manufacturing industry) is quickly moving outside Europe: even if many important French, German and Italian Pressure Vessel and Boiler makers still exist, many of them have transferred all their manufacturing activities towards countries like India, Saudi Arabia, Kazakhstan, Turkey, etc. Only a few European manufacturers, which make qualified vessels of very peculiar and expensive materials, are insisting in keeping their facilities open. May be we have in Europe still some important users, big oil, gas and power generation companies: but how can you pretend that these poor guys are still interested in developing the Pressure Equipment industry in Europe? How can you pretend that they are interested in the research on pressure equipment? And why they should subcontract their relationships with the European Union to an Association like EPERC-AISBL? Each one of them has already very good links with the European Union. At the end, why they should collaborate with European Institutions and Organisations for the growth of the Pressure Equipment sector, having clarified that in this sector in Europe there is no growth at all? And why they should present to the Commission some stupid research project and ask them for funding? Let other countries make their own research projects and let find themselves the proper funding! In Europe we have already ORGALIME, the European Federation of the Mechanical Industry, which assures the proper contacts with the Commission. Moreover, we have already several CEN Technical Committees, where some experts are amusing themselves in writing the proper EN standards needed for the application of the European Directives (at a really negligible cost, since they are all working for fun). Of course these guys are always complaining that some kind of theoretical or experimental work in support of the standardization would be needed, but at the end they will certainly realize that the best thing to do is to go on copying somebody else’s standards, leaving the European Commission the possibility of using the money of the European tax payers for more important business.
Of course there is also the possibility that some one of the actual members will come to the assembly to say that he doesn’t agree with the dissolution of EPERC-AISBL, may be also proposing a change in the board of directors and a change of the operating agent; or may be some one of the members of the former EPERC will have some reasonable proposal to keep this organisation alive. Well, if this is the case, please do something.
Dr. Fernando Lidonnici
Convenor of WG53/CEN TC54