Our history

Throwing Paper

In 1988, national coeliac associations from Spain, United Kingdom, Italy and France came together in Barcelona to form the Association of European Coeliac Societies. The organisation has since grown significantly in size and influence and is now a recognised player in the international arena of coeliac disease.

AOECS history timeline

1988 Barcelona

First contact between founder associations, chaired by Matilde Torralba.
Participants: France, Italy, Spain (SMAP, ACE), UK.
First meeting of the 'Steering Committee, chaired by Adriano Pucci.
Formal foundation of AOECS formed.
New joining countries: Austria, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland.

1989 General Assembly in Netherlands

First Board members are elected: Cyp Wagenaar (NL) Chris Marsh (UK) Adriano Zagato (IT).
New joining countries: Finland, Poland, Sweden.
First petition to the European Commission – which was not accepted.

1990 General Assembly in Oxford, UK

Board: Cyp Wagenaar (NL), Chris Marsh (UK), Chrisser Brandt-Pedersen (DK).
The First International Conference of Coeliac Societies and Associations.
New joining countries: Ireland, Malta, Yugoslavia.

1991 General Assembly in Warszawa, Poland

Board: Freddy Vander Linden (BE), Hertha Deutsch (AT), Chrisser Brandt-Pedersen (DK).
New joining country: Czech-Slovakia.
AOECS receives observer status in the Codex-Alimentarius Commission of World Health Organisation.

1992 General Assembly in Oslo, Norway

Board: Freddy Van der Linden (BE),Hertha Deutsch (AT), Chrisser Brandt-Pedersen (DK).
New joining countries: Greece, Hungary.
Stop of gluten-coating of fruits and vegetables.

1993 General Assembly in Tübingen, German

Board: Freddy Van der Linden (BE), Hertha Deutsch (AT), Chrisser Brandt-Pedersen (DK).
New joining country: Romania.

1994 General Assembly in Budapest, Hungary

Board: Freddy Van der Linden (BE), Hertha Deutsch (AT), Chrisser Brand-Pedersen (DK).
New joining countries: Lithuania, Slovenia.
First AOECS Newsletter issued.

1995 General Assembly in Karrebaeksminde, Denmark

Board: Freddy Van der Linden (BE),Hertha Deutsch (AT), Chrisser Brand-Pedersen (DK).
EU Parliament voted for the declaration of wheat starch.

1996 General Assembly in Barcelona, Spain

Board: Freddy Van der Linden (BE), Hertha Deutsch (AT), Gerard Beerling (NL).
International meeting – ‘Spanish-speaking countries’.
Codex CCNFSDU: Gluten threshold  - 20 ppm for GF by nature and 200 ppm for rendered GF products.

1997 General Assembly in Paris, France

Board: Freddy Van der Linden (BE), Hertha Deutsch (AT), Gerard Beerling (NL).
Stop the ‘cheese coating’ project.

1998 General Assembly in Tampere, Finland

Board: Freddy Van der Linden (BE), Hertha Deutsch (AT), Gerard Beerling (NL)  
Scientific conference – parallel with AOECS GA
Gluten remains on the list of hypersensitivity
Cheese coating will not be used

1999 General Assembly in Florence, Italy

Board: Freddy Van der Linden (BE), Hertha Deutsch (AT), Bjorn Johansson (SE).
New joining country: Latvia.
The 1st International Summer Camp in Hungary.
Major success for AOECS - gluten declaration on labels is obliged.

2000 General Assembly in Noordwijkerhout, Netherlands

Board: Freddy Vander Linden (BE), Hertha Deutsch (AT), Bjorn Johansson (SE).
Common meeting with the members of the Coeliac Society of Netherlands.
Start of EU Cluster Project.

2001 General Assembly in Stockholm, Sweden

Board: Maria Heigl (NL), Karsten Kronholm (NO), Bjorn Johansson (SE).
New joining countries: Luxembourg, St.Petersburg.
Youth group’s activity intensively started: youth board.

2002 General Assembly in St Julian’s, Malta

Board: Andrew Ladds (GB), Karsten Kronholm (NO), Bjorn Johansson (SE).
Participants: Austria, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta,  Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Russia, Spain, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, UK.

2003 General Assembly in Budapest, Hungary

Board: Andrew Ladds (GB), Karsten Kronholm (NO), Christian Scerri (MT).
New joining country: Turkey.
EU-directive 2003/89/EC: cereals containing gluten remained the first group of food allergen list.

2004 General Assembly in Lucerne, Switzerland

Board: Andrew Ladds (GB), Nanna Vuolteenaho (FI), Christian Scerri (MT) (during the year Andrew left Coeliac UK and Jean-Louis Kieffer (LU) was co-opted).
R5 method to detect gluten in foods was temporarily endorsed as a Type I method.
Adoption of the BMF (Basic Membership Fee) system for membership fees and voting rights.

2005 General Assembly in Edinburgh, UK

Board: Jean-Louis Kieffer (LU), Nanna Vuolteenaho (FI), Christian Scerri (MT).
New joining country: Portugal.
Decision about organisation of the 1st ICD in 2006.
The EU-directive entered into force in all EU-states on 25 November 2005.

2006 General Assembly in Stuttgart, Germany

Board: Jean-Louis Kieffer (LU), Nanna Vuolteenaho (FI), Christian Scerri (MT).
New countries: Greece, Estonia, Turkey Spain/FACE (rejoin).
Improvements in Codex Standard: 200 ppm was replaced by 100 ppm.

2007 General Assembly in Maribor, Slovenia

Board: Jean-Louis Kieffer (LU), Tunde Koltai (HU), Christian Scerri (MT).
New joining countries: Poland, Czech Republic (2) Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
International scientific conference on Coeliac Disease – parallel with AOECS GA.

2008 General Assembly in Genoa, Italy

Board: Jean-Louis Kieffer (LU), Tunde Koltai (HU), Christian Scerri (MT).
Codex Commission adopted the Codex Standard for Foods for Special Dietary Uses for Persons Intolerant to Gluten after a 17 years discussion in the CCNFSDU.
AOECS is awarded participation in EU-funded projects CD-Medics and PreventCD.

2009 General Assembly in St Julian’s, Malta

Board: Jean-Louis Kieffer (LU), Tunde Koltai (HU), Christian Scerri (MT).
Statutes amended to increase of Board representation from three to five members: Susan Phillips (IT) and Sarah Sleet (UK) voted to the Board as additional members.
Creation of Working Groups: Youth, Research, Helping Coeliacs, and Statutes.

2010 General Assembly in Valencia, Spain

Board: Jean-Louis Kieffer (LU), Tunde Koltai (HU), Christian Scerri (MT), Susan Phillips (IT), Sarah Sleet (UK).
New joining countries: Greece (2nd society) and Cyprus. Bulgaria and Ukraine are offered ‘candidate status’ for no fee (i.e. full participation in the AOECS’ activities but no voting rights).

2011 General Assembly in St Julian’s, Malta

Board: Christian Scerri (MT), Tunde Koltai (HU), Susan Phillips (IT), Sarah Sleet (UK), Jean-Louis Kieffer (LU).
Retirement of Board member and Treasurer Jean-Louis Kieffer (LU) and election of Dan Kühnau (DE) as new Board member and Treasurer.

2012 General Assembly in Helsinki, Finland

Board: Christian Scerri (MT), Tunde Koltai (HU), Susan Phillips (IT), Sarah Sleet (UK), Dan Kühnau (DE).
Retirement of Board members Christian Scerri (MT) and Susan Phillips (IT), election of Nanna Puntila (FI) and Ivana Losa (IT) as new Board members and re-election of Sarah Sleet (UK).
New joining country: Latvia.
Establishment of the Scientific Advisory List – a panel of medical experts on coeliac disease.
Launching of the AOECS European Licensing System.

2013 – General Assembly in Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Board: Tunde Koltai (HU), Sarah Sleet (UK), Dan Kühnau (DE), Nanna Puntila (FI), Ivana Losa (IT).
Re-election of Tunde Koltai Board member.

2014 – General Assembly in Slovenia

Board: Tunde Koltai (HU), Sarah Sleet (UK), Dan Kühnau (DE), Nanna Puntila (FI), Ivana Losa (IT).
Re-election of Dan Kühnau as Board member and Treasurer.

2015- General Assembly in Dublin, Ireland  

Board: Tunde Koltai (HU), Sarah Sleet (UK), Dan Kühnau (DE), Nanna Puntila (FI), Ivana Losa (IT).
Re-election of Sarah Sleet (UK) and Nanna Puntila (FI). Election of Susanna Neuhold (IT) as new Board member.     

2016- General Assembly in Warsaw, Poland    

Board: Tunde Koltai (HU), Sarah Sleet (UK), Dan Kühnau (DE), Nanna Puntila (FI), Susanna Neuhold (IT).
Election of Christian Scerri (MT) as Board member.

Number of products licensed under AOECS European Licensing System reach 12,000.

2017-  General Assembly in Belgrad, Serbia

Board: Tunde Koltai (HU), Sarah Sleet (UK), Nanna Puntila (FI), Christian Scerri (MT), Susanna Neuhold (IT).
Election of Katre Trofimov (ET) as Board member.

New full members:
- Asociația Română Pentru Intoleranță la Gluten (“ARIG”) – Romania
- Associação Portuguesa de Celíacos (“APC”)– Portugal

New affiliate member:
- Israeli Coeliac Association (the “Israeli Association”) – Israel

2018 - General Assembly in Budapest, Hungary    

Board: Sarah Sleet (UK), Nanna Puntila (FI), Christian Scerri (MT), Susanna Neuhold (IT), Katre Trofimov (ET)
Re-election of Susanna Neuhold (IT) as Board member.
Election of Izaskun Martin-Cabrejas (ES), Tunde Koltai (HU) as Board member.

New full member:
- The Bulgaria Coeliac Association (BCA) – Bulgaria

New affiliate member:
- the Coeliac Disease Foundation (CDF)– USA

2019 - General Assembly in Milan, Italy    

Board: Tunde Koltai (HU), Susanna Neuhold (IT), Christian Scerri (MT), Katre Trofimov (ET), Izaskun Martin-Cabrejas (ES)
Re-election of Christian Scerri (MT) as Board member.
Election of Hilary Croft (UK) as Board member.

Marketing Strategist, Cindy Paula de Schouwer, was hired for developing marketing strategy for ELS.

New full member:
- Harmony without gluten - Belarus
- Life without Gluten – Latvia

New affiliate member:
- Life with Coeliac Association – Turkey
- Celiac & Non-Celiac Care Providers Society - Jordania

2020 - General Assembly, virtual online meeting

Board: Tunde Koltai (HU), Christian Scerri (MT), Katre Trofimov (ET), Izaskun Martin-Cabrejas (ES), Hilary Croft (UK)
Election of Floris van Overveld (NL) as Board member.

New full member:
- Union of Associations of Persons Affected by Coeliac Disease - Bosnia and Herzegovina

New affiliate member:
- Beyond Celiac – USA

2 new paid positions were created – Secretary General and Marketing Manager

2021 April Extraordinary General Assembly, virtual online meeting

Board: Tunde Koltai (HU), Christian Scerri (MT), Izaskun Martin-Cabrejas (ES), Hilary Croft (UK), Floris van Overveld (NL)

Due to resigning of Izaskun Martin-Cabrejas the second runner up from 2020 GA Board election, Magnus Filipsson (SE), agreed to substitute as Board member.

The first ever Secretary General of AOECS, Veronica Rubio, was introduced at the GA.

2021 November General Assembly, virtual online meeting

Board: Tunde Koltai (HU), Christian Scerri (MT), Hilary Croft (UK), Floris van Overveld (NL), Magnus Filipsson (SE)
Re-election of Tunde Koltai (HU) as Board member.
One Board position remained unfilled.

Marketing Manager, Jesper Lindström, joined the AOECS staff during 2021 summer.

2022 June - Extraordinary General Assembly, virtual online meeting

Board: Tunde Koltai (HU), Christian Scerri (MT), Hilary Croft (UK), Floris van Overveld (NL)

Two new board members elected Gill Brennan (IE), Katre Trofimov (EE)

2022 September General Assembly, Lisbon, Portugal

Board: Tunde Koltai (HU), Christian Scerri (MT), Hilary Croft (UK), Floris van Overveld (NL), Gill Brennan (IE), Katre Trofimov (EE)

Action plan for 2023 was established.

2022 November -  Extraordinary General Assembly, virtual online meeting

Board: Tunde Koltai (HU), Christian Scerri (MT), Hilary Croft (UK), Floris van Overveld (NL), Gill Brennan (IE), Katre Trofimov (EE)

2023 June  Extraordinary General Assembly, virtual online meeting

Board: Tunde Koltai (HU), Hilary Croft (UK), Floris van Overveld (NL), Gill Brennan (IE), Katre Trofimov (EE)

It was voted on to pursue an WHO approval of an official Coeliac Day.