Why does the AVMA’s relationship with the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe (FVE) matter to us as AVMA member veterinarians practicing here in the United States? First of all, through our relationship with the FVE, we share vital information with one another that helps the AVMA better serve our members. In addition, our relationship allows us to unite as a larger voice, advocating across continents for the importance of veterinary medicine to society.
What is the FVE? It is an umbrella organization of veterinary associations from 38 European countries, representing four vibrant sections: practitioners; public health; veterinarians in government service; and veterinarians in education, research and industry. Like the AVMA, which advocates before the federal government on behalf of the U.S. veterinary profession, the FVE advocates to the European Commission (EC) on behalf of its members. Together, the FVE and the AVMA represent approximately 300,000 veterinarians across Europe and the United States.
For almost a decade now, AVMA leadership has met with FVE leadership once or twice a year, most often at the FVE General Assembly, but also at AVMA headquarters. Typically, the AVMA’s director of international affairs and chair of the Committee on International Veterinary Affairs, currently Dr. René Carlson, and the AVMA president or CEO, represent the association. As guests of the federation, AVMA leaders are also invited to speak to the General Assembly, which is much like our own AVMA House of Delegates, except that the FVE delegates are not from 50 states and many allied groups, but from 38 different countries!
During these leadership meetings, the AVMA, FVE and, more recently the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA), talk about issues in veterinary medicine that are important to all of our members, such as effective advocacy strategies, animal welfare policies (e.g., substandard breeding facilities, animal transport guidelines, equine welfare) and animal medicines (e.g., the availability of and proper use of antimicrobials, and protecting the value of the veterinary prescription). These discussions are similar to those that a veterinary practitioner might have with colleagues about a challenging clinical case. Similar to our practitioner colleagues, AVMA leaders learn from our counterparts at the FVE and CVMA, which in turn allows the AVMA to improve our efforts to protect, promote and advance the veterinary profession for the benefit of our members.
“Our relationship allows us to unite as a larger voice, advocating across continents for the importance of veterinary medicine to society.”
In addition, by discussing common challenges among our organizations, AVMA, FVE and CVMA can develop policies and position statements that will assist in our combined advocacy efforts. All three organizations develop their own policies that guide their initiatives and activities. But the three organizations have also developed joint statements that carry the weight of hundreds of thousands of veterinarians across two continents to policy makers in multiple countries and the EC. We have joint statements on Animal Welfare, Veterinary Education, Use of Antimicrobials, the Role of Veterinarians for the Public Good and Global Control of Canine Rabies— all One Health issues important to AVMA members. These statements give more strength to AVMA policy discussions here in the U.S., and they bring the voice of our members to European policy tables as well.
As Dr. Carlson states, “The AVMA and FVE are both global leaders in veterinary medicine. Our relationship with the FVE, built on trust and mutual respect, is of great importance for highlighting and protecting the integrity and value of veterinary service to society, whether to the U.S. Congress or the European Union’s Commission and Parliament.” We trust you would agree.