Our history

 

Orgalime was officially created in late 1954, though its origins are even slightly older. It therefore pre-exists the European Commission. At the 50th anniversary celebrations in 2005, founder member, Nils Lundqvist, former Managing Director of Sveriges Mekanförbund the Swedish Association of Engineering Industries recounted those early days:

“On Tuesday the 8th of November 1954, newly appointed managing director of Sveriges Mekanförbund, I found myself in a meeting in Paris called by Mr Métral, Chairman of Syndicat Général des Industries Mécaniques et Transformatrices des Métaux. The matter to be dealt with was the founding of a European organisation. The engineering trade associations from Austria, Belgium, France, West Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the UK and the four Nordic countries were there, all represented by their Chairmen and Managing Directors.

The participants agreed to form Organisme de Liaison des Industries Métalliques Européennes, ORGALIME for short. It was underlined that this ‘organisme de liaison’ would have the character of an informal club without any financial demands on the organisations taking part. It was also agreed that questions of wages and collective agreements would not be discussed. Mr Heineke from Denmark was appointed Chairman and the French organisation agreed to provide the secretariat. After a few years, demands for a better structure for Orgalime surfaced.  The origins of the collaboration between our industries after the war dated from 1948 when the first post war European engineering congress was held in Paris with around 400 delegates.  3 Sveriges Mekanförbund had undertaken to host the fourth congress in Stockholm in 1952. As part of the preparations, the organisation committee met in Gothenburg in 1951. There the participants had agreed to an extra day for discussion of economic issues. The agenda listed, among other things, the negotiations for a free trade agreement that were held in Torquay at that time and the Schuman plan, which was then a burning issue. The participants also discussed a proposal to form a European Metal Industry Confederation. The meeting can be seen as sowing the seeds of Orgalime. Parallel structures were also developing: already in 1952 the engineering industries in the six European Coal and Steel Community countries had formed COLIME to take care of the industry’s interests as buyers of steel and to discuss the Rome Treaty. When, later, the countries outside formed EFTA, the engineering organisations of those countries countered to form MEFTA at a meeting in Paris in 1959. As a result it became unclear how the cooperation should be handled. What was the role of Orgalime? Sveriges Mekanförbund hosted Orgalime’s yearly meeting in 1960 at the beginning of June. I chose to break with the tradition of always meeting in the major cities and invited my colleagues to the little town of Båstad in the south of Sweden. The nearest airport was in Copenhagen and our member companies provided limousines to drive the participants between the airport and Båstad. We all stayed at the same hotel. This turned out to be a successful arrangement allowing for extensive discussions between the participants far from the tempting pleasures of the major cities. The organisation and budget for Orgalime was once again debated. After a while the Belgian delegate Mr Poncelet took the floor and said: Let us kill COLIME and MEFTA and have only one organisation, Orgalime, with one budget. Mr Poncelet was an imposing man who had the ear of his colleagues. His proposal totally changed the situation and the result was that COLIME and MEFTA became working groups within Orgalime and soon thereafter disappeared.

During all the years until my retirement in 1979 I took an active part in the Orgalime work. I also took part in the working group which, under the chairmanship of the English delegate Mr Steward, wrote the Orgalime bye-laws and formulated the aims of the organisation. A separate secretariat was established in 1963 in Brussels and Mr Groenhart was employed as Secretary General. During a period I was Chairman of the Executive Committee, and made many trips to Brussels for long discussions with Mr Groenhart. Thus Orgalime was born”.

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