The change of chairmanship at the head of Eurom 1 will coincide with an important presentation that the organization plans to make to the members of the health and transport committees of the European Parliament in Strasbourg on July 6, in an effort to get the European Commission and the European Council to take some action on some important points.
It would cap several years of preparation and lobbying under the chairmanship of Antoni Olivella with the help of a former chairman of Eurom 1, Bertrand de Limé, the former Essilor executive who is now its secretary general.
Eurom 1 wants the European Parliament to put pressure on the EU for a European directive intended to get its member governments to increase the frequency of sight tests required for the holders of driver's licenses. Eyewear industry executives expect that this directive, to be issued in 2013 or 2014, could lead to more frequent replacement of ophthalmic lenses and to an increase in the number of wearers. Eurom 1 estimates that about 40 million drivers in Europe have poor vision correction or none at all.
The industry's request is being backed by a number of studies, already conducted or planned in several European countries and the U.S., showing that vision correction helps to avoid car accidents. The latest is a study carried out in Italy. It indicates that 20 percent of the accidents are due to poor vision and that these accidents cost the nation the equivalent of 2 percent of the gross national product.
The European eyewear industry sees the issue of «better vision for safer driving» as being partly related to the need to make the population at large, and companies in particular, more aware of the benefits of vision correction. This is supported by a study by the World Health Organization that sees a relation between the competitiveness of a company and the quality of its employees' vision.
The eyewear industry also wants the European authorities to somehow regulate the sale of vision correction items over the internet. Siding with the regular opticians, who are regulated, the suppliers feel that the delivery and fitting of spectacles and contact lenses that are based on an eye doctor's prescription must be carried out face-to-face because they are medical devices.
Eurom 1 has issued a position paper on this. However, suppliers and retailers are waiting for a ruling by the European Court of Justice, reportedly expected to be issued on April 15, on a request by the Hungarian Health Ministry to clarify the existing European regulations on the sale of contact lenses over the internet. French authorities have indicate that they want to regulate the secotr somehow.
Independently of their lobbying efforts, the associations belonging to Eurom 1 have decided in principle to reinforce their cooperation. One of the items on the agenda is the collection and sharing of comparable data on the sell-in of their products to retailers in the different countries, in order to get a better picture of the European market situation. This is already done in the area of contact lenses.