Dr. Wolfgang Breitenthaler, President of the Unions of Honorary Consuls in Europe (F.U.E.C.H.)
F.U.E.C.H. (Federation of European Associations of Honorary Consuls) was founded on 17th April, 2004 in Grenoble, France by its founding members, the national consular associations of Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Slovenia as the only official European Federation of Honorary Consuls with the aims to strive for a harmonisation of the rights, tasks and duties of Honorary Consuls in Europe.
What was the reason for establishing this European Organisation of national and regional Associations of Honorary Consuls in Europe?
A group of six national and one regional Consular Corps (Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Netherlands, Slovenia and Eastern & Central European Consular Corps (E.C.E.C.C.) joined in 2004, in Grenoble, to establish the “Fédération de l’Union Européenne des Consuls Honoraires (F.U.E.C.H.)“ focusing a.o. on the promotion of contacts between Honorary Consuls in Europe, to circulate relevant information between the members and to promote and encourage all initiatives and activities to ensure,that the legal requirements for the work of Honorary Consuls in Europe according the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations dated 21st April 1963 are established within the Receiving States. In 2014 F.U.E.C.H. has 14 member-associations, the present headquarter is in Vienna.
By what means does F.U.E.C.H. intend to strengthen Honorary Consuls in Europe respectively and give support to its members?
F.U.E.C.H. is registered with the European Commission as the Organisation of Honorary Consuls in Europe and receives all information relevant for Honorary Consuls respectively is invited to deliver statements to various issues related to the work of Honorary Consuls. On the occasion of the Board‘s latest visit to Lady Ashton’s Office in Brussels we were informed about the upcoming European Diplomatic Service and the then new role of Honorary Consuls, which will see additional duties and even more work, since the Honorary Consuls render their work on behalf of the Sending State in the Receiving State free of charge – Honorary Consuls not only perform Consular duties on behalf of their Sending State, but also act as information-brokers for business, culture and tourism for the benefit of interested parties in the Receiving State. Honorary Consuls also enjoy certain privileges and immunities, that enable them to perform their duties as accredited Consular Representatives of a Foreign State on the territory of he Receiving State, these privileges and immunities are defined in the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and are granted according the regulations of the Receiving State. F.U.E.C.H. offers all new informations relevant for Honorary Consuls to its members, national or regional Consular Associations, in order to have communicated these then to the individual Honorary Consul. On the occasion of at least two annual Board-Meetings, one General Assembly every year and informal meetings we keep close contact with our members in Europe.
Who are the Members of the F.U.E.C.H.-Board and which Consular Associations do they represent?
I was elected as President of F.U.E.C.H. at the General Assembly in Brussels 2013 (representing U.C.C.A., Austria), after having served as Secretary General for nine years, succeeding Mdme. Hon. Consul General Ann-Katrin Bauknecht as President, who is now in her capacities as Hon. President of F.U.E.C.H. and Hon. President of CC-Germany representing the Consular Corps of Germany on the Board. Further members are Hon. Consul DDr. Marc Aicardi de Saint Paul (Observer CC-France), Vice-President Hon. Consul General Dr. George Suha (CC-Hungary), Treasurer Hon. Consul Dr. Peter Freissler (E.C.E.C.C.), Vice-President Hon. Consul Willy Deswaef (CC-Belgium) and Hon. Consul General Frans van Lanschot (Netherlands, succeeding Hon. Consul Mario Bruna at the Board-Meeting in Malta 2014). My Collegues on the Board of F.U.E.C.H. are an excellent team, with european spirit, we look forward to continue serving our members in Europe at the highest possible level. We will foster close ties to the European Commission and the respective Ministries of Foreign Affairs in Europe, to maintain and even expand fruitful cooperations (F.U.E.C.H.-Chancery: firstname.lastname@example.org).