ECHA's Third European Conference took place in Munich, Germany from October 11-14, 1992. 

"The conference's scientific programme," President Joan Freeman wrote in her welcoming statement, "is an outstanding reflection of ECHA's mission to promote high ability by using valid and reliable evidence as the basis of educational decisions."

Prof. Dr. Kurt Heller

The conference was organized by Prof. Dr. Kurt Heller and Prof. Dr. Ernst Hany, who had been been very active preparing the conference. There were strong objections to the proposed title – High Ability in an Integrating Europe because of its political implications and its similarity to the name ECHA. The title then was decided to be “Competence and Responsibility”.

“High Ability in a Changing Europe”. What a striking name for the second ECHA conference in 1990. Europe was certainly changing, due to the revolutions in Eastern Europe and the Iron Curtain coming down.

“One of ECHA’s first steps to networking information was to reach out to colleagues on the other side of the ‘Iron Curtain’ in Eastern Europe. Academics and teachers there had been isolated for years by many forces, not least because Western scientific books on education and psychology were not for sale for them. The West and the East needed each others’ expertises. Positive reactions came quickly from all over - East Berlin, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Poland, Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union. ECHA added two colleagues from the east to the board - Levcho Zdravchev from Bulgaria and Éva Gefferth from Hungary.”
(Pieter Span, 2008)

“I am truly proud to have the honour of welcoming you all to this first European Conference of ECHA.”

Those were the first words of Opening Address of the President of ECHA at that time, Dr Joan Freeman. She looked back on the start of ECHA and looked forward to what they hoped would happen in the future:

“It was only about 18 months ago that a few people met in Utrecht to discuss how we might form a European association for the highly able. (…) This conference in Zurich is intended both to launch ECHA as a clearly effective organisation, to firm-up network where it has already spread, as well as acting as a focus for making more links. (…)

You may have heard it on the grapevine that our next major conference is to be in Budapest. This beautiful city, either side of the Danube, was the natural choice. It fits into the original ECHA plan to have a European conference, alternately in the West and the East of the continent, in the quiet years either side of the conferences of the World Council for Gifted and Talented Children. (…)

Those of us here at this first conference of the European Council for High Ability are privileged to be in at the start of a movement which is already growing very fast indeed. (…)

ECHA is the only association covering all Europe, which is specifically concerned with high ability. We have a daunting amount to accomplish in the next few years in getting these outlined ideas and plans into action. I am excited by ECHA, because I believe it is a sound venture which will soon bear fruit for the highly able, and that is why we are here, to start the ball rolling.”
(Opening address From the President of ECHA, Dr. Joan Freeman 10th Nov 1988)

ECHA’s 30th Birth Anniversary Celebration:

History of ECHA Conferences

The General Committee of ECHA decided to celebrate the 30th birthday of ECHA by collecting the available information and memories of our past 15 International ECHA Conferences. These conferences were always the highlights of ECHA’s life, which gave again and again a great impetus for research, its applications and cooperation both in gifted education and talent support. The Committee asked Ragnild Zonneveld to mobilize the collective memory of ECHA on its conferences. Please find her Introduction to the Conference summaries enclosed.

Peter Csermely
president of ECHA

It is with great pleasure I present you this overview on thirty years of ECHA Conferences-history.

While doing research for this project, I found this article in ECHA News: “The Importance of attending a Conference”, by Ludmila V. Popova. Ludmila Popova ends her article by saying:

“Looking back on all these events and projects I can see how many new friends and enthusiastic supporters I have acquired thanks to the conferences, how much has been achieved during this relatively short period of time, what a wide network has formed and how much I have been stimulated by these contacts. (…) With great hopes I foresee my meetings with friends and colleagues with whom we have worked and are working together for the sake of a better world and our common future.”
(ECHA News Vol. 8 no. 2 September 1994)

That was the tendency in all the reports and memories I came across: every single one was about “warm”, about “inspiration” and “stimulation”, about “contact”, “working together” and “meeting people”. And actually, it was just that I experienced myself, while working on this project!

To make this overview I have worked my way through the ECHA archives: all the minutes of the General Committee, High Ability Studies and ECHA News issues. I searched the whole of the internet by filling in several combinations in Google (did you know ECHA is a European Agency for Chemistry Safety as well?). I stalked quite a few people by emailing them (a lot) for information; sorry about that! I met with a few people, among whom the founding ECHA President, Prof. Joan Freeman and the three times president of ECHA, Prof. Franz J. Mönks. I became best friends (including arguments) with Google Translate. Same with my laptop. And thus all the bits and pieces came together.

I would like to take the opportunity to say a special thank you to a few contributors who made my work a lot easier:

  • Joan Freeman, thank you for inviting me in London and providing me with so many materials!
  • Franz Mönks, thank you for taking the time to meet me in Driebergen.
  • Ernst Hany, Éva Gefferth and Javier Tourón, thank you for reacting so often, so quickly and so informatively.

I feel privileged to have had contact with so many people I read about while working on this project; ECHA history really came to life!

Joan Freeman stated in her Opening Address at the very first conference in Zürich 1988:

“ECHA is the only association covering all Europe, which is specifically concerned with high ability. We have a daunting amount to accomplish in the next few years in getting these outlined ideas and plans into action. I am excited by ECHA, because I believe it is a sound venture which will soon bear fruit for the highly able, and that is why we are here, to start the ball rolling.”

During this project I found the ball never stopped rolling, and ECHA has been fruitful and accomplished a whole lot in the past thirty years. So let’s keep the ball rolling: I’m looking forward to meeting you in Dublin next year, so we can make some new contacts, memories and history!

Ragnild Zonneveld

November 2017

Gifted and talented students participating in the First European Youth Summit 2016, which was held in Vienna (Austria) between 29 February and 5 March 2016, summarized their needs in education and life. The document, having the title "Charter on the rights of gifted students" can be downloaded from here Youth Platform Charter. The successful Summit took place in parallel with the 15th International Conference of ECHA. Participating students continued the discussion on the document with the supervision of Monica Parodi, Ph.D., specialist in political legislation and Anna Maria Roncoroni, Ph.D., member of the General Committee of ECHA. The document (which was modified several times during the discussions of the students) is intending to call the attention and action of all parties involved in bettering the life of gifted and talented students, be them politicians, teachers at any level of the education system, potential mentors, tutors, parents and all members of the societies in Europe and other continents. The document wants to contribute to the process of making these societies more and more supportive for the help of gifted and talented as their key resource and – in fact – as their life insurance to solve the unprecedented challenges mankind faces in the 21st century. In the meantime we had a successful 2nd European Youth Summit in Budapest earlier this year. The next 3 Summits will take place during the 2018 and 2020 International ECHA Conferences in Dublin and Porto, respectively, as well as during the 2019 Thematic ECHA Conference in Dubrovnik. The Youth Platform of the European Talent Support Network started several other projects which you may follow here:

In reply to several inqueries the Qualification Committe of ECHA announce to extent the deadline of the Application to be European or an Associated European Talent Centre a by 22nd October.

Note that there will be no further extension of this deadline.

If you have any further questions, please send them to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. email address.

Pay your ECHA membership fee or become an ECHA member now by filling in your data here: Under the new scheme of ECHA membership introduced earlier this year ( if you pay your ECHA membership fee before September 30th, you will still receive the autumn issue of ECHA News and High Ability Studies. Your membership will expire only on September 30th 2018. Importantly, for your 60 EUR membership you receive a 70 EUR discount from the registration fee of the 2018 ECHA Conference in Dublin. Register here: and submit your abstract here: Do not worry whether you had already paid your ECHA membership fee for 2017. If you make a duplicate payment your membership will be extended until 2019. Become an ECHA members now!

ECHA has its 30th birthday in 1987 and 1988. It was on 29th May 1987, when ECHA was founded in Utrecht and 10 November 1988 when the first ECHA Conference started in Zürich. The General Committee decided to celebrate the 30th birthday by collecting information on all International ECHA Conferences and by publishing them on the ECHA website. Please send your photos, or any other electronic document you have on former ECHA Conferences to Ragnild Zonneveld, the vice-president of the ECHA association in the Netherlands at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Ragnild will be helped in her work by our ECHA General Committee member, Lianne Hoogeveen, who keeps the ECHA archives. They will also lead the efforts to make a short history of ECHA training. (When sending your contribution in the subject line please mention the conference or training -- place and time -- the material or text relates to.) Great thanks for your help!

The 2014 General Assembly of ECHA agreed that ECHA will support, regulate and guide the formation of a European Talent Support Network. European Talent Centres will form the hubs of this Network, while European Talent Points will be its nodes.[1]


Aims and details of the European Talent Support Network can be found in the document downloadable from:

The General Assembly of ECHA elected the Qualification Committee in 2016: to qualify European Talent Centres.


The Qualification Committee invites European or in case of Associated Centres non European talent support organisations to submit their application to become a European or Associated European Talent Centre.


A European Talent Centre should be an organisation, or a distinct part of a larger organisation, established for this role. European Talent Centres might organise activities in the field of high ability in a region or a country (meaning that there might be more than one European Talent Centre per European country, and applications may cover more than one country).

You can read about the results of the first round (2015) and the second round (2016) of applications here:  and here:

You can only apply on-line on the ETSN website (;  the application form in a pdf format and its scoring sheet can be downloaded from here, too. The Qualification Committee will evaluate your application by aggregating the scores as a whole. Applications will not be judged against each criteria separately. Successful proven past activity and potential future engagements in the field would be of key importance in this process. 

Existing European Talent Centres will be re-evaluated every other year (i.e. in 2019, 2021 etc.) by the Qualification Committee of ECHA to ensure that they still fulfil the criteria. If the criteria are no longer fulfilled, the title of European Talent Centre may be suspended or withdrawn by the Committee.

Please complete the on-line Application Form ( by 22 October 2017. Completed online application forms will be sent to the Secretary of the Qualification Committee, Csilla Fuszek ( Please email any queries to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

[1] The notion of hubs (Talent Centres) and nodes (Talent Points) in the forming European Talent Support Network does not mean a hierarchical structure. European Talent Points will be linked to the Network through European Talent Centres. European Talent Points may also develop contacts with multiple European Talent Centres and each other. Talent Centers should be considered as coordinating centers. There is a possibility for a joint-application to be a European Talent Centre requiring no potential European Talent Points (schools, parent organisations, organisations in gifted education, etc.) for that particular Centre. That gives a way to make a fully non-hierarchical network in countries, or regions, where it is preferred.

It is our pleasure to announce that the 17th International ECHA Conference will take place in the historic city of Porto in Portugal between the 9th and 12th September 2020. We look forward to this exciting meeting having the major topic of Capacity and Talent including educational policies, innovative and technological educational practices, identification and evaluation, case studies and all areas of gifted education and talent support. The conference will provide networking options for the European Talent Support Network and will host the 2020 European Youth Summit. Please mark the event in your calendar NOW! We look forward to see you at this momentous event.

Become a member of the ECHA community! Please click HERE  to start your application to become an ECHA member (where your membership fee can be paid by credit card through a secure connection), or go to the Members Area page, where you may see members' benefits.

For membership issues and general information please contact the ECHA Secretariat by clicking HERE .

ECHA News appears twice a year giving in-depth interviews, description of best practices, introduction of ECHA members and highly able young people. For more information click HERE .

ECHA members receive ECHA News free as a pdf file to their email address. Back issues can be accessed in this web-site for ECHA members.

ECHA has a growing Facebook community. To join ECHA's Facebook group, please click HERE .

To access the European Talent Support Network (ETSN) homepage, please click HERE.


Further Information