epa was founded in 1985 by seven European news agencies. The agencies ANP of Holland, ANOP (now Lusa) of Portugal, ANSA of Italy, AFP of France, belga of Belgium, dpa of Germany and EFE of Spain were motivated by what they saw as a lack of alternatives to the Anglo-Saxon picture services offered at the time.
Originally conceived as a vehicle to exchange the pictures of the member agencies’ domestic service, it also included the world service of AFP and other European services and suppliers. It expanded to a more independent entity as Eastern Europe opened up. The opening of these new markets, along with the war in the former Yugoslavia, led epa to employ its own photographers in those regions. Despite these developments, epa remained under the auspices of their member/owners whom they exclusively served.
epa shareholders and epa going global
By 1995 epa had ten members with the additions of KEYSTONE later in 1985, APA of Austria in 1986, and Lehtikuva of Finland in 1987. Pressensbild of Sweden joined in 1997 followed by Scanfoto (later Scanpix Norway) of Norway and Nordfoto (later Scanpix Denmark) of Denmark in 1999. pap of Poland joined epa in 2001.
In early 2003 after extensive restructuring and the departure of AFP, epa successfully made its service available to the worldwide market. Later in 2003 Lehtikuva, Scanpix Denmark/Norway and Pressensbild decided not to continue as a shareholder of epa. However, Scanpix Norway, Sweden and Denmark continued cooperation with epa under the name of Scanpix Scandinavia. ANA of Greece (now ANA-MPA) joined epa as a shareholder in 2004 followed by mti of Hungary in 2005.
Today epa has nine shareholders, all being market leaders in their respective countries:
- Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA-MPA) in Greece
- Algemeen Nederlands Persbureau (ANP) in the Netherlands
- Agenzia Nazionale Stampa Associata (ANSA) in Italy
- Austria Presse Agentur (APA) in Austria
- Agencia EFE in Spain
- KEYSTONE in Switzerland
- Lusa – Agência de Notícias de Portugal in Portugal
- Magyar Távirati Iroda (MTI) in Hungary
- Polska Agencja Prasowa (pap) in Poland
Along with the coverage from its shareholder countries, epa has expanded its service to include coverage of North America, South America (via EFE Spain), Eastern Europe, Middle East, Africa, and Asia.