European University Institute1972 (Florence [Italy])
Istituto Universitario Europeo Institut Universitaire Européen Europäisches Hochschulinstitut
The European University Institute was founded in 1972 by the European Community Member States. Its main objective is to provide advanced academic training to PhD students and to promote research at the highest level.;It carries out research in a European perspective (fundamental research, comparative research and Community research) in history, law, economics, political and social science. Its full-time teaching staff and 330 research students come from all countries of the European Union and further afield. It welcomes research students, for periods from one to three years, who wish to study for the Institute's doctorate (normally three years) or take the Ll.M. (one year's study) in comparative, European and international law, or in exceptional cases, spend one or two years' doctoral training at the Institute before defending a thesis in their home university.;The idea of a European Institution complementing the construction of Europe in the field of higher education appeared early on in the philosophies of the "founding fathers". It was already put forward in the programmes of the pro-European movements Congress of the Hague (May 1948) and during the European Cultural Conference (December 1949). The project however only took shape at governmental level on the occasion of the "relaunch" of Europe initiated by the Messina Conference (1955). Walter Hallstein, German Secretary of State for External Affairs, was then the promoter of a full-scale European University , to be inserted in the future Euratom treaty. In his initial conception, the University was to offer a training center for nuclear sciences and was to be a direct emanation of the Community Conceived as a fundamental instrument of integration, it would educate the elite of the up and coming generations in a spirit remote from nationalist views.;However, in spite of determined action on the part of the Italian government (G. Martino, A. Fanfani) and by the interim committee set up by the European Commission (chaired by Etienne Hirsch) as well as the support given by the European Parliament, all attempts to realise the European university failed, due mainly to its rejection by General de Gaulle and to the drastic opposition of national academic circles.;Stubborn defender of the idea of "Europe des Patries", the French government wished to avoid a university institution under community law and was anxious to preserve State perogatives in the sphere of awarding degrees. Along the lines of the project drawn up by Gaston Berger (Director General for Higher Education), Paris preferred to concentrate on co-operation among existing Member states national universities and on special recognition for their "European vocation". In particular, de Gaulle launched the Fouchet Plan, which had an important cultural facet. It was the occasion for the French Head of State to re-examine the question (Commission Pescatore) outside the framework of Euratom and in connection with cultural co-operation among the Six.;The reluctance of academics was the second obstacle to the European university project.The fear of German, Italian and Belgian universities was that the European University would lack adequate cultural roots to grow, attract the best students and drain public funds.;It was therefore in an inter-governmental framework that the Heads of State and of government met in Bonn on the 18 July 1961, then -after an interruption due to the "empty chair crisis" and a second relaunch, motivated by the university crisis in 1968 at the Hague on the 1st and 2nd December 1969, brought the project under study again recording their resolve to consecrate through a solemn commitment their participation in funding a "European University Institute in Florence". The two conferences which followed in 1970-71 in Florence and Rome, on the initiative of the Italian government, led to a project that in both size and content was more modest than the initial ambitions, as it would no longer have an institutional place within the Communities and the Institute to be created would only be reserved for post-graduate studies. The first attempts to tackle the education issue inside the European Commission oriented the difficult negotiations that followed and led to the signing by the Six in 1972 of a Convention creating an "European University Institute" on which the Ministers for Education had marked their agreement in principle during their first meeting within the Council of the Communities in November 1971.The three New Member States (United Kingdom, Ireland and Danemark) had in the meantime applied to join the Institute and partipate in the work of the preparatory Committee set up to put into place the administration, the personnel and profile definition to be conferred on the Institute.The Institute eventually opened its doors in November 1976 to its first 70 students/researchers.