Thinking about Europe

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Want to turn away for a moment from your research? The European Commission has just published the Thinking about Europe: Jean Monnet support to European studies. Here you can find an excerpt of the publication entitled “A house full of books”



Interview by Marc Maresceau

A house full of books

“One day, his house is going to fall down on him for the weight of his books,” fellow bibliophile Péter Balázs says of his friend Marc Maresceau.

Maresceau met with the European Commission at the time when the first European Documentation Centres were being established. Maresceau’s university, Ghent University in Belgium, was an obvious target, not just because it was one of the first EU universities that put European studies among the obligatory courses for law students, but also because of his love of books.

Maresceau got his degree from Ghent University in 1971 – specialising in European law – but somewhat unexpectedly for a lawyer, he had a strong aversion to big dossiers. When the Jean Monnet programme finally took off in 1989, there wasn’t a great temptation for him to sit down with the paperwork needed for a grant.

“Colleagues from big universities were hesitant initially, like me. Later, when I wanted to set up a project with Alan Dashwood of the University of Cambridge, he reacted similarly. But in Law and Practice of EU External Relations – which we edited and which became as close to a bestseller as you can get in our field of study – we were the first to acknowledge that without the Jean Monnet programme, publishing it would simply not have been possible.

“Although Jean Monnet financial support is always an important incentive to set up a project and bid for additional and new funding, in my academic experience, the money itself was not what made the programme most worthwhile. A Jean Monnet project is a strong qualitative boost to the international network it creates. Such networks are indispensable in our field. Teaching and research in European law, because of its very nature, cannot develop in a parochial way. Developing these networks and institutionalising contacts is exactly what the Jean Monnet programme helped to accomplish and it did so with tremendous success.”

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