Brexit is shaking the very foundations of Europe. But it doesn’t have to be disastrous, according to Mathieu Segers, professor of Contemporary European History. It is revealing the fault lines between social classes and between member states, to be sure, but that yields insight. The real crisis concerns the integration ideal. This is crunch time – so how can Europe move past it? “National politicians really have to start engaging with the European project.”
It’s no modest mission: providing a platform for collaboration, fostering the exchange of ideas between researchers from different disciplines and facilitating research on European politics, law and history. The recently established Centre for European Research in Maastricht (CERiM) brings together researchers from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASoS) and the Faculty of Law (FL) to conduct collaborative research connected to recent global developments.
“It’ll be alright.” These were the reassuring words with which Taru Spronken took over the supervision of Wouter van Ballegooij’s PhD research in 2012. She hadn’t read a single page of the book he had been working on for seven years, but she was familiar with his expertise. The past three years have been a joy for him. “My dissertation was like a flower waiting to bloom. She drew it out into the light.”
Each March, Maastricht turns into a magnet for art lovers, collectors, curators and the rich and famous from all over the world. No fewer than 75,000 visitors descended on this year’s TEFAF, the world's largest art and antiques fair. For ten days, the city becomes the centre of the cultural universe – a universe that is becoming increasingly complex. To tackle this complexity, academics and professionals from the field of arts and heritage have joined forces in a new and unprecedented collaboration: the Maastricht Centre for Arts and Culture, Conservation and Heritage (MACCH).
She was born in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, grew up in Cologne, did European Studies at Maastricht University (UM) and obtained her LLM in Edinburgh. Mina Andreeva has now spent six years in Brussels, where she works as a spokesperson for the European Commission (EC). It would be hard for someone to feel more European. “Even as a young girl, I dreamt of life in the European political arena.”
In 2014, more than 140,000 asylum seekers made their way across the Mediterranean Sea towards the Italian islands of Lampedusa and Sicily. Thousands drowned en route. In summer 2015, the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) will come into effect. Will this centralisation of the approach to asylum issues across EU member states help to solve problems like those in Lampedusa? Khalid Koser, professor of Conflict, Peace and Security, and Maarten Vink, professor of Political Science, are moderately enthusiastic. “It provides a minimum standard”, says Vink. But according to Koser, “In practice a centralised system is a fantasy.”
On 12 September 1944 the first Allied troops set foot on Dutch soil, in the village of Mesch, near Maastricht. Their arrival marks the start of the liberation of the Netherlands and paves the way for the freedom that we enjoy today. Seventy years after the end of the Second World War, this freedom could easily be taken for granted. But this is not the only good reason to commemorate the past: it may even help to create a stronger sense of European identity.
"You know those moments when you have a good idea, but nobody seems to be interested? This time, it was different. It was the right moment." Hildegard Schneider, dean of the Faculty of Law, is happy – and with good reason. She is one of the initiators of the brand new Institute for Transnational and Euregional Cross-Border Cooperation and Mobility (ITEM). Researchers at this centre of expertise are not only studying the typical problems that arise in border regions, but also solving them. "We’re ambitious, and we have to be. Our findings could be extremely useful for the future of our province."