The signing of the Maastricht Treaty marked the first step towards the establishment of the European Union (EU) as we know it today. Now, 25 years later, it is time to take stock. Has the EU lived up to expectations? Is it up to the task of addressing the problems of our time – the euro crisis, the refugee crisis, Brexit and rising anti-European populism, with Trump as just the latest variation on this theme? Has the ideal of an integrated Europe become obsolete? We asked a number of Maastricht professors for their views on the institution under fire. Monica Claes, professor of European and Comparative Constitutional Law, and Bruno de Witte, professor of European Law, set the ball rolling.
Anyone who followed the media coverage of Rianne Letschert over the last six months could draw but one conclusion: she is an angel on Earth. The new UM Rector Magnificus as of 1 September bursts out laughing when she hears this. “I’m no Mother Theresa.” Later she says, “People do think I’m nice, I think, but I can be tough if something isn’t right. I’m also very impatient, especially if things are moving more slowly than they could. Take the number of women in leadership positions: I always used to see quotas as something for fishing, but I might need to change my mind about that.”
From the moment you step inside, it is clear you’ve entered the domain of collectors. Law professors René de Groot and Hildegard Schneider collect everything from old books, shells, ostrich eggs and fossils to textiles and old-fashioned crocheting. But their special passion is reserved for non-European art and utensils: over the last 35 years, they have amassed an overwhelming collection of tribal art. “We’re not great at setting limits”, says De Groot. “That’s a nice quote, isn’t it?”
Ton Hartlief, professor of Private Law, has been named best teacher by his students in Maastricht and best liability lawyer in the Netherlands by his professional peers. He became a professor in Leiden at the age of just 29, and recently – still shy of his 50th birthday – took up one of the highest posts available to a lawyer: advocate general at the Supreme Court of the Netherlands. An academic at heart, he remains level-headed: “It’s all a matter of hard work and a bit of luck.” Here he looks back on a successful career.
External PhD candidate Bronwen Manby, a British lawyer, visiting fellow at the London School of Economics and consultant, is committed to improving the fate of stateless persons on the African continent and ensuring the right to a nationality for all, as promised by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. "Without proof of nationality of course you can’t vote or stand for office, but you may also not be able to access public health care or education, or even get a sim card, a bank account or a job in the formal economy."
While your average student is enjoying a beer in the sun on this sultry summer evening, Xavier Köhlen is working up a sweat at boxing club De Amateur in Munstergeleen. The 23-year-old Limburger of Moluccan descent is not only a top boxer with a cabinet full of trophies, but also a second-year student of Tax Law at Maastricht University (UM) and a fourth-year student of Sport and Physical Education at the Eindhoven University of Applied Sciences.
Yuri Michielsen is a man of many talents. A brilliant legal scholar. Graduate of Maastricht University’s (UM) European Law School, winner of the Best Speaker Award at the European Law Moot Court, and holder of a master’s degree from Harvard and a PhD cum laude from Maastricht. Now, this champion of the Limburgish language is about to receive a second PhD, this time in clinical psychology, in San Francisco.
“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.”