Provincial States critical about Studio Europa

Provincial States critical about Studio Europa

"The criticism from the States’ fractions did not come as a huge surprise."

23-02-2022 · Background

Doubts have been raised in the Provincial States about the usefulness and the relevance of Studio Europa, a UM expertise centre that promotes debate and research into Europe. Socialist Party SP calls it vague and elitist. Professor Mathieu Segers: “The provincial authorities appear to be a less stable partner than we thought, when it comes to European ambitions."

Studio Europa was founded in 2018 by the provincial authorities, the municipality and the UM. Since then, a team of ten UM employees have been organising lectures and symposia, and facilitating research into the European labour market, legislation, social inequality and the green transition. 

But what exactly does the expertise centre do and what has it actually yielded, some fractions in the Provincial States wondered last Friday. The reason for the discussion was the extension of the subsidy. D66 suggested a transfer of 2.5 million, but other parties felt this was going too far. It was mainly the Eurosceptical parties that were digging their heels in; Forum voor Democratie spoke of a “megalomaniac project with flimsy objectives”. But CDA also refused to change its mind.

The criticism from the States’ fractions did not come as a huge surprise, says Studio spokesperson Valentino Vondenhoff. “In a committee meeting shortly before, it was already apparent that several parties were critical and that it would be subject to debate.”

Maybe Studio Europa should explain better what happens? “Maybe it should, but that is my personal opinion,” says Vondenhoff. “It is clear that many States’ members are not fully aware of what we do

Studio Europa recently supported the organisation of the Citizens’ Summit on the Future of Europe, says Vondenhoff. “It was national news two weeks ago, not just in the Netherlands but also in Germany and Italy. That is partly why we have been founded, to make people aware of the fact that Maastricht is the perfect place for debate and research into Europe.”

For the coming months, we have also lots planned. For example, Sigrid Kaag, the new minister of Finance, will give a lecture on the EU strategy of the new cabinet on 8 March; in June, there will be the Beatrix Lecture, given this time by Elizabeth Gigou, former minister of European Affairs under Mitterand; and in September, we have planned a symposium about 30 years of the euro, with Klaas Knot, president of De Nederlandsche Bank.

This can all go ahead, because the expertise centre will not suffer financial problems immediately. The States’ fractions agreed with a subsidy of eight hundred thousand for this year. Whether the remaining 1.7 million will be transferred, is wait and see. 

The provincial authorities appear to be a less stable partner than we thought, when it comes to European ambitions, says professor Mathieu Segers, as Europa Chair. “And maybe the idea has emerged in the Provincial States that the UM is holding up its hand, but that is incorrect. It was the provincial authorities that wanted Studio Europa, they provided the funds.”

It was the same authorities, says Segers, who applied for a heritage label for the Maastricht Treaty. “Only two other places in the Netherlands have that, Westerbork and the Peace Palace. The Province is compelled to keep that heritage alive and to open it up to a wide audience. That assignment was put before us. So, that is what we will do. We don’t deal in university hobbies.”