10 December 2018

Europe’s Shameful Silence – An Open Letter to EU Leaders from Jean Monnet Chairs

10 December 2018

Dear Presidents Juncker, Tajani, and Tusk,

We, the undersigned, all hold or have held Jean Monnet Chairs, an honorific title bestowed by the European Commission on university professors in recognition of excellence in teaching and research on European integration. We come from a wide variety of backgrounds, we live in countries across the EU and the world, and we have political views and partisan affiliations across a broad spectrum. For all our differences, one thing we have in common is a belief that the European Union (EU) should uphold its core democratic values as articulated in Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union, which states, “The Union is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities. These values are common to the Member States in a society in which pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality between women and men prevail.”

Because we share a commitment to a European Union based on democratic values, we are writing to you to express our profound disappointment and outrage about the EU’s failure to respond more robustly to recent developments in Hungary. On 1 December 2018, after a long running campaign of egregious harassment, the Hungarian government forced the Central European University to leave Hungary. The fact that an independent university could be expelled from an EU member state is a galling attack on academic freedom that contravenes the Union’s core democratic values. Sadly, we are accustomed to seeing such attacks on academic freedom in authoritarian regimes such as Russia and Turkey, but the fact that this could occur within the EU is a truly shameful moment in the history of European integration.

Of course, the blame lies primarily with the Hungarian government which orchestrated this attack as part of its broader assault on pluralist democracy – an assault well documented in the European Parliament’s Sargentini Report. However, your and other EU leaders’ inaction in the face of the Hungarian government’s attacks on the CEU has also contributed to making this possible. Not only has the EU failed to impose meaningful sanctions on Orbán’s government for these actions, his party Fidesz retains a stamp of approval as a member in good standing of the European People’s Party – a group with which all three of you are affiliated.

While the recent vote in the European Parliament to trigger Article 7(1) against Hungary marks an important step forward, more generally EU institutions have abjectly failed to stand up to the Orbán government’s repeated and sustained attacks on democratic values in recent years. And it is not as if we were not warned about what was to unfold.  In 2013, the Tavares Report called for decisive action and yet nothing meaningful was done. The eviction of the CEU reflects the fact that the Hungarian government has learned that it can violate EU norms with impunity, crossing every supposed ‘red line’ without facing meaningful consequences.

But enough is enough. We call on you to stand up for the democratic values on which the European Union is based. We call on all three of you – and the institutions that you lead – to issue strong denunciations of the Hungarian government’s expulsion of the CEU ahead of the next European Parliament elections. Moreover, we call on you, as prominent figures in the European People’s Party, to demand that the party’s leaders take immediate action to uphold the fundamental principles on which both the EPP and the EU itself are based and make it clear that there is no room in the EPP for parties like Fidesz that violate those principles on an industrial scale. What is at stake is not only academic freedom, but the opportunity of every EU resident to think, move and act within this unprecedented space of freedom, rule of law, and democracy that is the European Union.


Professor R. Daniel Kelemen, Jean Monnet Chair in EU Politics, Rutgers University

Professor Laurent Pech, Jean Monnet Chair of EU Public Law (2014-17), Middlesex University

Professor Alberto Alemanno, Jean Monnet Chair of EU Law and Regulation, HEC Paris


Prof. Dr. Luis Arroyo Jiménez, Jean Monnet Chair in European Administrative Law in Global Perspective, University of Castilla-La Mancha

Francisco Balaguer Callejón, Jean Monnet Professor ad personam of European Constitutional Law and Globalization, Universidad de Granada

Professor Gavin Barrett, Jean Monnet Chair of European Constitutional and Economic Law (2014-17), University College Dublin

Dr Giacomo Benedetto, Jean Monnet Chair in European Union Budget Policy, Royal Holloway, University of London

Professor Tanja Börzel,  Jean Monnet Chair in European Integration, Berlin Center for European Studies, Otto Suhr Institute for Political Science, Freie Universität Berlin

Professor Tamara Ćapeta, Jean Monnet Chair (2012 -16); coordinator of the Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence ‘EU’s Global Leadership in the Rule of Law’ since 2018, Faculty of Law, Zagreb University

Prof Giuseppe Cataldi, Full Professor of International Law, University of Napoli “L’Orientale” – Coordinator, Jean Monnet Network “MAPS – Migration and Asylum Policy Systems. Weaknesses, Shortcomings and Reform Proposals”

Professor Michelle Cini, Jean Monnet Chair in European Politics, University of Bristol
Beatriz Pérez de las Heras, Jean Monnet Chair of Interdisciplinary Studies on European Integration, University of Deusto (Bilbao, Spain)

Sergio Fabbrini, Dean, Department of Political Science, Professor, Politics and International Relations, Jean Monnet Chair in European Institutions and PoliticsLUISS Guido Carli, Roma

Professor Amelia Hadfield, Jean Monnet Chair in European Foreign Affairs, Canterbury Christ Church University

Tamara K Hervey LLB PhD FAcSS PFHEA, Jean Monnet Professor of European Union Law, School of Law, University of Sheffield

Amie Kreppel, Jean Monnet Chair, Department of Political Science, University of Florida

Michael LaBelle, Associate Professor and Jean Monnet Chair in Energy and Innovation Strategies, Central European University, Department of Environmental Sciences and Policy and Department of Economics and Business

Professor Brigid Laffan, Director Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, European University Institute (EUI), Jean Monnet Professor of European politics at University College Dublin, 1991-2004

Professor John O’Brennan, Jean Monnet Chair of European Integration, Maynooth University

Dr. Triantafyllia (Lina) Papadopoulou, Associate Professor of Hellenic and European Constitutional Law, Jean Monnet Chair for European Constitutional Law and Culture (2012-2015)

Professor Argyris G. Passas, Jean Monnet Chair in Public Administration and European Integration (2014-2017), Panteion University, Athens

Mark A. Pollack, Professor of Political Science and Law, Jean Monnet Chair, Director of Global Studies, Temple University

Dr Karolina Pomorska, Jean Monnet Chair, Leiden University

Uwe Puetter, Professor of European Public Policy and Governance, and formerly Jean Monnet Chair in European Public Policy and Governance, Central European University

Dr. Jorrit Jelle Rijpma, Associate Professor of EU law, Jean Monnet Chair in Mobility and Security in Europe (2017-20), Leiden Law School, Leiden University

Vivien Schmidt, Jean Monnet Professor of European Integration, Boston University

Professor Christina J. Schneider, Jean Monnet Chair of EU Politics, University of California, San Diego

Bernard Steunenberg, Jean Monnet ad personam chair in European Politics, and Chair in Public Administration, Leiden University

Amy Verdun, Jean Monnet Chair ad Personam, University of Victoria


If you are Jean Monnet Professor and wish to co-sign this letter and show your support, please leave a comment with your name and affiliation. Much appreciated!

SUGGESTED CITATION  Alemanno, Alberto, Kelemen, R. Daniel; Pech, Laurent: Europe’s Shameful Silence – An Open Letter to EU Leaders from Jean Monnet Chairs, VerfBlog, 2018/12/10, https://verfassungsblog.de/europes-shameful-silence-an-open-letter-to-eu-leaders-from-jean-monnet-chairs/, DOI: 10.17176/20181212-173407-0.


  1. K. Anton Mon 10 Dec 2018 at 14:09 - Reply

    Wer die Sargentini bzw Tavaresberichte als auf Wahrheit begründet ansieht, dem ist nicht mehr zu helfen. Professor für Irgendetwas, oder nicht.

  2. Thomas Giegerich Mon 10 Dec 2018 at 15:14 - Reply

    I wish to co-sign this letter and show my support.

    Thomas Giegerich, Jean Monnet Professor for European Integration, Antidiscrimination, Human Rights and Diversity (2017 – 2020), Saarland University, Germany

  3. Michael Holz Mon 10 Dec 2018 at 16:42 - Reply

    I see the Council as the main responsible for not being able to issue proper sanctioning. Article 7 requires unanimity in the council from a certain step onward and that is where the real problems begin.

    Nothing ever will go beyond this step as there will always be nations protecting the wrongdoing of other nations. In conclusion, the biggest obstacle for upholding European values are the nations themselves and their unwillingness to make unpopular decisions. Unfortunately, that unwillingness is understandable since the European Council is the strongest manifestation and prime example of a conflict of interest.

  4. Paul Blokker Mon 10 Dec 2018 at 20:29 - Reply

    I stand with CEU.

    Paul Blokker, Jean Monnet Chair in European Political Sociology, Charles University, Prague (2016-18).

  5. George A Bermann Tue 11 Dec 2018 at 01:59 - Reply

    I am fully onboard with this protest.

  6. Kiran Klaus Patel Tue 11 Dec 2018 at 07:32 - Reply

    Kiran Klaus Patel
    Jean Monnet Chair in European and Global History
    Maastricht University

  7. Maria-Luisa Sánchez-Barrueco Tue 11 Dec 2018 at 07:59 - Reply

    I stand with CEU

    María-Luisa Sanchez-Barrueco
    Jean Monnet Module Coordinator, Public Integrity and Accountability in the European Union
    University of Deusto

  8. Ramona Coman Tue 11 Dec 2018 at 09:05 - Reply

    Ramona Coman
    Jean Monnet Module “Rule of Law and mutual trust in global and European governance (2018-2021), Director of the Institute for European Studies (Université libre de Bruxelles), Jean Monnet Center of Excellence

  9. Sonja Bekker Tue 11 Dec 2018 at 09:21 - Reply