From Henri Rieben’s dissertation to the Jean Monnet Foundation for Europe
The world’s first Chair of European Integration was created in 1957, within the HEC faculty at the University of Lausanne. It was awarded to Professor Henri Rieben, who continued to teach there until his retirement in 1991. It was after the publication of his dissertation dedicated to the evolution of the steel industry and entitled Des ententes de maîtres de forges au Plan Schuman (From the smithy masters’ agreement to the Schuman Plan), in 1954 in Lausanne, that Henri Rieben met Jean Monnet, who was the inspiration behind the first European Community (the European Coal and Steel Community) and would change the destiny of the continent. The two men became friends and colleagues, working together for almost 25 years. Jean Monnet created the Foundation that bears his name in 1978 in Lausanne and entrusted it with all his archives, giving it the mission of becoming a living testimonial to European reconciliation and union.
Appointed to this position by Jean Monnet himself, Henri Rieben was president of the Foundation until 2005. Bronisław Geremek, the holder of the Chair of European Civilisation at the College of Europe (Natolin) and former Polish foreign minister, succeeded him from 2006 to 2008. Today, the Foundation is presided over by José Maria Gil-Robles, holder of the Jean Monnet Chair at the University of Madrid and former president of the European Parliament and the European Movement International.
In accordance with its founder’s express wish, the Foundation is an independent institution with a purely public purpose and is located at the heart of the Dorigny campus, maintaining a range of cooperative links with the University of Lausanne. Many teachers, researchers, heads of public and private organisations from around the world come in large numbers to visit the Foundation and consult its resources. Jean Monnet’s archives have been joined by those of countless other pioneers of the European integration. A media library, conventional library and a documentation centre have all been developed. The Cahiers rouges, established in 1957 by Henri Rieben, are still published and distributed today. Introductory courses in European integration are given at the university. In recent years, the Foundation has also strengthened its mission as a meeting place, a place for reflection and exchanging ideas on the major issues for Europe and for peace. Specialists from both the academic and practical worlds regularly come to Dorigny to attend its European dialogues and colloquiums. A Gold Medal is regularly awarded by the Foundation to leading figures who have worked for the common interest of all Europeans. The last three recipients of this distinction were President Romano Prodi, Chancellor Helmut Kohl and Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker.
In March 2010, the Vaud cantonal parliament approved plans to enlarge the Dorigny Farm site, a State property made available for the Foundation’s use. On completion of the work, planned for 2011, the Foundation will also be able to welcome the first beneficiaries of the Henri Rieben Bursary for advanced researchers, dedicated to the memory of the visionary teacher who was its first president. Strengthened by renewed support from the Canton of Vaud, the Swiss Confederation, the city of Lausanne and the Swiss and European regions surrounding it, the Foundation intends in the future to further develop its vocation of being a “mecca for testimony and inspiration”, in the words of Jacques Delors.
For more detailed information, please refer to the Foundation’s website: www.jean-monnet.ch