Continuity and Change: Marise Cremona Bids Farewell to the EUI

Written by Ellen Halliday on . Posted in Current profiles, Profiles

Few professors elicit such warmth from their colleagues, students and peers as Marise Cremona. The lawyer, who steps down from her roles at the EUI’s Law Department and Academy of European Law this summer, has been at the EUI for more than a decade. During that time she has seen countless supervisees through their PhDs and has led the Department, the Academy of European Law and even the EUI itself during a one-year role as interim President.

Cremona arrived at the EUI in 2006, shortly after the Common Market Law Review published her famous article ‘The Union as a Global Actor: Roles, Models and Identity.’ The paper considered how the EU promoted its interests and constructed its policies, and outlined a number of the roles Europe could play in an international sphere moving forwards. It argued that, amongst other characteristics, the EU was a ‘stabiliser’: an exporter of values, promoter of international law and multilateral solutions, and developer of regional linkages and policies.

Professor Marise Cremona in her office at Villa Salviati

EUI President Renaud Dehousse and Law Professor Bruno de Witte recently spoke of Cremona’s ‘stabilising’ influence – a quality recognised across the Institute. As interim President, ‘she guided the EUI through a rocky patch,’ Jorrit Rijpma, one of Cremona’s first supervisees in Florence told EUI Times. Yet she also builds relationships, across faculty, the researcher community and the administrative staff.  ‘Professor Cremona is always very kind, as well as intellectually honest,’ said Rijpma. ‘She is always reassuring to her students. She believes in them,’ he said.

That much is clear. Amongst Cremona’s many guises at the EUI, she cherishes her role of helping young academics through their doctoral research the most. ‘A PhD defence is an incredibly important moment for [the researcher], but also for you as their supervisor,’ she told EUI Times. ‘You have a sense that this person has travelled a journey,’ she said, adding that she looks forward to working with her seven remaining supervisees as they complete their theses.

After ten years of post-graduate teaching in London, Cremona was taken aback by the enthusiasm EUI researchers have for their own projects. In her first ever seminar at the Institute, ‘it was very difficult to keep hold of the group because everyone was pulling it in different directions,’ Cremona explained. ‘But researchers here engage in their work with a real intellectual curiosity. This is one of the EUI’s great pleasures. There is much more of a dialogue going on here,’ she emphasised.

In this sense, the EUI is a remarkably European institution. ‘The EU is a complex actor with many players’, said Cremona. ‘People often see this as a negative thing, but it can be a strength as well.’ Whilst all international entities, even the unitary state, are complex, ‘the European Union wears its skeleton on the outside,’ argued Cremona. ‘Its complexity is more obvious and therefore more transparent,’ she said.

She recalls how, soon after the Lisbon Treaty, a spokesman for the European Union spoke publicly of the EU’s indecision over some international crisis. ‘He said, ‘the member states are still divided about this. We don’t quite know what we will do.’ A national government would never say that in public,’ said Cremona. ‘When the EU contests issues, it does so openly. So it is very powerful when the union has actually taken a common position,’ she said.

Marise Cremona with current and former supervisees

The unanimous affection for Cremona amongst a body of critically-minded academics is an equally striking testament to her role as a teacher, mentor and colleague at the EUI. Former supervisees flocked to Florence for a recent conference held in her honour. ‘Everyone wanted to chip in to get her a gift because she was always respectful and helpful, even to those who were not her students,’ said Rijpma.

Yet the good news for her colleagues and friends is that, whilst Cremona officially leaves the EUI, she has not yet completed her work in Florence. She is planning a research project working in the archives (HAEU) to examine early court cases which laid down fundamental principles of EU law and remain core to the EU’s legal constitution today.

Over many years of change in Europe and the EUI, Professor Cremona has been one of the constants which have shaped and guided the character of this Institute. Yet her legacy also extends much further, in the young academics she guided and who now themselves teach and work across this Union, whose law they examined together.

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