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European University Institute - Academy of European Law

AEL gathers high-level panel of presidents to celebrate Bruno De Witte

On 29 June 2023, the Academy of European Law (AEL) hosted a Presidents' Panel to honour Professor Bruno De Witte at the European University Institute's (EUI) Villa Salviati.

30 June 2023 | Event


Present at the event were Giuliano Amato, former Italian Prime Minister; Silvana Sciarra, President of the Italian Constitutional Court; Marta Cartabia, former President of the Italian Constitutional Court; Marise Cremona and Yves Mény, both former EUI Presidents, and Renaud Dehousse, the current EUI President.

All figures close to De Witte, the group discussed key themes related to his work and his contribution to EU law, as well as his personal character. 

"Your light is really illuminating us all," said Sciarra, addressing De Witte directly. "Your generosity and gentleness is combined with rigour."

Sciarra continued, "You are giving us strength to look ahead with fresh ideas on the future of Europe and European integration."

Bruno De Witte is currently an Emeritus Professor of European Union Law at Maastricht University, and a Visiting Fellow at the Robert Schuman Centre at the European University Institute. He was Professor of EU Law at the EUI, and Co-director of the Academy of European Law, from 2000 to 2010. Prior to this, he was a professor at Maastricht University from 1989 to 2000. De Witte studied law at the University of Leuven and the College of Europe and obtained a PhD at the EUI in 1985 on 'The Protection of Linguistic Diversity through Fundamental Rights'.

"As a student of Bruno, one of the things that I most appreciated was that he is very naturally respectful of others' inclination," said Cartabia. "He made me understand what I was looking for. This is something that we as professors would like to become for our students."

"Bruno is a combination of sharp and blunt," said Cremona. "He has the ability to hone in when you are talking, and he is able to ask a question that goes right to the centre and helps you strengthen an argument."

The President's Panel was a special event held in the context of the two-week Academy summer course on 'The Law of the European Union', which was convened and delivered by close collaborators of De Witte. The General Course on 'EU Law and Utopia' was delivered by Neil Walker, Regius Professor of Public Law and the Law of Nature and Nations, University of Edinburgh, who co-moderated the panel together with Deirdre Curtin, EUI Professor of European Law and Dean of Graduate Studies. In addition, there were six specialised courses on 'Revisiting the Fundamentals of EU Law', exploring themes linked to De Witte's work.

"He's an exceptional person, in the sense that in Italian he is very 'simpatico' to others," shared Amato. "He knows how to be accepted by others and somehow to be enjoyed by others, which is a very rare quality."

EUI President, Renaud Dehousse, added "His legacy will not necessarily be only in the form of scholarly work, but also in the analyses that he has produced that will help us to better understand the Institute. He is a distinguished scholar of the Institute, reflecting upon a collective endeavour."

Also speaking directly to De Witte, Mény said, "You are deeply rooted in your own national culture but you are completely open to other differences and always marked by this respect and diverse dimension."

In a short address to the panel, De Witte thanked the presidents, "They are not just presidents, they are also people who continue to think even while they are presidents. Thank you for all of the things you have said."

He continued, "Despite having been here for such a long time, there was always this feeling of the temporary nature of being here. I think this is a shared feeling at the EUI. There is always the sense that this is a temporary place. This is what makes the EUI special. You have this plurality of approaches and ideas."

De Witte's academic life has spanned almost the entirety of the EUI's history. In addition to the distinctive intellectual contribution he has made over the course of his career, panellists also discussed the opportunities and challenges presented to the EUI today, compared with those present when it was established in the 1970s.


The Academy of European Law promotes teaching and scholarship in the fields of European Union Law and Human Rights Law. It offers advanced-level summer courses in Human Rights Law and The Law of the European Union, manages several important research projects, and runs a publications programme.

Presidents' Panel: A celebration of Bruno De Witte

Last update: 24 June 2024

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