25 Years of ALLEA
Looking back on our history
Representatives of 30 European academies of sciences meet for the first time at the KNAW in Amsterdam on 6 April 1990.
ALLEA was established under the precept that the whole is more than the sum of the parts
The idea of establishing a network of European academies like ALLEA goes back to an initiative of the Royal Academies of the Netherlands and Sweden in the year 1990. New opportunities for co-operation between European countries arose after the end of the Cold War and the process of the European Union integration strongly affected the areas of science and higher education. An exploratory meeting among interested academies was held in Amsterdam in April 1990, where issues such as the advisory functions of academies, increasing communication and information sharing between academies, and the fostering of scientific and scholarly cooperation in Europe were discussed.
A subsequent meeting in Stockholm in March 1992, convened representatives from more than 30 Academies, from almost as many countries from all over Europe to discuss the possibility of establishing a confederation of learned societies to address the growing need for scientific advisory arrangements at the European level and to facilitate and promote cross-border cooperation amongst the European academies.
A third and final constituting meeting was held in Paris on 22-23 March 1994, where ALLEA was officially established as the European Federation of Academies of Sciences and Humanities, following the idea that Academies working together across Europe is more than the sum of its parts.
ALLEA’s Historical Milestones
In the years prior to the formal establishment of ALLEA, two decisive meetings took place at the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) in 1990 and at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in 1992. In these exchanges, academies from across Europe conceptualised a federation with the goal of fostering cooperation in research between the East and the West of Europe after the end of the Cold War. They agreed on the need for a joint endeavour to address common opportunities emerging from the increasing significance of the European Union in the areas of science and higher education.
22-23 March 1994
European academies celebrated the official foundation of ALLEA at the Académie des Sciences in Paris on 22-23 March 1994. The federation was established under the idea that the whole is more than the sum of the parts. Paul Germain, secrétaire perpétuel of Académie des Sciences, became the first President of ALLEA. The scientific discussion of the meeting was titled ‘Research in Nations of the New Europe’.
The first ALLEA working groups were established under the topics Basic Research in Society, Research Training and Higher Education in Europe, and Intellectual Property Rights.
The 4th General Assembly took place at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in 1996. Domokos Kosary, President of the hosting academy, became the second president of ALLEA.
During the first years of ALLEA, an increasing number of advisory activities and actions became visible at the European level and an ALLEA Advisory Group (future ALLEA Board) was created. The goal of the organisation was to articulate a European-wide consensus on national level science policy issues. Among its first publications was the report ‘Academic Research Career in Europe’ by the Working Group Research Training and Higher Education in Europe.
ALLEA celebrated its fifth General Assembly in Munich at the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities on 26-27 March 1998. Gerhard Gottschalk (Union of German Academies of Sciences and Humanities) assumed the Presidency of ALLEA (1998–2000). The Working Group National Strategies of Research in Smaller European Countries was established.
Pieter Drenth (KNAW) was elected ALLEA’s first statutory president for a three-year term during the sixth General Assembly celebrated in Prague at the Czech Academy of Sciences in 2000. ALLEA was also involved in the shaping of the sixth EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, and developed a number of international partnerships and memberships. The federation became observing member of the European Science Foundation (ESF) and council member of EASAC, which was established by national academies of EU member states for targeted scientific policy advice in selected scientific domains.
With financial subvention from the Dutch Government and substantial support of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), an ALLEA office was established, located at the Dutch academy in Amsterdam, and staffed by a part-time director and full-time secretary.
ALLEA celebrated its 10th anniversary in Brussels jointly hosted by the Royal Academy of Science, Letters and Fine Arts of Belgium, and the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and the Arts. Ten years after its foundation, ALLEA had become a reference for European science policy advice. Its activities were expanded with new working groups (Cooperation in European Science, Science & Media). Its membership was also broadened to a total of 47 members from 38 countries.
Beyond Europe, ALLEA worked towards raising the voice of academies in international fora such as the World Science and Technology Forum in Kyoto (2004) and the World Science Forum in Budapest (2005). New positions were released on research integrity and the 7th EU framework programme for research and innovation, among other topics.
Jüri Engelbrecht became the fifth President of ALLEA at the General Assembly in Amsterdam on 12-13 April 2006. The ALLEA Statute was revised to include two main decisions. The Presidency was expanded with a new Vice-President, Nico Mann (British Academy). ALLEA was transformed into an officially registered association (Vereniging), subject to Dutch law. Previous President Pieter Drenth was denominated as Honorary President of ALLEA.
In these years, ALLEA created new working groups (Evaluation for Science, Science Education) and worked with Member Academies to produce policy advice for the European Research Area and the establishment of the European Research Council in 2007. ALLEA also became a platform to foster regional cooperation with the Southeast of Europe. With this goal, the conference ‘Emerging Regional Cooperation: Southeast European Academies of Sciences and Humanities in the European Research Area’ was organised in Amsterdam at the KNAW on 18-19 October 2007.
The tenth General Assembly was hosted by the Institute of Spain (Madrid, 16-17 April 2008). On this occasion, Rüdiger Klein was designated Executive Director of ALLEA. The following year an ALLEA Extraordinary Strategy Meeting was held in Amsterdam to celebrate ALLEA’s 15th anniversary and to discuss the future of ALLEA initiatives.
A new working group led by the British Academy was created in 2010 to formulate recommendations for the inclusion of the Social Sciences and Humanities in European research and to foster interdisciplinarity. The Standing Committee on Intellectual Property Rights released several positions on the future patent system of the European Union and patenting in stem cells research.
ALLEA and the European Science Foundation (ESF) released the European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity. A preliminary version was presented at the World Conference on Research Integrity in Singapore the year before.
11-12 April 2012
After a transition of four months with an interim Presidency (Stefan Luby, Slovak Academy of Sciences, President; Marie Flanagan, Royal Irish Academy, Vice President), European academies agreed on a new strategy and roadmap for ALLEA, presented by Günter Stock (Union of German Academies of Sciences and Humanities). He was elected as the sixth President of ALLEA in Rome at the General Assembly hosted by the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei (11-12 April 2012).
During the 2012 General Assembly, Member Academies approved the relocation of the Secretariat to Berlin, in the premises of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities (BBAW). Daniela Jezova (Slovak Academy of Sciences) and Ed Noort (KNAW) were appointed Vice-Presidents. Matthias Johannsen was appointed Executive Director. The ALLEA Working Group E-Humanities was established.
The 14th General Assembly took place in Berlin at the BBAW on 29-30 April 2013 under the theme ‘Management of Large Data Corpora’. The new direction of ALLEA towards areas such as the digital agenda and intellectual Europe was further discussed. In these years, meetings with Commissioner for Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes and EU Director-General for Research and Innovation Robert-Jan Smits took place. ALLEA presented the initiative ‘In search of an intellectual Europe’ to the President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso.
9 April 2014
A new focus on activities surrounding the notion of a cultural and intellectual Europe beyond the political boundaries of the European Union was initiated with the first edition of the ALLEA Madame de Staël Prize, awarded to cultural historian Luisa Passerini on 9 April 2014. The prize was handed over to her by European Commission President José Manuel Barroso in an award ceremony in Brussels at the Academy Palace.
26 March 2015
Major steps towards establishing a new scientific advice system at the European level were taken. ALLEA facilitated and hosted a meeting between Academia Europaea, EASAC, Euro-CASE, FEAM and ALLEA. The European academy networks signed a Memorandum of Understanding, which was handed over to the Director General for Research and Innovation Robert-Jan Smits.
24-25 April 2014
ALLEA celebrated its 20th anniversary in Oslo at the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters on 24-25 April 2014 under the theme ‘Enabling early career researchers – needs for training of a new generation’. ERC President Jean-Pierre Bourguignon provided a keynote and congratulatory address on this occasion.
23-24 April 2015
The 2015 Madame de Staël Prize was awarded to political scientist Dame Helen Wallace (British Academy). The award was handed by the European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation Carlos Moedas. On this occassion, Moedas announced the integration of European Academies as a fundamental part of the new Scientific Advice Mechanism (SAM). The announcement was made during the 2015 ALLEA General Assembly hosted by the Academy of Sciences of Lisbon on 23-24 April. At this meeting, Günter Stock was unanimously re-elected for a second term as President of ALLEA. Both Vice-Presidents, Daniela Jezova and Ed Noort, were re-appointed.
13 December 2016
ALLEA, jointly with other European academy networks, launched SAPEA (Science Advice for Policy by European Academies). The initiative was designed as an integral part of the European Commission’s Scientific Advice Mechanism, alongside the Group of Chief Scientific Advisors (GCSA). Then ALLEA President Günter Stock was elected Chair of the SAPEA Board (2016-2017).
24 March 2017
ALLEA published the revised edition of The European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity, presented to the European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation Carlos Moedas in Brussels. The revised Code became a reference document in the Horizon 2020 Model Grant Agreement for research integrity. The document has been translated into most of European languages to help its implementation into national research policies.
16 May 2017
The 2017 ALLEA General Assembly became part of the ALLEA-Academia Europaea joint conference ‘Sustainability and Resilience’ at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in Budapest. On this occasion, the President of the Court of Justice of the European Union Koen Lenaerts received the 2017 Madame de Staël Prize.
16 May 2017
ALLEA’s Member Academies elected Antonio Loprieno (Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences) as the new President of ALLEA at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences on 4 September 2017. A new working group on Truth, Trust and Expertise was established, co-chaired by Baroness O’Neill of Bengarve (British Academy and Royal Society) and Ed Noort (KNAW).
ALLEA became outspoken on the topic of academic freedom in response to the various political infringements on academia in Hungary. Through statements, open letters and media interviews, ALLEA sought to raise the voice of European academies on the provision of a stronger protection for the autonomy of scientific institutions.
Antonio Loprieno assumed the Presidency of ALLEA at the General Assembly in Sofia and a new ALLEA Board was also elected on this occasion. In the first meeting of the new Board in Berlin, Hubert Bocken (Flemish Academy of Arts and Sciences), Graham Caie (Royal Society of Edinburgh) and Krista Varantola (Council of Finnish Academies) were elected as Vice-Presidents.
1-2 November 2018
ALLEA and Royal Society jointly held the pan-European conference ‘Flourishing in a data-enabled society’ in Buckinghamshire (UK) on 1-2 November 2018. The conference explored major opportunities and challenges that come with new uses of data, and discussed the potential trade-offs that stem from such uses across various sectors of society.
24 January 2019
ALLEA and the think-tank Re-Imagine Europa organised an international Democracy in a Digital Society forum hosted by the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities opened by past President of France Valéry Giscard d’Estaing and European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society Mariya Gabriel. In the event, ALLEA presented the work of its Working Group Truth, Trust and Expertise.
8-9 May 2019
ALLEA celebrates its 25th anniversary in Bern, hosted by the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences, as part of the 2019 ALLEA General Assembly. The event includes the Madame de Staël award ceremony for the 2019 laureate Mariana Mazzucato (University College London) and the scientific symposium ‘Science and Society in Present-day Europe’.