History of ALLEA

Looking back on our history

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.

Representatives of 30 European academies of sciences meet for the first time at the KNAW in Amsterdam on 6 April 1990.

ALLEA academies’ representatives at the 25th Anniversary hosted by the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences in Bern on 9 May 2019. Credit: Eric Schmid

30 Years of Historical Milestones

ALLEA was established under the precept that the whole is more than the sum of the parts

Congratulatory Messages on our 30th Anniversary

Maria Leptin, President of the European Research Council (ERC)

Congratulations to ALLEA on this milestone! You can proudly mark three decades of remarkable work for collaboration across Europe and its neighbourhood with over 50 Academies of the Sciences and Humanities as members. Rooted in the tradition of the Enlightenment, ALLEA has stood up for universal science across borders, be they geographical or disciplinary, and for academic freedom, which is more important than ever today. Whilst the ERC is only just over half your age, our two organisations share many values and strive towards similar goals, not least fostering excellence in research. We are grateful to ALLEA for its unwavering backing of the ERC and its dedication to advancing blue-sky research across all fields over the years. Here’s to many more years of fruitful collaboration and to scientific curiosity! 

Koen Lenaerts, President of the Court of Justice of the European Union

ALLEA connects the talents present in Europe’s Academies of Sciences, sensu lato, being a bridge between cultures that have their own identity, yet respect and trust one another. It is this bridge function that enables ALLEA to underpin the search for the common good with scientific insights shared by a large cross-section of Europe’s academic ‘force de frappe’. This role is essential to cope with the challenges ahead of us, such as how to consolidate a pluralistic, tolerant and inclusive democracy in a digital environment where facts and fakes are not readily distinguishable; or how to reorient economic development and technological innovation towards sustainable energy supply and, more generally, climate-saving objectives. 

ALLEA’s work shows that science and policy choices are interdependent and that when Europe’s brightest join forces, Europe’s future looks bright indeed. Happy Thirtieth Anniversary, ALLEA, ad multos annos! 

Iliana Ivanova, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth 

As we commemorate both the 30th anniversary of ALLEA and the 40th anniversary of the EU framework programmes for research and innovation this year, we stand on the shoulders of those visionaries who recognised the profound value of pan-European cooperation in science and humanities. 

This is a moment to celebrate the crucial contribution of ALLEA and its member academies to enhancing international research collaboration through the European Research Area and other policies and initiatives. Achievements such as the European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity that is now guiding Horizon Europe projects or ALLEA’s instrumental work underpinning the European Commission’s Scientific Advice Mechanism showcase the power of international cooperation. 

Looking ahead, we need to keep reinforcing the role of science in society, reaching out to all talents and ideas across countries and disciplines, and laying the foundations of our future resilience in the face of global challenges. 

Happy birthday, ALLEA – let’s continue building a legacy of scholarly unity and scientific cooperation for the benefits of Europe and beyond.