9 juin 2022

16ème Prix Arenberg-Coimbra Group, Padoue

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The 2022 Arenberg-Coimbra Group Prize for Erasmus students was officially awarded to Marie Bakken (University of Bergen, Erasmus+ exchange at the University of Salamanca) at the Annual Conference that took place at the University of Padua from 7 to 10 June 2022.

While a final year Master student in Law, Ms Marie Bakken spent a six-month Erasmus study period at the University of Salamanca (Spain). The new courses she attended there, and the vivid intellectual interactions entailed by such academic exchange, directly inspired her for the subject of her Master thesis which European dimension has been very much welcomed by the Prize selection committee.

“I am so grateful for this recognition, and this gives me even more motivation to keep working for the legal protection of human rights across Europe”, Marie said when learning about her award. Of all the nominees, she made the most comprehensive and convincing case for the added value of the Erasmus experience. In her particular situation, this included for example actively engaging with the European Law Students’ Association.

This year there have been nineteen nominations from fourteen Coimbra Group Universities in a wide array of disciplines. The other nominees were commended for providing other excellent examples of the impact an Erasmus mobility experience can have on one’s academic journey.

The selection committee consisted of Professors Lenka Rovná from Charles University in Prague (chair), Cláudia Cavadas from the University of Coimbra, and Dorota Malec from the Jagiellonian University in Krakow.

A video message from the Duke of Arenberg and one of Marie Bakken were projected during the General Assembly.

Speech by Leopold, Duc d'Arenberg

Ladies and Gentlemen, dear rectors, professors and students of the Coimbra Group, Mesdames et messieurs, meine Damen und Herren, geachte dames en heren, signori e signore, carissimi amici del bel paese,

Thank you for being with us today as we are awarding the 2022 Arenberg-Coimbra Group Prize, which recognizes the academic value of the Erasmus student exchanges.

Sfortunatamente, non era possibile per me venire a Padova come l’ultima volta per la quinta distribuzione del premio Arenberg Coimbra il 26 maggio 2011 perché ho dovuto rimanere in Belgio per presentare un libro storico nella città di Liège e anche perché abbiamo l’assemblea annuale della Fondazione Arenberg nella città di Enghien.

2022 is, again, a very special year for all of us since the pandemic is still going on.

But more to that, war came back to Europe, the last time being the Balkan wars between 1991 and 2001.

In 1992, the American political scientist Francis Fukuyama published his famous book “the end of History and the last Man”.

In 2007, Nassim Nicholas Taleb published another famous book “The black swan” emphasizing that everything is possible, that nothing is ever granted, that life is a never ending movement for the better or for the worse.

For the younger students, let us remember a few milestones of the first twenty years of the XXIst century: 
September 11th 2001 and the attack of the twin towers in New York, one of the reasons for the wars in Afghanistan and in Irak
September 15th 2008 and the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the major financial crisis so far in the new century
September 12th 2019 and the sudden shutdown of the Wuhan military lab specialising in Coronavirus studies, the beginning of a pandemic that has already caused the death of more than six million human beings
February 24th 2022 and the beginning of the Russian war on Ukraine.

At the Arenberg Foundation we promote History, the summary of all human knowledge, to remind us to be at the same time, modest, and curious, modesty and curiosity being two cardinal virtues that should be promoted in all our Universities.

A good knowledge of History gives us some psychological and emotional stability at a time when we are overwhelmed with a 24/7 avalanche of information, the bad news generally prevailing over the good news since this is the business model of the media world.

«Wer nichts weiss, muss alles glauben» sagt man auf deutsch. But if you are knowledgeable, you are not forced to believe everything and you can ask yourself the right questions at the right moment.

For the rest, let us just observe that all trends observed in the last couple of years continue, namely:
-    The breathtaking inventions made in the medical sector thanks to the MrNA technology developed by BioNTech and Moderna
-    The growing consciousness of the necessity to build  a European Defense Community with a pan-European army
-    The possibility of homeworking, at least one or two days a week
-    The strong American cultural influence in Western Europe with the so-called “Woke” and “Cancel Cultures”.

Our Arenberg Coimbra Group Prize for Erasmus students has been awarded every year since 2007, the first time being in Turku (Finland) 15 years ago and much before any other international recognition of Erasmus activities.

As I said last year and will continue to say, Erasmus mobilities play a crucial role in strengthening the European integration and identity from the bottom-up. Nothing replaces face-to-face contact. This shall encourage us - I mean the Arenberg Foundation and the Coimbra Group - to continue enhancing and promoting the circulation of students and researchers within Europe.

La Fondation d’Arenberg fait la promotion de l’Histoire et de la Culture dans un esprit résolument européen à partir de la ville belge d’Enghien/Edingen in het Nederlands waar de nederlandstalige mensen altijd welkom zijn.

Nous mettons un grand fonds d’archives familial à disposition des chercheurs qui viennent de toute l’Europe. Nous organisons des concerts, des conférences, des séminaires, des rallyes automobiles culturels ; nous organisons aussi ou participons à des expositions comme celles qui viennent de se tenir à Beaune (France), Essen (Allemagne) ou Thorn (Pays-Bas).

Nous attribuons différents prix, à savoir deux prix d’Histoire tous les deux ans depuis 1992, le prix Arenberg-Coimbra qui encourage la mobilité estudiantine entre les universités européennes du Coimbra Group dans le cadre du programme Erasmus, et enfin the Arenberg Instituto de Empresa European Legal Challenge. El ano pasado, la Fundacion Arenberg y el prestigioso Instituto de Empresa, Madrid tomaron la decision de crear un cuarto premio que està recompensando los proyectos relacionados con problemas juridicos en un marco europeo comun de referencias.

Nous travaillons enfin sur un prix d’Histoire dans les écoles européennes et j’espère pouvoir vous en dire davantage l’année prochaine.

Nous publions – ou contribuons également à publier – des livres, plus d’une trentaine à ce jour.

En 2020, nous avons publié quatre ouvrages et nous allons en publier cinq en 2022. Among others, a book on nine women who served in the US army in Afghanistan and Iraq where they got wounded, sowohl als auch ein Buch über das Leben der Menschen in der Grafschaft Blankenheim und im Herzogtum Arenberg als Nachbarn bis zur französischen Revolution.

D’autres livres suivront, à savoir un ou deux livres consacrés à l’action bienfaisante des papes au cours de l’Histoire, un livre sur la correspondance entre Mirabeau et le comte de La Marck en 1790, un livre sur les ‘fakes news’ à la Renaissance, un livre sur la mode à la même époque et j’en passe.

Si nous nous donnons autant de peine pour contribuer modestement à faire l’Europe d’en bas, celle des citoyens, c’est avec l’idée de contribuer à leur réapprendre à penser par eux-mêmes, à penser autrement, à penser dans le long terme et à penser, à nouveau, en termes de géo-politique.

Let’s talk now about the student and researcher of the day, about Ms Marie Bakken from the University of Bergen (Norway). She was a Master student in Law and spent her six-month Erasmus exchange at the University of Salamanca in Spain in the academic year 2019-2020.  During her studies in Spain, Marie Bakken took various courses at the Faculty of Law including Criminal Law, Human Rights, Immigration Law, Military Law, Criminal Politics and Psychology in Law. It is clearly her discussions in Salamanca with her professor in international Legal Procedural Cooperation that have led her to dedicate her Master’s Thesis to the analysis of extradition laws and practices between Norway and the EU. 

While studying in Salamanca, Ms Marie Bakken also engaged in volunteering activities with a European dimension. She served as board member of the European Law Student’s Association (ELSA). Through this engagement, she could attend various meetings across Europe, thus experiencing different legal cultures and creating friendships all over the continent. She also got selected as finalist in the European Economic Area Moot Court Competition 2020, quite an achievement. Today, Ms Bakken is still engaged with EU law and human rights, working as an associate in a Norwegian law firm after serving for one year as legal advisor in the municipal administration of the city of Stavanger in South-Western Norway.

Ms Marie Bakken is the sixteenth laureate of the Arenberg-Coimbra Group Prize. We warmly congratulate her for her achievement and wish her a long and successful career.

This Prize is an annual award and today I would like to encourage all eligible candidates from Coimbra Group universities to apply as we will be launching the 2023 edition at the beginning of the next academic year.

Sincerely yours, muito obrigado pela sua paciência, molte grazie e all’anno prossimo con piacere per una nuova edizione del nostro premio Arenberg Coimbra Group.

For the Arenberg Foundation
Duke of Arenberg
Pully, June 10th 2022