School of Transnational Governance

Meet the Presidents: EU Institutional Leaders to Visit EUI

Former Presidents the European Commission, European Council, European Parliament, European Central Bank and European Court of Justice will record their experiences of transnational government.

Over the coming months and years, former Presidents of EU institutions will visit the EUI to record their experiences at the head of European-wide decision-making.

In the first of the series of interview with different leaders, audiences will hear from Hans-Gert Pöttering, during whose time in office the financial crisis erupted, the Lisbon Treaty was signed and the EU embraced new Member States in the east.

Pöttering will give a public interview on 12 December during which EUI Researchers will be able to ask questions about the Presidents’ experiences in office. He will also privately record his experiences as part of an oral history project at the Historical Archives of the European Union.


Photo: The Historical Archives of the European Union

According to Dieter Schlencker, Director of the Archives, the aim is ‘to trace, via a standardised set of questions, the complete individual political career working for European institutions, including their motivations, career steps, key moments and achievements, but also failed projects.’

The Historical Archives of the European Union already hosts a unique collection of 600 interviews, produced during various oral history programmes on European integration and cooperation, as well as on European institutional memory. Such oral accounts of former European decision-makers ‘serve as additional source to the written records, provide further background information to historical events and add a human side to the archival records,’ explained Schlencker.


Photo: José Manuel Barroso with Dieter Schlenker on a visit to the Archives in 2014

Leaders Beyond the State will build on the oral testament the Archives has already collected. ‘These records are very much appreciated by researchers of all disciplines in social sciences. Those accounts that date after the year 2000 will be particularly interesting, as most European oral history programmes only reach up to the mid- or end of 1990s,’ said Schlencker.

The project will continue over the coming years with the aim to interview all living former Presidents of the European institutions. In addition to the interview with Hans-Gert Pöttering, visits by Jean-Claude Trichet, President of the European Central Bank (2003-2011), José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission (2004-2014) and Vassilios Skouris, President of the European Court of Justice (2013-2015) are planned for the next twelve months.

The public lectures are open to all. Please register to attend.