In November 1948, with a European perspective and a combination of French and German educational traditions, Saarland University – back then bilingual – was founded. Saarland University was established under the aegis of France and the University of Nancy during a time when Saarland was semi- autonomous and economically bound to France through an economic and monetary union.
From the very beginning, it was the university҆s mission to support an “international atmosphere“ and to “bridge the gap between France and Germany”. One of the pioneers of the European integration movement, French Foreign Secretary Robert Schuman, was one of the first official visitors on campus.
“Europe! That is the word we choose as our watchword and motto when we call ourselves a European university […] and when we aim at turning Saarbrücken into a European crossroad.”
The institute then “took it upon itself to take an active part in the forming of Europe both by teaching courses on important European issues and by teaching them from a European point of view.”
In order to prepare young people from Saarland for the diplomatic service and a potential career in the administrative sector, a “diplomatic section” was established. Peter Scholl-Latour was one of the lecturers at that time.
In the referendum held on 23 October 1955, the people of Saarland refused to follow the Europeanization of the Saar proposed by Adenauer and Mendès-France. After the resolution of the “Saar question” through the treaty of Luxembourg, Saarland became part of the Federal Republic of Germany on a political level in 1957 and on an economic level in 1959. This political change had consequences for Saarland University as it was obliged to follow the transition from a “European” to a state-governed university.
Pursuant to these changes in the university҆s structure, the originally more culture and literature-oriented institute was transformed into a European research institute with a stronger orientation towards law and economics, under the direction of its first German director, Heinz Hübner.
Starting in the winter term of 1957/1958, students were given the possibility to attend an “in-depth study program in the area of inter-European relations and European organizations” which pursued the aim of preparing students for working at the European institutions. In 1972, the formerly independent institute became part of the faculty of law and economics.
The one-year post-graduate study program in law established in 1980 helped the Europa-Institut to become an outstanding institution with a strong national and international reputation that enables students from all over the world to improve their future job perspectives in a globally interacting world.
As a world-renowned competence center, the Europa-Institut still demonstrates the European tradition of our “Universitas Saraviensis” more than 65 years after its foundation.
Dr. Wolfgang Müller, University Archivist at Saarland University