On 28 November, EUA Secretary General Lesley Wilson participated in a roundtable discussion on the theme “Ideas are not Crimes: Defending Academic Freedom & Protecting Scholars”, hosted by MEP Wajid Khan from the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) in the European Parliament. Panellists, who also included EP Vice-President Mairead McGuinness (EPP), highlighted the numerous challenges to academic freedom and university autonomy in Europe and beyond and stressed the need to raise the profile of academic freedom in EU policies in general and the Union’s external actions in particular.
MEP Khan had initiated a recommendation on the “Defence of academic freedom in the EU's external action” to that effect, which calls on the European Council and Commission to take concrete measures, such as putting diplomatic pressure on countries that infringe upon academic freedom. The recommendation also urges for further protection of individual scholars and students with international protection status, by creating new initiatives within existing and future programmes such as Erasmus+, as previously proposed by EUA. The text was adopted in the European Parliament plenary the following day (29 November).
The ‘Ideas are not Crimes’ event also saw the official launch of the Scholars at Risk (SAR) Europe office, hosted by the University of Maynooth in Ireland. Scholars at Risk, with whom EUA cooperates closely, is an international network dedicated to protecting scholars and promoting academic freedom on a global level.