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Professor Brigid Laffan, a native of Kerry, was an early and proud graduate in European Studies from what is now the University of Limerick, where she is now Chancellor. She pursued further studies in the College of Europe, Brugge, and Trinity College Dublin, where she received her PhD in 1986. Following lectureships in the University of Limerick and the Institute of Public Administration, in 1990 she joined University College Dublin, where she carved out an academic leadership career of great distinction as Jean Monnet Professor of European Politics, Director of the Dublin European Institute, Principal of UCD College of Human Sciences and Vice-President of the University. In 2013 she moved to Florence to take up the position of Director of the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies at the European University Institute, retiring from this position in 2021. She recently succeeded Herman Van Rompuy as President of the European Policy Centre in Brussels.

Professor Brigid Laffan is an internationally-leading scholar of the dynamic of European integration and the EU as a polity. Her work has been recognised by leading peer associations, notably through the UK European Studies Lifetime Achievement Award (2014), the US European Union Studies Association Lifetime Achievement Award (2023) and the THESEUS Award for Outstanding Research on European Integration.

Professor Laffan’s scholarship on European integration is characterised by both depth and breadth. It spans big questions of EU development and fine-grained analysis of different institutions, policies and member states. She has significantly advanced three broad strands of research on European integration. First is her work on co-operation and integration, beginning with Cooperation and Integration in Europe (1992), one of the first volumes to analyse 1989 as a critical juncture. This was followed by Europe’s Experimental Union (1999), a truly interdisciplinary endeavour that made a major contribution to the theory of integration, alongside journal articles on identity, legitimacy and political order in Europe. The second strand of research covered EU public finances, the implementation of EU policies, social and cohesion policies, environmental policy and the domestic dimension of integration.  Thirdly came an extensive body of work on the EU in crisis over the last decade, including the Europe’s Union in Crisis: Tested and Contested (2018) and The EU’s Response to Brexit (2023).

Professor Laffan is renowned for the excellence of her work, based on her long career in EU affairs, and for her leadership in institution building, programme development and public engagement. She is a sought-after and widely respected commentator on EU issues, playing for example an important role in explaining Brexit to the public in recent years. She has led major cross-national research teams and secured over €6 million in competitive research funding during her career. She was a founder member of the Institute for International and European Affairs in Dublin and built considerable success and reputation for the College of Human Sciences in UCD, as its first Dean, and the Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, during her time as Director. In 2018, Politico named her as one of the top 20 women shaping Europe. Her contribution was also recognised by the President of the French Republic through the Ordre Nationale du Mérite. She was elected a Member of the Royal Irish Academy in 2005, and was awarded doctorates honoris causa from the National University of Ireland (2015), the University of Edinburgh (2017) and the University of Limerick (2022).