Short CV :
Since July 2009, Kurt is the Secretary-General of the League of European Research Universities (LERU), an association of twenty-one leading research-intensive universities (Oxford, Cambridge, Leiden, Leuven, Heidelberg, etc). Before joining LERU, he was the chief legal advisor (2004- 2007) and the chief of staff (2007-2009) of the Flemish Minister for Public Works, Energy, Environment and Nature. He is also a professor of law (however on parttime leave since 2007) at the University of Leuven, the university where he studied law (1984-1989), obtained his PhD in Law (1989- 1995) and spent (until now) his whole academic career.
Furthermore, he is an honorary professor of law at the University of Malta and the University of Dundee, was awarded the Hou-De Honorary Chair at the National Tsing Hua University in Taiwan, and has been a visiting professor of law at the Universities of London, Sydney and Singapore. Kurt published extensively in the field of EU Environmental, Energy and Climate Change Law, and is the editor of several leading bookseries and journals in that field. Finally, he chairs the Board of Directors of the Flemish Energy Regulator (VREG), is chair of the Flemish Environmental Damages Commission, co- chair of the Malta Legal Forum on Adaptation to Climate Change, and is on the board of a number of profit (MRBB, AIF) and non-profit (I-Cleantech) organisations in Belgium.
The creation of ERA has always been at the centre of LERU’s attention, ever since its inception in the year 2000. Therefore LERU enthusiastically welcomed the European Commission’s initiative in 2012 to join forces in a partnership of stakeholder organisations to further realise ERA, and has worked hard over the past years to live up to the ERA Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) it signed with the EC in July 2012. In implementing the MoU, (1) LERU encouraged its members to carry out actions to deliver on twelve ERA topics agreed in the MoU, (2) LERU engaged pro-actively with the Stakeholder Platform for the purpose of consultation, and (3) LERU shared with the European Commission information to monitor the implementation of the MoU. LERU gave an overview of its MoU implementation in a 2014 Briefing Paper “LERU takes concrete steps towards ERA”.
The collaborative partnership with the EC and the ERA platform stakeholder organisations has been a positive experience for LERU. Therefore LERU is willing to continue with this ERA partnership in the following years, and is committed to develop appropriate initiatives on the part of universities to help realise ERA. A large number of suggestions for doing so have been made in a May 2014 Briefing Paper “An ERA of Change”, drafted in particular for the incoming European Parliament and European Commission.
LERU hopes that the EU member states and others, including research funders, will also contribute their share towards realising the ERA objectives. We hope that they will take ambitious measures, inspired by the LERU papers, to support and enable universities to help achieve a better functioning ERA. Therefore LERU looks forward to the national ERA roadmaps, to be developed by mid 2016.
LERU and its universities are willing to support and inspire the future ERA process. However, on a number of issues, such as social security and pensions, open access and data protection, universities are simply not in the driver’s seat, because national or European legal initiatives are required in these cases. LERU therefore hopes that appropriate measures will be taken at the national and EU level to eliminate these obstacles to ERA.