The academic council of the College of Europe had given the thumbs up to Federica Mogherini to be its new rector despite being the only candidate and allegedly not being qualified for the role.
The College is a training ground for top EU officials and its council endorsed her application, making it almost certain that she will be confirmed in June. She will be the first female rector of the College.
Her candidacy was not without controversy, however. A number of alumni, professors and EU officials said the Italian politician is not qualified for the post, doesn’t meet the criteria and entered the race for the post, months after the deadline of 30 September 2020. Members of the council have been accused of ignoring well-qualified candidates in favour of Mogherini.
According to a report from the selection committee, none of the original candidates had managed to obtain the support of at least half of the members by November 2019. A smaller “search committee” was then established to “enlarge the pool of candidates”. The panel managed to enlarge the pool by a total of one person- Mogherini.
She was interviewed on 30 April and it was unanimously agreed that she “undoubtedly offered the best combination of qualities in view of leading the college and that therefore none of the already interviewed candidates should be (re)considered.”
Mogherini has a master’s degree in political science from Rome Sapienza university plus a year of research in France as a part of the EU Erasmus programme. She also has an honorary degree from the University of Tampere in Finland.
Previous rectors have been professors with a PhD and a long academic track record. The job listing said that candidates should be able to demonstrate “substantial academic qualities in the field of European studies, proven experience of the administration and management of an academic structure of some complexity and should be able to combine the pursuit of academic excellence at international level with sound budgetary management.”
Critics have said that her appointment seeks to further tarnish the limited trust left in the EU and is “another illustration of failed and out of touch leadership in the Continent.”
Mogherini has served as the Vice-President of the European Commission and Italy’s Minister for Foreign Affairs. She has no academic experience.