- Posted February 21, 2013 by
Protest against granting the title of Doctor Honoris Causa for Gunter Verheugen There is no honor in political awards camouflaged in academic events – no to dirty lobbying
Cluj Napoca, Romania, 20 February, 2013
A few dozen Romanian citizens protested today against granting the title of Doctor Honoris Causa (DHC) to Gunter Verheugen, a former European commissioner, notorious for his conflict of interest sanctioned by the European Commission. Romanian top politicians attended the event – the prime minister Victor Ponta, the mayor of Cluj Napoca – Emil Boc (former prime minister), a few ministers and local politicians.
Gunter Verheugen was a highly influential European commissioner between 1999 – 2010, leading the Commission for Enlargement (1999-2004) and the Commission for Enterprise and Industry (2004 – 2010).
Based on ethical reasons, in 2011, the European Commission decided1 to restrain the activity of the former commissioner, who became a lobbyist, by banning his access to public institutions he previously had access to, for almost two years.
According to media information, the title of DHC was based on a proposition from the European Studies Faculty – Babes Bolyai University, for Verheugen's substantial contribution to the enlargement of the EU and the Romanian integration into the EU, giving Romania “the chance for modernization and integration within the rhythms of evolution of the XXI century”. Gunter Verheugen received the highest academic
distinction based on political criteria and not based on academic or professional achievements.
The messages of the protest exposed the political distortion of the event as well as the
questionable reputation of Verheugen. The protesters consider that the integration of Romania into
the EU was realized through a humiliating process, having no reflection of the economical, social and environmental needs of Romania. The integration did not lead to welfare and development as it is clearly shown by the reality of the Romanian society. Therefore Verheugen does not deserve the distinction of DHC.
Also, the unhealthy association of Verheugen, during his mandate of Commissioner for Industries, with companies and industries known for their dirty practices, also contributes to the reasons of the protest.
Verheugen was consistently contested by the civil society in Europe for promoting genetically modified organisms2, shale gas3 and the extractive non energetic industry4. The protest was addressed to Gunter Verheugen, the Public University Babeş Bolyai and to all politicians who attended the event, with no exception.