The concept of a ”European Academy of Sciences” was raised at a meeting in Paris of the European Ministers of Science in 1985. The initiative was taken by the Royal Society (UK) which resulted in a meeting in London in June 1986 of Arnold Burgen (UK), Hubert Curien (F), Umberto Columbo (ITA), David Magnusson (S), Eugen Seibold (Germany) and Ruud van Lieshout (NL) – who agreed to the need for a new body that could express the ideas and opinions of individual scientists from across Europe.

This body was seen to be a complement to the European Science Foundation in its role as a co-ordinator of the European interests of national research funding agencies and organisations. The objectives were kept deliberately broad covering the humanities, social and natural sciences, so as to ensure interdisciplinary discourse and activities. Initial modalities were to include annual meetings of members, multidisciplinary meetings, an interdisciplinary journal, a newsletter, providing independent advice, improving mobility of scholars within Europe and improving public understanding of science.

The new body was named the Academia Europaea and its Foundation Meeting was held in Cambridge in September 1988 under the first President, Arnold Burgen. Hubert Curien, who was at that time the French Minister of Science (and later became the second President of the Academia) arrived by helicopter and gave the inaugural address and provided the active support of the French government. The first Plenary Meeting was held in London in June 1989, by which time there were 627 members. The current numbers stand at over 3500 scholars elected from the continent of Europe and beyond.

Since 1998, there has been a period of remarkable changes to the scientific, political and economic landscape of the continent of Europe. The Academia Europaea has evolved within this environment, from its origins as an organisation of predominantly “western European” scholars, into a uniquely independent body – a truly pan-European Academy of Sciences, Humanities and Letters.

2012 saw further development, with the opening of a new regional Knowledge Hub in Wrocław, Poland. A second Hub in Barcelona was opened in 2013 – the 25th anniversary year of the founding of the Academia Europaea. In May 2014 we opened a third Knowledge Hub, in Bergen, Norway. During 2015 a fourth Hub was opened in Cardiff, Wales.

The Academia Europaea will

• promote a wider appreciation of the value of European scholarship and research,

• make recommendations to national governments and international agencies concerning matters affecting science, scholarship and academic life in Europe,

• encourage interdisciplinary and international research in all areas of learning, particularly in relation to European issues,

• identify topics of trans-European importance to science and scholarship, and propose appropriate action to ensure that these issues are adequately studied.

The Academia Europaea will endeavour to

• encourage the highest possible standards in scholarship, research and education,

• promote a better understanding among the public at large of the benefits of knowledge and learning, and of scientific and scholarly issues which affect society, its quality of life and its standards of living.