about the union...

The EUI researchers’ union is as a grass-root initiative born out of necessity and solidarity. Our concern over economic inequalities initially brought us together to take action towards the Institute’s unfair payment scheme in the fall of 2021. Throughout the year, we held monthly assemblies with democratic procedures and built a campaign pushing for change within the university and across member states. In May 2022 we collectively drafted a statute, with an overwhelming amount of votes in favour, and officially became a Union. Though our fight started with grant inequality, we have now diversified the avenues of struggles to tackle wider issues researchers face within the institute.


All EUI researchers can join the Union as ordinary members. Other individuals affiliated to the EUI, such as fellows, alumni, professors, masters students, staff and partners, may join the Association as associated members. The General Assembly, made of the Union’s ordinary and associated members, convenes periodically to propose, discuss and decide upon initiatives. So far we have usually held assemblies every 2-3 weeks, though at times additional sessions may be organised to discuss and decide upon urgent matters. 


The Union is composed of four working groups:

1.  Grant Equality

2.  Working and Living Conditions of Researchers, including Gender Equality

3.  External Affairs (other topics outside EUI)

4.  External Communication and Campaigning


These working groups were formed to facilitate task-division within the Union - and Union members are highly encouraged to get involved in working groups. Additional working groups can also be established ad-hoc by members. If so, a coordinator shall be designated and tasked with reporting the Working Group’s activities to the Union’s elected members.​


The statute (with more comprehensive information) can be accessed here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/12mpmu_Q4BlHNIbbSu1w0Xld92iTEzNiv/view?usp=sharing.


Since its founding in 1972, grant inequality has plagued the European University Institute, with researchers from different countries facing unequal salaries despite carrying out the same job. The institute's structure, which was established as an intergovernmental organization, shares with other international institutions the problem of member states' veto power and control over statutory reform. Unanimity is required for structural changes, and member states contribute to the institute's common budget based on how many researchers they send. For the first three years of the doctoral program, member states also decide unilaterally how much money to pay their researchers. This flawed structure has been a source of frustration for generations of researchers who struggle with adverse working conditions, unequal career opportunities, and salaries that do not meet living costs. 

Researchers from Greece, at the bottom of the income gradient, receive far less than the living wage in Florence (EUR 1,440 as calculated annually by the EUI). Meanwhile, Danish researchers earn three times as much. The asymmetric impact of the pandemic and subsequent inflation prompted a grassroots effort by researchers, out of which the Grant (In)Equality Initiative was born. Biweekly assemblies brought together researchers to discuss ways to remedy this unjust situation. Within a few months, we organised ourselves into working groups, reached out to politicians and journalists, and organised protests. We soon realised that a structure and streamlined procedures were needed to lead our campaign and mobilise the senior administration of the EUI. It was out of this fight for grant equality that the Union was born. 

As a result of our relentless advocacy, the administration established a Grant Inequality Working Group composed of senior policymakers from high- and low-paying member states. Since then, three out of five low-paying member states have agreed to gradually align their grants with the living wage in Florence. But there is still work to be done. While in the medium term we aim for a grant equalising fund within the EUI to top up the grants of low-paying member states, our long-term goal remains grant equality. Researchers who live and work in the same place should be remunerated equally.



Creating a safe and inclusive environment within the Institute is our shared responsibility. Part of this task entails ensuring effective measures are in place to prevent work-place harassment. Unfortunately, despite mandatory harassment training being a common practice at universities worldwide, the EUI has been slow to follow suit. In 2021, the administration announced plans to revise its harassment policy, but the proposed solution of an online training program delivered in video format falls short of providing real-life skills and support to the community.

As a Union, we took it upon ourselves to take the lead on this issue by hosting the EUI's first in-person harassment training. Led by a professional trainer, this Active Bystander Training provided hands-on strategies and interactive scenarios to help individuals intervene in cases of harassment. The training was a huge success, with attendees praising its impact and effectiveness.

We believe that this pilot event has made it clear to the administration that adequate in-person harassment training is not only necessary, but also demanded by the EUI community. We hope that this will lead to a more committed and comprehensive approach to preventing harassment in the future.


Photo: Protest organised by the Union in the flagship EUI State Of the Union conference.