The Centre of Excellence Jean Monnet is born in the initiative of Bertrand de Lafargue, Associate Professor in Contemporary History at the University Toulouse II-Le Mirail, in June, 2000, around a team of professors-researchers composed of historians, geographers and scientists coming from other domains of specialisation (sociology, languages).
The Centre’s team has as vocation to analyse relations between centre and periphery in Europe from the detailed study of the countries which constitute the margins of our continent on long chronological length until today by including the contributions of all human sciences.
That is why three main axes were favoured, each of them benefiting from an autonomous functioning within the group. These three geographical axis are: The Nordic Europe axis, which includes the study of the Scandinavian countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden) and that of Baltic States now full members of the European Union (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania). Relations between the Western fringe of Russia and the Baltic Sea are also taken into consideration. The Central Europe and Balkanic axis, which covers the large space going from the Baltic Sea to the East Mediterranean (Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Albania, ex-Yugoslavia – Bosnia, Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia, Slovenia – Bulgaria, Romania and Greece. Relations with the Ottoman world and Turkey, without forgetting Cyprus and Malta, are also taken into account. The Iberian and Mediterranean Axis, which mainly concentrates on Spain and Portugal, but also considers links between Europe and the Maghreb.
The Centre of Excellence has as vocation accordingly to federate energies around a transversal reflexion according to the “longue durée” approach, and to offer another look on areas marginalised by History or Geography. These directions are the expression of an already ancient and common preoccupation for what it would be possible to call “Peripherical Europes ” within the departments of human sciences of UTM. They entirely integrate with plans established by the European Commission intended to support scientific projects aiming at better knowledge and understanding of European crossed and present realities.