The EHRI-PP Consortium Takes Important Steps Towards Establishing EHRI as a Permanent Organisation

EHRI General Partner Meeting
Wednesday, 30 September, 2020

EHRI Meetings Held Online

Preceding the Kick-Off of the third phase of the EHRI project, the consortium of the EHRI Preparatory Phase (EHRI-PP) project held its second General Partner Meeting online. EHRI-PP has the specific task to transform EHRI from a project into a permanent organization. Although it was sad that we could not, as was originally planned, meet in person at EHRI partner Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, the Zoom event was successful. 68 delegates from EHRI-PP’s 15 partner institutions contributed to many excellent presentations and discussions. Important steps were taken towards defining EHRI’s future legal structure and its headquarter.  

Central office

The meeting of the EHRI-PP consortium has agreed unanimously to work further towards establishing the central office of the permanent EHRI organization in the Netherlands. Since 2010, the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies in Amsterdam has successfully coordinated the EHRI project as a whole. The NIOD’s ambition to provide continuity by headquartering the future EHRI organization has been recognized by the partners.

Legal structure

EHRI as a permanent organization will need a different legal structure as it will no longer be governed as a project. The EHRI-PP consortium agreed that its preferred option is the ERIC or European Research Infrastructure Consortium, which is a specific legal form designed by the European Union in 2009, that facilitates the establishment and operation of Research Infrastructures with European interest on a non-economic basis. Establishing EHRI as an ERIC has a number of important advantages in comparison to other legal frameworks: for instance, ERICs are European in scope by design, they are particularly calibrated to support the operation and management of a Research Infrastructure, and they are faster to establish than international organizations.

National nodes

Thus the plan is to establish EHRI as a distributed ERIC, with its central hub located in the Netherlands. This central hub will coordinate and harmonise the activities of several national nodes that are to be established in all countries that wish to participate in the EHRI-ERIC. These nodes will take the form of national consortia of Holocaust-related institutions.  During the General Partner Meeting update reports about the development of such consortia were provided for Austria, Germany, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.  

Future policies

EHRI-PP has also been active over the last few months with surveying activities to fine-tune its future policies concerning research, access and training and its technical development roadmap. Preliminary results of such surveys presented during the General Partner Meeting suggest that EHRI is on its way to develop an ambitious suite of innovate tools, services and events that will ensure that the Holocaust research and documentation communities have access to the resources they need.

Permanent European home

To conclude: During the meeting important decisions about how to become an independent and permanent organization were taken. The perspectives seem to be very positive and the consortium parted with the task to establish the support and structures that are needed to turn the vision of EHRI-ERIC into a reality, thereby ensuring that trans-national Holocaust research has a permanent European home.