News from the IES

The Indian summer Brussels experienced in September 2016 was marked by intense debate on the future of European defence efforts. Members of the IES research team were at the forefront of feeding this debate with their ideas and original insights. 

On 23 September, Professor Marie Lamensch presented the solution that she has developed together with computer engineers from Massey University (New Zealand) for collecting value added tax on imports of goods at the first meeting of the World Customs Organisation Working Group on E-Commerce. 

Professor Marie Lamensch has been appointed as member of the European Commission VAT Expert Group in her personal capacity for a period of 3 years. The task of the VAT Expert Group is 1. to advise the European Commission on the preparation of legislative acts and other policy initiatives in the field of VAT; 2. to provide insight concerning the practical implementation of legislative acts and other EU policy initiatives in the field of VAT.

Richard Higgott and Luk Van Langenhove published the first EL-CSID policy paper entitled “Towards an EU strategy for international Cultural Relations: An Initial, Critical but Constructive Analysis”. The paper offers an early assessment of the joint communication on international cultural relations presented by HR Mogherini in June. You can download the policy paper here.

Dr Claire Dupont spoke at the 5th European Environmental Evaluators Network (EEEN) forum on 16 September on ‘Evaluating policy coherence in the EU’s power sector’. The forum was hosted by the European Environment Agency in Copenhagen, Denmark, and the overarching theme for discussion was ‘Evaluation for better regulation in environment and climate policies – learning lessons from research and practice’.

The 19th Japan-EU Conference took place in Fondation Universitaire at the Egmont on Friday 23 September.  After opening sessions by Belgium’s Vice-Premier Minister Kris Peeters and Japanese Ambassador Takanori Uehara, the conference focused on the developing strategic relations between Japan and EU, where IES professors Harri Kalimo and Florian Trauner took part.

The IES will host for the next three years a new Jean Monnet Chair, as IES professor Harri Kalimo was nominated for the post on the theme of “rECOnciliation”.  rECOncile contributes to EU Studies in two intertwined policy areas that remain fundamental to the success of the Union: the internal market and the environment. Strategic initiatives in both fields have been re-launched by the Juncker Commission, and their futures are intriguingly intertwined, as the initiatives on e.g. a deeper and fairer Single Market, Circular Economy and renewable energy illustrate. The market activities are becoming greener, while green policies can be supported by an economic logic. The ensuing reconciliation of ECOnomic and ECOlogical values is therefore of vital importance.

A consensus is emerging in the transatlantic community that the Kremlin’s manipulation of information constitutes a real threat to EU security. Across Europe, far-right, populist and Euro-skeptic political parties are embracing Russia’s information campaigns. In the European Parliament, Marine Le Pen’s Europe of Nations and Freedom (ENF) is the main proponent of pro-Kremlin narratives. The foreign policy platform of the Front National in France contains explicit references to a strategic alliance with the Kremlin and a pan-European Union that includes Russia. Following Brexit, Marine Le Pen is describing the UK vote as a peoples’ rebellion that has signaled the beginning of the end for the EU, much like the fall of the Berlin Wall signaled the collapse of the Soviet Union. Conceivably, in the aftermath of Brexit the absence of British Eurosceptic MEPs from the European Parliament may lead to the consolidation of the radical far-right under the banner of the Front National. In turn, this means that the EU may have a rather difficult time gathering the necessary support to confront Russian assertiveness in the Eastern Neighbourhood.

From 25 to 30 July, Simon Fraser University hosted the Global Model NATO Summit, a global engagement initiative allowing student participants to simulate NATO's practice of consensus decision-making. Students from across the world took part in daily educational seminars and used their newfound knowledge to debate and learn in NATO simulations. IES research professors Luis Simon and Alexander Mattelaer were invited as guest speakers in two of these seminars.

During the spring semester of 2016 Assistant Director Alexander Mattelaer went on academic leave from the IES to join Harvard University and the National Defense University as a visiting fellow. Having been selected for a prestigious Fulbright Schuman scholarship, Alexander put this short sabbatical to good use to complete a research project on transatlantic relations and defence planning. At Harvard University, he joined the program on transatlantic relations at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, whereas in Washington DC he was affiliated to the Institute for National Strategic Studies of the National Defense University.