News from the IES

On Tuesday 15 May at 17:00, the day before our EUIA conference, UNU Rector and Under-Secretary General of the United Nations Prof. David Malone will give a keynote lecture entitled "The UN Security Council, at Grips with Tectonic Geo-Strategic Change". The lecture is followed by a high-level academic panel on "Shifts in Global Power Relations, the European Union and the United Nations" with panelists including UNU-CRIS Director Madeleine Hosli, International IDEA EU Director Andrew Bradley, Prof. Helen Nesadurai (Monash University), Prof. Katie Laatikainen (Adelphi Unversity), Prof. Spyros Blavoukos (Athens University of Economics and Business) and Prof. Sieglinde Gstöhl (College of Europe, Bruges Campus). 

The Institute for European Studies (IES) of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) and the EconPol research network co-organised a policy forum on 16 April about the future perspectives for the European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), as part of the Jean Monnet Chair at IES. 

The future of the EMU is at the core of the reflection on the future of European integration; the debate about its architecture has accompanied the entire evolution of the EU and several proposals have been made in the past. The policy forum stimulated an open, broad and deep discussion on the possible options for the future of the EMU, starting from the assessment of the existing proposals. Three high level speakers, who combine an academic perspective with a direct knowledge of the political context, László Andor, Clemens Fuest, and Vesa Vihriälä, engaged in a rich discussion, chaired by Paolo Pasimeni, on the macroeconomic and political implications of the monetary union and its possible evolution.

Professor Alexander Mattelaer was recently involved in two debates in the Belgian Parliament. In the first one on 17 April, he presented the report of the New Pact on Europe project (funded by the Koning Boudewijnstichting / Fondation Roi Baudouin), including his thoughts on the role of Belgium. The report contains an elaborate proposal to energise Europe and thus prepare it for future challenges. On 25 April, Alexander contributed to a debate on the replacement of Belgian F16 fighter planes.

Organized by the Diplomatic School of Armenia and funded by the European Union, this panel workshop on 3 May 2018 is designed for students and academics in Armenian universities, and targeted officials and professors. IES Academic Director Luk Van Langenhove will deliver two talks: “The long past and short history of the practice of Science Diplomacy” and “European Union Science Diplomacy in review”. Other presentations will deal with: “Global Challenges, New Frontiers and the Limitations of Armed Force”, “Best Practices in Science Diplomacy: leading examples from North America, Europe and Asia.”

LLM Joonas Alaranta defended his Doctoral thesis “Chemicals and the circular economy A study on the management of substances of very high concern and the circular economy by the REACH regulation” at the University of Eastern Finland on Friday 27 April. IES professor Harri Kalimo acted as the opponent in the defence, commending the work as a very topical piece of scholarship. The work of Alaranta shows amongst other things that the requirements of REACH set administrative requirements and costs on the resource flows of a circular economy. 

Picture Taken by Oskari Korhonen


The third project and stakeholder meeting of the project “COP21: Results and Implications for Pathways and Policies for Low Emissions European Societies (COP21 RIPPLES)” was held in Warsaw on 25 and 26 April. The IES is co-leading Work Package 4 on international governance aspects, which is scheduled to submit its second deliverable mapping the international governance landscape in a sectoral perspective by the end of May 2018. Sebastian Oberthür presented the IES team at the meeting and reported on progress in the governance work, which entails an innovative sectoral perspective and was well received and even praised by the advisory board and stakeholders.

The arrival of GDPR, the growing EU involvement in cybersecurity, and the regulation of ‘fake news’ are but a few examples of the rapidly increasing importance of data law in society. As a frontrunner in international and European law, the Institute for European Studies now offers its LLM students the opportunity to specialise in this exciting area of law (starting in the 2018-19 academic year).

In the context of the SOURCE project, an IES team consisting of Ólöf Soebech, Irina van der Vet and Florian Lang designed a 90-page E-Handbook on Societal Security Crises and Emergency Response in Europe. The e-handbook is an innovative educational tool for first responders managing crises in the area of societal security. It features six multi-media case-studies coming from different parts of Europe, namely: Austria, Sweden, Belgium, and Spain. The case-studies explore and re-construct strategies and actions of first response professionals involved in management of socio-political emergencies and natural disasters. In addition to texts, the interactive content includes educational assignments and video interviews, in which professionals, who took on key roles in the crisis management and emergency response, share their experiences.

The United Nations University Institute on Comparative Regional Integration Studies (UNU-CRIS) published its 2017 Annual Report. UNU-CRIS has a strong bond with the Institute for European Studies, since it signed an agreement in 2016 with Ghent University and the Vrije Universiteit Brussel which marked the start of a new partnership.

In 2017, UNU-CRIS organized several academic sessions and a research seminar series, welcomed its first PhD Fellows, launched the research project AMIREG, and continued working on RIKS and the European funded project EL-CSID. UNU-CRIS engaged actively with policy-makers and civil society. The institute generated a steady output with no less than nine books and 20 book chapters. 

In the framework of his MSCA research project “The role of national parliaments in the Arab transformation processes”, IES researcher Dr Jan Claudius Völkel spent two weeks for research in Egypt recently. Besides meetings and discussions with high-level observers of, and experts on, the Egyptian parliament, the main purpose of his stay, he also gave two lectures on different topics at prestigious Political Science departments.