News from the IES

On 15 June 2018, Luk Van Langenhove and Alexander Mattelaer will be debating the position of the Benelux Union as a part of the EU, at a panel debate in Antwerp organised by Forum Benelux. Before a diverse audience of businesspeople, cultural, social and scientific organisations, politicians and journalists they will discuss a range of topics including the role of the Benelux in the EU’s quest for stability and progress, Benelux dependence on EU, consequences of Brexit, etc.

Senior researcher Richard Higgott is the author of the EL-CSID report titled “Towards the Private Provision of a Public Good: Exploring the Role of Higher Education as an Instrument of European Cultural and Science Diplomacy with reference to Africa”. The European Union’s (EU) universities and their provision of higher education (HE) to international students remains one of its most powerful global development and cultural assets. The EU operates a wide-ranging set of strategies to assist Africa in enhancing the quality and quantity of its HE. Yet EU’s strategy towards HE in Africa fails to understand or to engage the private sector to help grow the number of Africans undertaking tertiary study. This study identifies the benefits and opportunities of international private provision and proposes a set of next steps as part of a targeted ‘strategy of engagement’ for greater international private involvement in higher education in Africa. The EU needs to play a role in these next steps. 

On 25 and 26 April, Irina van der Vet and Florian Lang represented the IES-VUB in the second consortium meeting of the H2020 Mindb4act project. The meeting took place in Vienna. The Mindb4Act project aims at developing novel initiatives, trainings and policies in the field counter-radicalization and countering violent extremism. The IES is leading several tasks and one work package as well as coordinates several key activities throughout the project, like, for instance, establishing a Belgian Living Lab on Schools and Media to design innovative solutions to deradicalization.

IES Executive Director Anthony Antoine gave a keynote opening speech at the fifth series of workshops of the EU-LEAD project in Ankara, held on 1-5 May at the Middle-East Technical University (METU). The sessions hosted over 60 European and Chinese university leaders and key staff members to discuss university governance structures and university leadership. LEAD, or in full ‘Governance and Academic Leadership of Chinese and European Universities in the context of Innovation and Internationalization’ is an Erasmus+ Capacity Building Project sponsored by the European Commission. 

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.