News from the IES

On 19 October the Migration, Diversity and Justice cluster organised the kick-off and internal networking meeting of the new VUB’s Brussels Interdisciplinary Research centre on Migration and Minorities, called BIRMM. The group has been created in January 2018 and joined IMISCOE, the largest network of migration research centres in Europe, as an institutional member in July. BIRMM gathers over 60 VUB researchers working on migration and diversity related topics, mostly in social sciences (sociology, political science, communication science, criminology), history, philosophy and law. BIRMM is coordinated by Prof. Ilke Adam and Prof. Florian Trauner (both IES-VUB) and a board of delegates with one representative per research centre or department. 

The Flemish Education Council (VLOR – Vlaamse Onderwijsraad) has recently issued a strategic exploratory report about education for refugees in Flanders. IES postdoctoral researcher Mohammad Salman, who between 2015 and 2017 established and led a programme to bring highly educated refugees to the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, contributed to the report by providing specific advice to VLOR based on his extensive experience in this subject matter.

On 6 November a delegation including José Rosinol and Miriam Tey, the President and Vice-President of the Societat Civil Catalana (SCC) visited the IES to have discussions with IES Academic Director Luk Van Langenhove on Catalonia, Spain and Europe. The SCC is a grass-roots initative that embraces the diversity in Catalan society.

In recent months, trade defence has become increasingly prominent on the European political agenda. China is resolutely claiming to be a market economy, while US President Trump has set up measures on steel and aluminium. Recent events such as these have only underlined the importance of reforms on the EU’s Trade Defence Instruments (TDIs): they need to become more efficient so as to react quickly to external developments. These external and internal evolutions were amongst the key themes explored in the new high-level expert conference organized by the IES on 26 October, the TDI Yearly 2018.

The roundtable ‘Towards Reunification or Confrontation: Assessing recent developments on the Korean Peninsula’ was held on 18 October, from 12.00 to 14.00, at the Press Association of Madrid (Claudio Coello 98, Madrid). It was jointly organised by Elcano Royal Institute and KF-VUB Korea Chair at the Institute for European Studies. The event was sponsored by the Embassy of the Republic of Korea.

Contrasting the situation on the Korean Peninsula in 2017, marked by heavy tension due to North Korea’s advances in its nuclear programme, the summits held between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and Presidents Moon Jae-in and Donald Trump have opened the door to a new diplomatic process. The roundtable assessed this process and how it may affect inter-Korean relations and relations between Pyongyang and the international community.

On 15 October, IES researchers Medlir Mema and Mathias Holvoet organized a policy forum addressing the potential implications of the Kosovo Specialist Chambers and Specialist Prosecutor’s Office, KSC, in Kosovo. The event was held at the University of Business and Technology, UBT, in Prishtina. Participants of the policy forum echoed a general sentiment that the political nature of the court has hurt its legitimacy before indictments have even begun.  


The Institute for European Studies (IES) at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel is partnering with 9 European institutions in the framework of a new project JP-COOPS funded by the European Commission DG JUST (Justice Action Grant). The main coordinator of the project is the University of Malta. In the next 2.5 years, JP-COOPS aims to reinforce judicial and police cooperation in 26 EU Member States through expanding and strengthening existing training networks. 




On 10 October, IES Prof. Dr. Marie Lamensch presented her study on VAT fraud written at the request of the European Parliament’s TAX3 Committee, a special committeeon financial crimes, tax evasion and tax avoidancethat was set up in March 2018 after Luxleaks, the Panama papers, and other tax related scandals. TAX3 aims to build on the work of its predecessors and investigate new issues, such as digital taxation, national citizenship programmes and VAT fraud.



On 27 September, the new Academic Year at the IES was formally inaugurated with a lecture by Mr Martti Koskenniemi, Professor of International Law at the University of Helsinki and Director of the Erik Castrén Institute of International Law and Human Rights. A room packed with students from our two Advanced Master programmes (LLM in International and European Law and Advanced Master in European Integration) benefited from the insights offered by one of the most prominent international law scholars of our time. This academic year 2018-19, our two Advanced Master programmes have started off with a total of 83 students (part of the group is on the picture).

Are you interested in Korean Peninsula security affairs? Do you want to share your views with an audience including policy-makers, researchers, journalists and other experts on Asian affairs? Do you want to win €500 and the possibility of spending a two-month paid internship in Brussels? Are you an Undergraduate student based at a European university? Then do join the KF-VUB Korea Chair Pan-European Korean Peninsula Security Writing Contest!