News from the IES

The United Nations University institute of Comparative Regional Integration Studies (UNU-CRIS) was founded 15 years ago (i.e. in parallel with the IES) through an agreement between the Flemish Government and the United Nations University (whose main office is in Tokyo, Japan). UNU-CRIS has its offices in Bruges and until recently was administratively linked to the College of Europe (Collège d’Europe). Operational since 2001, UNU-CRIS has a track record of generating policy-relevant knowledge about new forms of governance and cooperation and to contribute to capacity building on issues of integration and cooperation, particularly in developing countries.

This paper advocates for the development of a global science diplomacy agenda, consisting of three components: a Science in Global Diplomacy initiative aimed at mobilising the science and technology (S&T) community to carry out research that is relevant for global problems; a Diplomacy for Global Science initiative aimed at facilitating scientific collaborations for dealing with global problems; and a Global Science for Global Diplomacy initiative aimed at developing the institutional nexus between the S&T community and the realm of policy-making at a global level. 

Between 31 October and 6 November, Silviu Piros travelled to Moldova, Ukraine and Georgia as part of the INOTLES CES monitoring mission. Accompanied by IES Executive Director, Anthony Antoine in Chisinau and Bart De Schutter in Kiev, their main task was to assess the functioning and sustainability of three newly established Centres for European Studies, as well as to evaluate the applicability of innovative teaching and learning methods as part of their curricula. This was one of the final activities of the INOTLES Tempus project, having the IES and Maastricht University as leaders of the working package.

With the approval of its Strategic Plan 2016-2020, the IES has concluded an extensive and in-depth process that has led to the definition of its strategic goals for 2020, with a view to becoming the leading, internationally recognised hub for European studies in Brussels. In a time in which Europe faces its biggest challenges since the creation of the EU, IES research, teaching and services are becoming more relevant. More than before, the Institute will open its wealth of knowledge to a broader public.

After serving for nearly five years as Assistant Director and Acting Academic Director, IES professor Alexander Mattelaer took on a new challenge. As of 1 December 2016 he was appointed as the director of the European Affairs programme at Egmont – the Royal Institute for International Relations. In this new capacity he will set up a research programme on the upcoming Brexit negotiations and the question what lies beyond for the European integration process. 

The EL-CSID Workshop on "Diplomacy and Development" will seek to investigate the role of cultural and scientific diplomacy with respect to global responses to pandemics, development and governance. It will be organised by Nazarbayev University, in collaboration with the University of Warwick and the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, and will be held on 27-28 April 2017 in Malta.

On 1 December 2016, the Horizon 2020 project “COP21: Results, Implications, Pathways and Policies for Low-Emissions European Societies (COP21-RIPPLES)” officially started. Running for three years and coordinated by the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI) in Paris, the project will provide interdisciplinary analysis of the conditions of EU climate policy in the new strategic context of the Paris climate change agreement concluded in 2015.

The VUB’s Institute for European Studies (IES) is one of the main partners of the project. Under the lead of Prof. Sebastian Oberthür, the IES cluster on Environment and Sustainable Development is in particular co-coordinating Work Package 4 of the project that assesses the adequacy of the Paris outcomes for effective international climate governance and the EU’s role.

IES doctoral researcher Ferran Davesa was a guest lecturer in the “Contemporary EU” course of the Bachelor programme in humanities of the Universiteit van Amsterdam (UvA). His lectures reflected upon ‘participatory governance in the European Union’.

EL-CSID researcher Richard Higgott (Institute for European Studies, IES-VUB) participated in the panel on “Cultural Diplomacy and Societal Security” and delivered a presentation on “Linking Culture, Diplomacy and Security: A Bridge, or a Bridge Too Far?” at the Conference on “Managing Societal Security in the European Union: policy-makers as securitizing actors”.

His presentation can be consulted here.

On 17 November Matilda Axelson and Tomas Wyns visited the ArcelorMittal steel plant in Ghent and met with CTO Carl de Maré.
Main topic of the meeting was an exchange of thoughts on innovation processes and challenges for the steel industry in Europe and the link with greenhouse gas emission reductions.
Deep emission reductions in the steel sector, while maintaining or even enhancing competitiveness will require the smart mix of process, product and business model innovations (taking into account evolving supply- and value chains).