Recent Publications

May 2015
annual report

Executive Summary

Whereas 13 is usually associated with bad luck, our Institute can, on the verge of its 13th birthday, look back at good fortune, albeit that this fortune was only possible through hard work and good investments. These investments - in quality researchers and postdoctoral staff – have come to fruition in 2014. The Institute awarded no less than six new PhDs in the course of the year, bringing the total number of awarded PhDs from 13 up to 19, while a total of 60 students obtained their advanced Masters diploma. The Institute also initiated three new PhD projects. Output-wise, IES researchers contributed to more than 90 scientific articles, of which 56 peer-reviewed.

With the organisation of the fourth edition of the EU in International Affairs Conference (EUIA) at the Royal Flemish Academy for Arts and Sciences, the Institute confirmed its position as a major academic player in the European field, attracting more than 300 top scholars from all over the world, as well as several high level European and international policy-makers and other stakeholders.

The Institute delivered further services to the wider Flemish and European community via the organisation of over 70 other events in the past year – most of which were open to the public. With nearly 50 media appearances in national and international press, IES researchers and staff saw to an ever increasing visibility of the institute, providing service to the wider community.

The Institute did not grow in quantity - its amount of employed FTEs hardly changed over the past year - yet it definitely grew in quality. Building on its four research clusters (EFSP, Environment & Sustainable Development, Migration Diversity & Justice, and European Economic Governance) and its Educational Development Unit, the Institute contributed to more than 45 academic research and/or teaching projects (of which more than 30 externally funded). This was also reflected at the income side of our accounts, as the Institute was able to obtain more than 45% of its funding from non- governmental sources (half of which stems from externally funded projects).

April 2015
annual report
April 2015
annual report

April 2015
annual report


Immigrant labour market participation in Belgium - high time to mainstream

The gap in labour market participation between natives and people with an immigrant background is significant in Belgium, one of the largest in the OECD. In this Policy Brief, we present research that investigated one of the possible causes of this poor performance, and we propose three main policy recommendations. The research project studied whether Belgium’s complex federal state structure, and the subsequent division of responsibilities and lack of intergovernmental cooperation helps to explain this poor performance. The study concluded that governance complexity does not appear to be a main cause for Belgium’s poor results. However, more policy coordination would improve policy efficiency.



Arbeidsmarktparticipatie van mensen met een migratie-achtergrond in België: hoog tijd om te mainstreamen.

De kloof in arbeidsmarktparticipatie tussen personen met en zonder migratie-achtergrond is erg groot in België, véél groter dan het gemiddelde in de andere OESO-landen. In deze policy brief presenteren we een studie waarin we een van de mogelijke oorzaken van deze povere resultaten hebben onderzocht. Daarbij doen we drie belangrijke aanbevelingen voor het beleid ter zake. Het onderzoeksproject ging na of de verklaring voor de slechte resultaten te vinden is in de complexe structuur van de Belgische federale staat en de bijhorende versnippering van bevoegdheden en gebrekkige intergouvernementele samenwerking. Uit het onderzoek blijkt dat de complexe bevoegdheidsverdeling niet de belangrijkste oorzaak is voor de slechte prestatie van België. Meer coördinatie in het beleid kan evenwel de efficiëntie van dat beleid ten goede komen.







Une meilleure insertion professionelle des personnes issues de l’immigration: allons au mainstreaming

L’écart entre les taux d’emploi des autochtones et des personnes issues de l’immigration est considérable en Belgique et l’un des plus élevés de l’OCDE. Nous présentons dans ce policy paper une étude qui s’est penchée sur l’une des causes possibles de ces mauvaises performances et nous proposons trois recommandations politiques principales. La recherche a examiné si la structure complexe de l’État fédéral belge, la répartition des compétences qui en résulte et le manque de collaboration intergouvernementale contribuent à expliquer ces résultats médiocres. L’étude conclut que la complexité du partage des compétences ne semble pas être une cause principale des piètres résultats de la Belgique. Cependant, une plus grande coordination politique pourrait améliorer l’efficacité politique.



April 2015
annual report
Markéta Novotná

The Schengen Area of free movement is considered to be one of the most substantial and, in the eyes of many, most successful achievements of European integration. In 2014, the ‘Schengen Governance Package’, which alters the rules of the Schengen co-operation, came into force. It is a response to conflict among Member States in maintaining the common zone of freedom of movement. This Policy Brief aims to analyse how this package was developed and to assess whether it represents a suitable response to the conflict and difficulties within the Schengen agreement. The Brief argues that the Governance Package only touches on one part of the problem, namely border controls, whereas it does not deal with solidarity and burden-sharing and hence represents another missed opportunity to improve cooperation in the Schengen Area.

About the author:

Markéta Novotná is a PhD student at the Faculty of International Relations at the University of Economics, Prague. From September to December 2014 she was a visiting researcher at the Institute for European Studies at the VUB in Brussels.

Florian Rabitz

Synthetic biology is an emerging technology with potentially far-reaching benefits and risks. As a cross-cutting issue, different aspects of synthetic biology fall within the scope of different international agreements. Contemporary biosafety and biosecurity frameworks are characterized by important regulatory gaps which policy makers need to address to minimize risks that may arise in the future both from commercial use and weaponization. In some cases, this may require formal treaty amendments, whereas others can possibly be resolved at lower levels, for instance through interpretive statements of treaties’ decision-making bodies.

About the author:

Florian Rabitz was a doctoral researcher at the IES from 2009 until 2014 within the FWO project “governing through regulatory complexes: the European and international management of genetic resources”. He is currently a visiting Professor at the Institute for International Relations, University of São Paulo, working primarily on international environmental regimes and intellectual property rights.

Serena D’Agostino

The fourth edition of Roma Pride has brought Roma civic activism back in the spotlight. This Roma-rights mobilization, taking place every October in several European cities, has emphasized the centrality of an active civil society in pursuing a successful integration of the Roma in Europe. The ‘Award for Roma Integration’ and the ‘Civil Society Prize 2014’ conferred last October by the European Union (EU) to Roma and pro-Roma Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) have confirmed this approach. Nonetheless, a general discontent towards the EU Roma Integration Policies exists within the Roma Civil Society, who calls for stronger support to and the promotion of “Roma- led change”. This Policy Brief investigates the reasons behind such discontent and identifies the ‘distance’ from Roma communities as the Achilles heel of EU policies. It argues for further efforts by the EU to empower Roma organisations operating at the grassroots through community capacity building, structured dialogue and simplification of the funding mechanisms.

About the author

Serena D’Agostino is a Doctoral Researcher at the Institute for European Studies and the Department of Political Science of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. She is part of the joint research programme “Evaluating Democratic Governance in Europe” (EDGE) and affiliated to the IES cluster “Migration, Diversity and Justice”. Her research interests focus on EU policies for Roma integration, minority rights, equality & non-discrimination.

Alexander Mattelaer

Strategy promises to turn the use of force into an instrument of policy. This book explores how military operations undertaken by European armed forces are intended to deliver political effects. Drawing on the work of Carl von Clausewitz it argues that strategy is the product of an iterative politico-military dialogue. While strategic-level planning endows operations with a rational intent, friction between political leaders and military commanders risks derailing the promise of strategy. Three case studies – the EU in Chad, the UN in Lebanon and NATO in Afghanistan – illustrate that the strategic template for European crisis response operations relies on deterrence and local capacity building. Building on over 120 interviews with diplomatic officials, military planners and operation commanders, this book sheds light on the instrumental nature of military force, the health of civil-military relations in Europe and the difficulty of making effective strategy in a multinational environment.