News from the IES

The Trump election and BREXIT were the hot topics that got a group of sixty international students quickly warmed up in the middle of a snowy Tampere in February. The occasion was the EU law course of IES Jean Monnet Chair Harri Kalimo, for whoom this was the 10th anniversary of the course at the University of Tampere, where he is also an adjunct professor (docent).

At the 2017 ISA Convention in Baltimore (23-24 February), IES researchers Sebastian Oberthür, Luis Simon, Joachim Koops, Stephan Klose and associates Katja Biedenkopf, Caterina Carta and Esther Marijnen presented their research on a variety of subjects, ranging from the EU’s climate and environmental policy to European foreign and security affairs. While presenting a total of eleven research papers, they further contributed to a successful conference as chair or discussant in several conference panels and roundtable debates.

On 2 February IES Research professor Ilke Adam gave a presentation in the informal hearing on homosexuality and religion in the Flemish Parliament. She presented her insights, mainly based on the research she conducted with ULB Colleague Corinne Torrekens on Belgian Turcs and Belgian Maroccans, and the ongoing research on African Belgians, both funded by the King Boudewijn Foundation. She demonstrated that, indeed, homonegativity is still strong in Belgian communities of migrant origin but that assimilation is happening, since negativity is lower than in the countries of origin. With the help of numbers she also showed that the central focus on Muslims in debates on homonegativity is not only incorrect but also counter-productive.

In December 2016, the seminar on “A Science Diplomacy approach for Belgium?!” brought together experts and practitioners with an interest in science, innovation, international cooperation and diplomacy with a view to discussing existing science diplomacy practices and approaches around the world, and to reflecting on a science diplomacy strategy for Belgium.

From December 12-13, IES hosted a workshop entitled “US-EU Relations in Times of Uncertainty: Crises and Transatlantic Relations,” which featured guest editors Marianne Riddervold (University of Oslo, Norway) and Akasemi Newsome (University of California, Berkeley), who attempted to account for how transatlantic relations have been impacted by the crises currently faced by the EU. Central to each participating paper’s examination of these relations were questions pertaining to whether the EU states have become more unified or fragmented in their position on the US, as well as the extent to which US and EU relations have strengthened or weakened in different areas.

The Institute of European Studies (IES) is a beneficiary and Workpackage Leader of the project “MINDb4ACT: Mapping, IdentifyiNg and Developing skills and opportunities in operating environments to co-create innovative, ethical and effective ACTions to tackle radicalization leading to violent extremism” funded by the EU’s H2020 programme (consortium leader: the Elcano Royal Institute). MINDb4ACT has the objective to improve the current EU counter-violent extremism policies and to generate new ones. 

In December 2016, Dr Claire Dupont was appointed as a member of the Scientific Committee of the European Environment Agency (EEA) for a four-year term. The EEA is an agency of the EU and aims to provide sound, independent information on the environment to those developing, adopting, implementing and evaluating environmental policy and to the general public. The tasks of the Scientific Committee include providing advice and/or opinion on any scientific matter in the areas of work undertaken by the EEA.

What better way to close off the year than to celebrate another successful PhD defence at the IES? On Friday 16 December 2016, Esther Marijnen defended her PhD thesis entitled 'Beyond Rebels and Gorillas: The Multi-Scalar Politics of Conservation and Conflict in the Virunga National Park, DR Congo'.

The transition to a low-carbon economy requires enabling technologies including energy-efficient lighting products. It is increasingly recognized that a sustainable economy is not only low-carbon and energy efficient, but also resource efficient. Previous research has highlighted the importance and need for increased collection and recycling of lamps, to reduce mercury emissions, to avoid unnecessary negative environmental impacts, and to recover the critical materials they contain. Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) policies aim to address these issues by promoting collection and recycling of waste products, closing material loops and providing ecodesign incentives. This is the general framework of the licentiate thesis of Ms. Jessica Luth Richter, publicly defended on Wednesday 20 at the International Institute for Industrial Environmental Economics (IIIEE) of Lund University, with IES professor Harri Kalimo as the opponent.

The students of the IES’s advanced LL.M. Programme in international and European law (”PILC”) made their annual field trip to the Court of Justice of the EU on Tuesday 13 December. Finding the route to the CJEU through a dense fog and the massive construction works around the Court offered a true challenge – but once at their destination, the PILC group was greeted with the usual, overwhelming hospitality and professionality. The students were given an introductory briefing to the Case 589/15 P (Anagnostakis v. Commission) by Référendaire Luca Prete, who also gives guest lectures in the PILC Programme. In the hearing itself, the members of the Court engaged in a very active exchange of thoughts, led by the PILC group’s host, President Koen Lenaerts, as well Judge Allan Rosas and the Advocate General. The discourse reflected the novelty of the issue at stake: the role of the Commission in respect of Citizens’ Initiatives. Indeed, in an EU plagued by a legitimacy crisis, it is important to establish the contours of the EU institutions’ competences and duties in accepting and facilitating the formulation Citizens’ Initiatives. The Initiatives were established by the Lisbon Treaty in order to boost direct democracy in the Union.