News from the IES

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.

The public defence of the PhD in Political Science by Esther Marijnen will take place on 16 December 2016 at 3.00 pm at the Institute for European Studies, Pleinlaan 5, 1050 Brussels, room Rome/Lisbon. The title of Esther's PhD thesis is "Beyond Rebels and Gorillas: The Multi-Scalar Politics of Conservation and Conflict in the Virunga National Park, DR Congo". Her promoter is Prof. Dr. Patrick Stouthuysen. The doctoral committee consists as well of Prof. Dr. Koen Vlassenroot (UGent) and Prof. Dr. Alexander Mattelaer.

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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.