News from the IES

On Tuesday 29 September, the ITU/UNESCO Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development launched their global report, “Balancing Act: Countering digital disinformation while respecting freedom of expression.” This research was led by Prof. Kalina Bontcheva (University of Sheffield)  and Dr. Julie Posetti (International Center for Journalists) along with international researchers and contributing authors, including Prof. Trisha Meyer (VECO-IES). The work charts the wide range of responses to disinformation across the world, focusing on the effects of these measures on freedom of opinion and expression.

The Second Summer School on Modern Diplomacy: Across Actors, Levels and Tracks was co-organised by UNU-CRIS and the Diplomatische Akademie Wien, in collaboration with the Flanders Department of Foreign Affairs, Ghent University and Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), and was held virtually from 24 August to 4 September 2020.


In September 2020, the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) published its Roma and Travellers Survey 2019, covering six countries: Belgium, France, Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the UK. The survey includes interviews with almost 4,700 Roma and Travellers, collecting information on more than 8,200 individuals living in their households. IES Postdoctoral Researcher Serena D’Agostino is the author of the Country Report on Belgium, in which she outlines that the access to both justice and education is particularly problematic for Roma and Travellers. Travellers children are, for instance, highly affected by the existing Dutch and French speaking education systems, where the lack of inclusive education based on case-by-case assessments contributes to their marginalisation. She also highlights that in the reported period the evictions of Travellers have repeatedly occurred in the three Belgian regions - such as in July 2019, when the commune of Anderlecht (Brussels) sent in police to clear out a site where some 30 people, including ten children and babies, resided.

On 9 October, from 10.00 to 12.00, IES PhD Researcher Laura Westerveen will defend her PhD thesis. Laura’s thesis is entitled: "Ethno-racial (In)equality in Belgium and Germany: Understanding Policy Frames". Her dissertation explores the framing of inequalities along ethno-racial lines in policy discourses. In particular, it identifies different types of ‘policy frames’ surrounding these inequalities in Belgian and German education and employment policies.

On 4 September 2020, IES PhD Candidate Klaudia Majcher successfully defended her PhD thesis on “Coherence between EU Data Protection and Competition Law in the Digital Market”. Klaudia’s PhD supervisors were Prof. Dr. Harri Kalimo (LLM Programme Director & Research Professor at the IES) and Prof. Ben Smulders (Director and Principal Legal Advisor in the European Commission). The committee was also comprised of VUB Prof. Caroline Buts and VUB Prof. Christopher Kuner, and jury members Dr. Orla Lynskey (Associate Professor of Law at the London School of Economics) and Prof. Peggy Valcke (Professor of Law at KU Leuven Center for IT & IP Law).

At the beginning of our rather exceptional COVID-19 summer, thirty international students participated in the Inter-University Summer School on EU Policy-Making. This was the 17th edition of our long-standing summer programme, but different from previous years, the intensive two-week course was held online from 6-17 July 2020. 

The summer school attracts students and young professionals who wish to broaden their knowledge of the European institutions, European law and the European decision-making process in general. The summer school can be taken as a stand-alone course (5 ECTS) or as part of the Post-Graduate Programme on EU Policy-Making. 

Prof. Florian Trauner was awarded a Jean Monnet Chair for the project ‘EXPAND: Explaining Resilience in EU Justice and Home Affairs’. Jean Monnet Chairs are funded by the European Union’s Erasmus+ Programme and aim at achieving research-led excellence in teaching and learning. The objective of the Chair ‘EXPAND’ is to contribute to the understanding of the changing nature of the European integration policies in and beyond the EU with regard to Justice and Home Affairs Policies. 

Established in 2018, the Brussels Interdisciplinary Research centre on Migration and Minorities (BIRMM) is recognized as the VUB’s Interdisciplinary Centre of Expertise on Migration and Minorities. Over 100 VUB researchers from 11 disciplines participate in it. The coordination is hosted at the IES’ MDJ research cluster, and directed by Prof. Ilke Adam and Prof. Florian Trauner. On 1 September Hannah Vermaut started as the new BIRMM coordinator. She will be assisted by PhD researcher Omar N. Cham. The new coordination team is set to boost BIRMM’s communication and activities.

With two new H2020 projects on migration and immigrant integration, one FWO postdoctoral project on immigration policies, and a European research project on the BLM movement, the IES’ Migration, Diversity and Justice (MDJ) research cluster has had a particularly successful year with respect to research grants. 

In September 2020, Prof. Dr. Kristin Henrard joined the Institute for European Studies as Senior Researcher in its Migration, Diversity and Justice (MDJ) team. Kristin Henrard was also appointed at Vesalius College as a Professor of International Law and Programme Director of its BA in International and European Law. She has more than 160 publications, a substantial part of which pertain to the areas of human rights and minorities, ranging from educational rights, linguistic rights, to the prohibition of (racial) discrimination (the various dimensions of the right to equal treatment), socio-economic and political participation and religious fundamental rights.