News from the IES

In December 2016, the Horizon 2020 project “COP21: Results, Implications, Pathways and Policies for Low-Emissions European Societies (COP21-RIPPLES)” officially started. The project was running for three years, until November 2019 and it was coordinated by the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI) in Paris. The project aimed to provide interdisciplinary analysis of the conditions of EU climate policy in the strategic context of the Paris climate change agreement concluded in 2015.

The VUB’s Institute for European Studies (IES) was among 17 leading universities and institutes that joined forces to produce climate policy guidelines and the IES was one of the main partners of the project. Under the lead of Prof. Sebastian Oberthür, and with valuable contributions of IES Project researchers Tomas Wyns and Gauri Khandekar, the IES cluster on Environment and Sustainable Development was 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. As the Project comes to an end, project members published the key messages to contribute to evidence-based decision making.

On 13 February 2020, IES President Karel De Gucht delivered a speech on the future relationship between the EU and the UK at the University of Warwick’s premises at the Shard in London, where this prestigious UK university’s Business School is located. In his speech, Mr De Gucht put to the audience that even though few people expected the road to withdrawal to be as long and as bumpy as it actually was, that was the easy part. 

Planning your summer 2020? - Join this year’s Inter-University Summer School on EU Policy-making at the Institute for European Studies, VUB and the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna. Explore both the old and the new centre of Diplomacy in Europe with this summer school. The intensive two-week programme is held one week in Brussels and one week in Vienna from Monday 6 to Friday 17 July 2020. 2020 Summer School theme is Analysing human security in today’s EU. Application is open! Don't miss the early-bird deadline of 15 March to get a 10% discount on the tuition fee! 
For more information, visit the Summer School website.

The 'European Union in International Affairs' (#EUIA20) has taken a next step in its organisation. It has accepted or rejected paper and panel proposals based on a thorough blind review process involving the members of our national and international steering committees. Each proposal was reviewed anonymously by at least two experts and graded independently each time, taking into account scientific quality, novelty and fit with the conference theme. The overall acceptance rate was 51 percent.#EUIA20 was supposed to take place from 27-29 May 2020 and has now been postponed to due to the the outbreak of COVID-19. All  updates on the organisation are provided at the conference website.

Congratulations to the newly elected Croatian president, Mr. Zoran Milanović! He is the latest example of alumni from the Advanced Master Programme on International Legal Cooperation  (known today as LLM in International and European Law), reaching the very highest positions in the judiciary, the EU institutions, law firms, companies and also in politics. The programme is taught at the Institute for European Studies of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, a Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence in Brussels. Mr Milanović previously served as Croatia’s Prime Minister (2011-2016).

On 18 and 19 November 2019, the Institute for European Studies of the VUB convened a closed-door expert meeting and a public roundtable on current challenges to extended deterrence in Europe and East Asia. The closed-door meeting on 18 November was attended by a number of policy-makers and experts from Europe and East Asia, and held under the Chatham House rule. Experts discussed the future of extended deterrence in Europe and East Asia from the perspective of the US allies.

What better way to engage the Youth in EU decision-making, than by reversing the roles and giving the baton in policy work to the youth itself? The students from IES’ LLM in International and European law (PILC) had this unique opportunity as a part of the ALL-YOUTH research project that IES researchers Ferran Davesa, Jamal Shahin and Harri Kalimo have been contributing to over the past two years under the lead of Tampere University. To actually chair a Council Working Party was an innovative way to break new ground on the matter. The PILC students had worked as four teams, facilitated by Prof Harri Kalimo,  on key themes of youth participation – online, social media, non-discrimination and education – and provided the Council experts their insights on what they considered as main barriers and bottlenecks in these areas, as well as policy solutions to solving them.

The Institute for European Studies (IES), Vesalius College (VeCo) in Brussels and the Department of Politics and International Studies (PAIS) of the University of Warwick in the UK are offering a joint training programme on the Politics of International Development. 

The training will be held at the West Midlands Europe Hub in Brussels on Friday evening 17th January and all day Saturday 18th January 2020.

The training, aimed at early to mid-career professionals, will provide a solid introduction to the Sustainable Development Goals in context and detailed knowledge on the framing, implementation and implications of Sustainable Development Goal 16 on peaceful, just and inclusive societies. It will take a critical approach to the dominant international development agenda. It will enable participants to situate the Sustainable Development Goals in an intellectual history of thinking on development, as well as the contemporary challenges of the pressures on multilateralism and resources and demands for evidence-based policy making.

In her speech to the European Parliament on 27.11, Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen highlighted the need to make the European internal market work better. She highlighted the need to open up the markets, while at the same time not leaving anyone behind. The challenge is to support a better functioning EU market, in particular on services, while making sure that the workers’ rights and professions are governed in fair and transparent fashion. A balance needs to be struck between the free movement of workers, services and establishment, on the one hand, and the regulation of professions, on the other. These themes were explored in great detail in 2-day training sessions on Free movement in the context of Professional Qualifications, offered by IES Professor Harri Kalimo, Professor Vassilis Hatzopoulos (Pantheion University, Athens) and researcher Lea Mateo, on 22.-23.10. and 4.-5.12. at the IES. The trainees were experts from the SOLVIT network, established by the Commission in 2001 to help companies and individuals with problems to operate across the borders. 

The Security and Defence subcommittee (SEDE) of the European Parliament is organizing a public hearing on “Opportunities and challenges of the use of Artificial Intelligence - enabled systems in security and defence”. The aim of the hearing is to assess the possible impact of AI on security and defence. AI is viewed as a new strategic enabler that can present a number of opportunities, but also challenges. In CSDP missions and operations, AI-enabled systems can be used in multiple ways to enhance EU’s capabilities. At the same time, the use of AI-systems in defence can also have non-desirable legal and ethical implications, in particular the potential lack of human oversight on the functioning and use of AI-enabled weapons could lead to actions violating international norms, and raise accountability concerns. The hearing will therefore look into ways on how to ensure ethically and legally sustainable use of AI in security and defence, taking into account recent EP’s call for the prohibition of lethal autonomous weapons.