News from the IES

On November 9th, 2019, the world will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and all eyes will be on the German capital. Around this historical event the city will host an international Summit from November 6th-10th, 2019. On the evening of November 9, world-renowned singers and bands will perform a peace concert, paying tribute to the past 30 years without the Wall. Former IES Academic Director Prof. Dr. Luk Van Langenhove has been invited to deliver a keynote Address to this Summit. He will speak about “The Psychology of Walls and the need for Windows of Dialogue”.


On 16 October 2019 the VUB International Relations office organised its first Europe Day. The theme of the day was the 15th anniversary of the EU’s biggest enlargement, when 10 countries joined the European Union: Cyprus, Malta, Czech Republic, Hungary, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia. Part of the EU day programme was an academic panel debate, organised in cooperation with the Institute for European Studies at VUB (IES), the Jean Monnet Chair and International Relations Office.

Europe’s energy transition will require higher quantities of metals. Non-ferrous metals represent the building blocks of every conceivable climate technology including batteries, clean mobility, energy-efficient buildings, solarpanels, and wind turbines. In this respect, we are delighted to share a new publication “Metals for a Climate Neutral Europe: A 2050 Blueprint”, by IES Senior Researcher Tomas Wyns and IES Doctoral Researcher Gauri Khandekar. This comprehensive report looks at the non-ferrous metals industry’s unique profile (especially achievements in electrification and circularity), potential in the transition to climate-neutrality, and the challenges and constraints that will be faced along the way.


The Jean Monnet network ‘Governing the EU’s Climate and Energy Transition in Turbulent Times’ (GOVTRAN), to which the IES-VUB serves as leading coordinator, held its second international workshop under the overarching theme ‘Climate and Energy Governance and the Future of Europe’ at the Istituto Affari Internazionali in Rome on 30 September – 1 October 2019. Seventeen researchers from across Europe presented twelve draft papers examining how various aspects of EU climate and energy policy interact with some of the underlying causes of the current crisis of European integration. Topics included, inter alia, the impact of rising populism, the role of Central and Eastern European Member States, the effectiveness of EU policies to promote renewable energy, the role of the European Parliament and of the Commission, and changes in EU international climate and energy governance. 

On 2 October 2019, the EU Commission’s Director General for Taxation and Customs has reappointed professor Marie Lamensch as effective member of the European Commission VAT Expert Group for the next three years. Marie Lamensch has been a member of this expert group since 2016. The task of the VAT Expert Group is (1) to advise the European Commission on the preparation of legislative acts and other policy initiatives in the field of VAT; and (2) to provide insight concerning the practical implementation of legislative acts and other EU policy initiatives in the field of VAT.

Effective 1 October 2019, the Institute for European Studies (IES) at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) and Vesalius College (VeCo) have appointed Luc Soete as their new Dean. The appointment goes hand in hand with a change of statutes, which are now embedded in the VUB’s statutes thus enabling an alignment of management roles. Two other new appointees include Alexander Mattelaer who will take up the new function of Vice-Dean for Research of both institutions, while Sven Van Kerckhoven will take up the new role of Vice-Dean for Education. The IES-VeCo joint management team further consists of Executive Director Anthony Antoine and Assistant Executive Director Jacintha Liem.

Professor Richard Higgott of the IES produced a major report entitled “Civilisations, States and World Order: Where are We, Where are We Heading”. This new publication was commissioned by the Berlin based think tank Dialogue of Civilisation Research Institute in anticipation of the Rhodes Forum on 11-12 October 2019. The theme of the Forum is “ Global (Dis)Order: Towards Dialogue-Based World Views".

Prof. Dr. Caterina Carta (Director of Master Studies at Vesalius College and former project researcher at the IES) together with Prof. Dr. Richard Higgott (Emeritus Professor at the University of Warwick and Research Professor at the IES), have published a new book that explores European cultural diplomacy, a topic of growing interest across the scholarly and applied public policy communities. 

For decades, the Institute for European Studies (IES) and Vesalius College (VeCo) have built up strong reputations as frontrunners in education, research, and academic services on the international scene. Both being associated with Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), one of Belgium’s prime universities with a strong internationalisation focus, the IES and VeCo have decided to work together more closely as of the summer of 2019. 

Although both institutions remain independent, their combined resources and expertise in both European studies and global governance will create multiple synergies that their stakeholders will benefit from – not in the least the students in their academic programmes. 

Among the objectives composing the 2018 UN Global Compact for Migration, Objective 21 deals with the return of migrants to their countries of origin. This objective includes a reference to sustainable reintegration occurring when returnees have access to psycho-social assistance, justice and occupational prospects. The policy objective of sustainable reintegration apparently enjoys broad support in the face of some countries increasingly opposing the global governance of migration. Such support can be explained by making reference to sustainable reintegration’s potential to accommodate diverse interests and the limited monitoring of the programmes it underpins.