EU Awards Two Grants to EU Center

The EU Center at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana has received two prestigious grants from the European Union, the Getting to Know Europe grant and the Jean Monnet Center of Excellence grant.

Videos of Previous Lectures

Missed an EUC-hosted lecture? Our blog's video tag has archived previous EUC-sponsored lectures.

2016 EU Studies Regional Faculty Working Conference

The European Union Center is pleased to announce that registration is open for the 2016 EU Studies Regional Faculty Working Conference.

MAEUS Alumna Receives Fulbright Grant

MAEUS Alumna Michelle Asbill is one of sixteen University of Illinois students and alumni to receive a Fulbright Grant for the 2015-2016 academic year.

EUC Affiliated Faculty Member Named a Linowes Faculty Fellow

EUC-affiliated faculty member Xinyuan Dai was one of three Illinois faculty members to be named a 2015-2016 David F. Linowes Faculty Fellow.

EUC Affiliated Faculty "A Minute With" Interview

Kostas Kourtikakis, EUC affiliated faculty, was interviewed by the University of Illinois News Bureau for its "A Minute With" series. Read his interview discussing the Greek economic crisis here.

Friday, October 9, 2015

La Langue et l’Identité dans le Monde Francophone, or Language and Identity in the Francophone World

On September 28 2015, the Jean Monnet European Union Centre of Excellence at the University of Pittsburgh held a roundtable discussion entitled "La Langue et l’Identité dans le Monde Francophone" or "Language and Identity in the Francophone World." Panelists included: Abdellah Taia (Moroccan novelist and filmmaker), Nadia Fadi (Professor of Social Sciences, KU Leuven, Belgium), and Denis Provencher (Professor of French and Intercultural Communication, University of Maryland, Baltimore County).

From the abstract of the roundtable discussion:
Dans le monde francophone, quelles sont les relations entre l’identité linguistique, l’identité nationale, le sexe, et la sexualité?
This session will be an all-French Conversation on Language and Identity in France, Belgium, and the Maghreb.

A video of the conference can be viewed below or on YouTube:


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Back to School at What Cost? Comparing Higher Education Models in the US and Europe

On September 17 2015, The Jean Monnet European Union Centre of Excellence at the University of Pittsburgh held a roundtable discussion entitled "Back to School at What Cost? Comparing Higher Education Models in the US and Europe" as part of their Conversations on Europe series. The panel participants included: Dr. John Weidman (Professor of Higher and International Development Education, School of Education, University of Pittsburgh), Professor Liudvika Leisyte (Professor of Higher Education, Center for Higher Education at TU Dortmund, Germany), Dr. John Douglass (Senior Research Fellow in Public Policy and Higher Education at the University of California at Berkeley), and Goldie Blumenstyk (Senior Writer at The Chronicle of Higher Education). European Studies Center Director Ron Linden moderates.

From the description for the roundtable:
In this installment of the University of Pittsburgh's European Studies Center's monthly virtual roundtables series, a panel of experts reflects upon some of the most significant differences between the US and European models of higher education. In particular, they look at the question of who pays for students to go to University, and how much it costs both the individual and society.
A video of the conference can be viewed below or on YouTube :


Thursday, October 1, 2015

The European Parliament oversight of EU-level agencies through written questions

Photo by Francisco Antunes
by Neil Vander Most

On Friday September 25th, 2015, the Department of Political Science and European Union Center sponsored a presentation given by Prof. Nuria Esther Font Borrás from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. Her presentation, entitled “The European Parliament oversight of EU-level agencies through written questions” details the interesting findings found in her newest publication in the Journal of European Public Policy this month. 

Among the EU’s many institutions, the European Parliament is the least understood, due in part to its complexity, uniqueness, and continuing evolution in political significance. Prof. Font and her associates cast light on one aspect of this organization, its ability to oversee and ensure the accountability of the many agencies that work with Brussels to help the European Union better serve the lives of its constituents. Prof. Font is particularly interested in the role that written questions played in this process. Asked by individual members of the European Parliament (MEPs), these questions are sent to the European Commission, where they are investigated until an answer is found. Prof. Font studied the characteristics of the MEPs that most frequently asked these questions, as well as which agencies received the most of them.

 Through conducting a thorough and compelling statistical analysis, Prof. Font discovers many interesting findings. She finds that MEPs who were in opposition parties in their national governments were far more likely to submit written questions than those whose parties were in power. Furthermore, she notes that larger and more socially salient (ie: frequently appearing in the news) agencies received more written questions than those who are smaller or less well-known.

 Prof. Font’s work help us better understand the complicated processes involved in European governance. The fact that MEPs in their national opposition are significantly more likely to pose written questions suggests these members are utilizing written questions to gather information, closing gaps between them and the better endowed competitor parties in power nationally. One would not expect to see national politics at play in a popularly elected branch of a European institution! This finding is a poignant reminder of the stubborn importance of national politics within the European project.

 Additionally, Prof. Font’s findings on which agencies receive written question oversight raises a number of thought-provoking questions. On one hand, it may seem appropriate that the largest agencies and those in the forefront of the public’s mind receive the most oversight, as their overall impact should be more clear and immediate to the average European. However, as Prof. Font herself notes, this leaves the constellation of smaller, less well-known agencies with little to no oversight! While individually these agencies may be small or less well-known, together they make up over 75% of all European agencies, drawing approximately half of all funding allocated towards agencies (Font and Duran, 2015). This lopsided allocation of oversight could negatively impact the performance and legitimacy of these important European organizations. Studies such as those done by Prof. Font and her colleagues are critical to better understand and improve the performance of political actors.

-Font, Nuria and Ixchel Perez Duran. “The European Parliament oversight of EU agencies through written questions.” Journal of European Public Policy. Published Online 9/18/15.

The author, Neil Vander Most, is a current Ph.D student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Teach-In: European Refugee Crisis

Photo of teach-in taken by Raphaela Berding
On September 22nd, a teach-in about the recent refugee crisis in Europe was held at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  The European Union Center was one of the sponsors along with: The Center for Global Studies, Program in Arms Control & Domestic and International Security, Center for South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, The Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory, Women and Gender in Global Perspectives, and Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities. This article was written by Raphaela Berding, a MAEUS student with the European Union Center.

The auditorium in Bevier Hall was packed. Many students followed the invitation of the European Union Center and the Center for Global Studies for a teach-in on the refugee crisis in Europe in which four speakers looked at the diplomatic, political, social and humanitarian law implications of the influx of large populations of refugees coming mostly from Syria into Europe. In their respective fields, Herbert Quelle, Consul General of the German Consulate in Chicago, Zsuzsa Gille, Professor in Sociology, Kostas Kourtikakis, Professor in Political Science, and Lesley Wexler, Professor in Law from the University of Illinois presented important information related to the crisis. Gille and Quelle also talked about the situation in Hungary and Germany, two countries that have been constantly present in the media during the last weeks for their stance on the crisis. They neutrally reflected on how their countries face the crisis and gave their opinion. Gille, who is from Hungary, pointed out that it is important not to judge all Hungarians for rejecting to take in refugees.

 At the end of their talks, students had the chance to ask questions to the panelists. The fact that they came from many different fields, such as History, Political Science or Engineering showed that the crisis is affecting everyone and that it has drawn attention to people all over the world.

 The teach-in left people very satisfied. At the end of the day, the question about what will happen in Europe and how the situation will develop remains. One can only make speculations about the progression of the crisis, and about whether or not Europe will handle it positively and adapt to new circumstances. There is also speculation about which solution the heads of the nation states will come to, which is especially important. As Kourtikakis claimed, what is often forgotten in the debate about the refugee crisis is the second crisis, that Europe has not overcome yet.