EU Day

Learn about EU Day and the keynote delivered by David O'Sullivan, Ambassador of the EU to the U.S. on the 15th Annual EU Day on March 15.

Master of Arts in European Union Studies

The European Union Center at the University of Illinois offers the only Master of Arts in European Union Studies (MAEUS) program in the Western Hemisphere. Learn more here.

Language Shapes Opinion Towards Gender Equality

Dr. Margit Tavits discussed langauge and gender as a part of the EUC Faculty Lecture Series.

Conversations on Europe

Watch the collection of online roundtable discussions on different EU issues sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh.

Transatlantic Relationships after US Elections

Watch the EUC Sponsored Roundtable on Transatlantic Relations after the 2016 US Election with Moderator Niala Boodhoo

Videos of Previous Lectures

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

Thursday, October 29, 2015

VIDEO: Teach-In: Refugee Crisis in Europe

The European Union Center was one of the co-sponsors for this Teach-In about the Refugee Crisis in Europe held on September 22, 2015. The EUC Blog has earlier coverage of this event available here.  This video presents the whole discussion, and is hosted through Media Space at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The  Refugee Crisis in Europe is still incredibly prominent in our society today.  Much has been said about the topic, and on September 22nd, a Teach-In about the Refugee Crisis was held at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  The purpose of this discussion was to present an open space containing varying people and opinions.  A brief summary of this event follows:
This panel discussion looks at the diplomatic, political, social, and humanitarian law implications of the influx of large populations of refugees into Europe. The speakers also shed light on the situation in Germany, Greece and Hungary and discuss the EU policies that address (or fail to address) the crisis.
To view the discussion, you can watch the video on a new page or with the video player below this text.


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

"New Trends in the EU Industrial Policy - Implications for Bulgaria”

On October 16, the European Union Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign was one of the sponsors for a lecture presented by Visiting Scholar Paskal Zhelev.  Carlo Di Giulio was one of the attendees of the lecture, and he wrote this piece about the event.  
As a sponsor and co-sponsor, the European Union Center brings different lecturers and presentations to campus throughout the academic year.  For more information on future events, please visit our calendar.  

It was a nice and informal atmosphere on Friday the 16th at Lucy Ellis Lounge where Paskal Zhelev had explained the implications of the EU Industrial Policy from a historical and international perspective. At the end of the lecture, a participative public stretched the schedule by more than 20 minutes asking questions and debating on the topic, as Prof. Zhelev was glad to answer and keep the debate lively and interesting.

After a period of abandonment of structured Industrial Policies and towards the end of the recent Economic crisis, the EU has taken a U-turn on IP relying more on the self-regulatory power of markets as suggested by the Neo-liberal approach. The need to relaunch a weakened manufacturing sector, important challenges brought by globalization, and the observation of successful Industrial Policies in the Eastern Asian region have led to conspicuous investments on IP and the adoption of broad reforms, such as the Europe 2020 strategy. However, the case of Bulgaria shows how the poorest member states are facing policy hurdles that can hardly be removed without direct actions by the EU institutions in modifying the terms for accessing monetary funds. Bulgaria was indeed forced to adopt a horizontal IP after its accession to the EU, but only after a period of liberalization and deindustrialization. As a consequence, a lowering in the industrial capabilities of the country has not been fulfilled by a favorable IP, which has instead provided support to unprofitable activities. Although part of the responsibilities should probably be addressed to Bulgaria itself, as it was not able to maximize the opportunities offered with the EU accession, one of the main issues still resides on the design of EU policies, too often made for high competitive countries.

 At the end of the lecture, while the EU strategy can be considered still beneficial, doubts are casted on a few details, especially in terms of equality among member states. Light has been shed on the Bulgarian approach and more consciousness of its limits and past mistakes could be a lesson for the future.

Carlo Di Giulio is a graduate assistant at the European Union Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Europe's Jews: Past, Present, Future? (Video)

A virtual roundtable entitled "Europe's Jews: Past Present, Future?" was organized by the Jean Monnet European Union Centre of Excellence at the University of Pittsburgh was held on October 22, 2015.

Panelists included: Gunther Jikeli, Indiana University, author of Muslim Antisemitism in Europe; Andrew Srulevitch, Director of European Affairs and Assistant Director of International Affairs for the Anti-Defamation League; Ben Judah, author and journalist, who has written on Britain’s Jews for Politico and Tablet; and David Weinberg, Professor Emeritus, Wayne State University and author of Recovering a Voice: West European Jewish Communities after the Holocaust.

From the description of the virtual roundtable:
By all accounts, the number of anti-Semitic incidents—including violent attacks on synagogues, businesses and individuals—has reached a postwar high across Europe. Official responses and those of community leaders have varied, as have explanations. Some point to the re-emergence of age-old European attitudes or populist political parties while others suggest a link to Europe’s changing demographic or a reflection of the unresolved Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This edition of Conversations on Europe explores the current situation of Jewish communities in light of Europe’s past and with a view toward the future. Center Director Ron Linden moderates.
A video of the roundtable can be viewed below or on Youtube:


European Union Center Movie Night-Eurochannel Shorts: My Dear Family-Funny Games

Photo Still from "Homer's Disease" courtesy of Eurochannel
Article by Raphaela Berding

The European Union Center at the University of Illinois hosts "Movie Nights" every semester.  This semester, the movie nights will consist of short films presented by Eurochannel. Eurochannel is the award-winning television channel featuring premium European entertainment with the biggest stars in cinema, TV and music. Eurochannel is available on Sling International. To learn more, you can become a fan on Facebook on and follow on Twitter  

On Tuesday, October 13, the EUC hosted the first European Union Center Movie Night in the Fall 2015 Semester.  This Movie Night presented the seventh edition of the Eurochannel Short Films Tour, "My Dear Family." Seven short films from different European countries were shown, and all of these were in their original language with subtitles in English, which increased the experience's authenticity.

Family has been the core of European society.  It is the vital energy that moves countries and changes almost every aspect of life, from economics, to politics, and to arts. This familiar spirit was captured in these ten minute short films with stories about families, their challenges and greatest accomplishments. Through the eyes of the filmmakers and guided by their creativity, the viewers discover fascinating different cultural experiences.

Film topics vary from an unhappily married screenwriter who struggles to write a romantic scene, to a young IT specialist who is confronted with his ex-wife’s new boyfriend, and to a clumsy father who is trusted by his girlfriend to look after the family.  These aspects of family life and potential problems were touched upon and presented in creative and funny ways.

Each of the films was different in its nature, and provided a dynamic experience for the viewers. Everyone, disregarding their origin, has probably experienced one of the dilemmas that was presented and could therefore identify with it. Even though the viewers and filmmakers are culturally different from each other, the theme of families having obstacles all over the world displays similarities.

 The next European movie night will be hosted on Tuesday, November 3, 6PM.  The theme of these films will be "My Dear Family-the First Day of the Rest of Your Life."

Raphaela Berding is a Graduate Assistant at the European Union Center.  Eurochannel is available on Sling International. To learn more, you can become a fan on Facebook on and follow on Twitter  


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The law of the land-Sustainability Research Conducted by Professor Jody Endres and Rayane Aguiar

The information in this article appeared originally on International Innovation's website in October, 2015. A copy of the article can be found on their website here. Jody Endres is an EUC affiliated faculty and Rayane Aguiar is a Master of Arts in European Union Studies alum.

At first glance, it may appear that farming is not as harmful to the environment like other practices such as drilling for fossil fuels or overfishing. However, environmental concerns can stem from agricultural practices, and each farmer has a different idea of how their work impacts the environment. Dr. Jody Endres and PhD candidate Rayane Aguiar have been conducting research on the implementation of "agricultural policy" around the world to create some consistency.

Dr. Endres' research

...focuses on the legal environmental regimes that surround biomass-based cropping systems. “Renewable energy policy in Europe is driving discussions in the US about how to verify the sustainability of bioenergy feedstocks, whether for transportation fuels or power, particularly for export to Europe,” she explains. [...]For more than seven years, Endres has been concerned with developing new standards for biofuels sustainability that can encourage a sustainable system like the one maintained in Europe – or even, ultimately, a perennial cropping system. “Bioenergy served as the perfect platform to consider how to redesign agricultural and forested landscapes to include more diverse systems that can include many perennial bioenergy crops,” she enthuses. Indeed, with rising consumer concern in the US over forest use for biofuels, private and public organisations have never been under greater pressure to ensure that the agri-forest supply chain is sustainable. In order to achieve this, though, sustainability attributes must be measured and legal frameworks developed.
Since the late 2000s, Endres has been examining topics such as the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive and the US Clean Water Act to help guide her research in agricultural policy. She has also worked on grants to continue her work.

Dr. Endres' research also collaborate with Rayane Aguiar's research.  "The objective of Aguiar’s research is to mobilise her holistic view of how law and policies can be used to remedy societal and environmental problems, in turn supporting sustainable farming on local and global scales." Together, the two work together to gather information and research regarding changes in agricultural policy.

To learn more about Endres and Aguiar's research, the full article and interview questions can be found on International Innovation's website .

Jody Endres is Professor of Law in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences (NRES) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She received her JD from the University of Illinois College of Law in 2000. Her research centres on how to develop integrated sustainability policy at the nexus of agricultural, environmental and energy systems, and her current work includes institutional and comparative approaches for building green development metrics in law and policy. She is also involved in several national and international collaborations.

Rayane Aguiar is a lab student of Endres, conducting PhD research on environmental law and policies, and sustainable farming at the local and global level.


Friday, October 16, 2015

North of the Northern Lights: A New Way of Perceiving the Crocker Land Expedition of 1913-1917

Photo from the Spurlock Museum Collection
"North of the Northern Lights: Exploring the Crocker Land Arctic Expedition 1913–1917" is a current exhibit at the Spurlock Museum that is co-sponsored by the European Union Center. The exhibit will be available from October 6, 2015 to July 31, 2015. Admission to the exhibit is free and open to the public.

I would like to preface this article with the fact that I knew nothing about the Crocker Land Expedition before I went to the “North of the Northern Lights” exhibit at the Spurlock Museum. After my visit to the exhibit, I found that I had not only learned new information, but I also gained a new perspective.

The exhibit starts with an examination of the initial results and lasting impact of the Crocker Land Expedition of 1913-1917. The exhibit is arranged in a way to examine the expedition's hope of having "carefully laid plans" versus the "chaotic" reality they faced and tried to control. The pictures are a testament to this line of thinking, as on closer examination, the photos tend to be posed or feature little context of the people or situation. This information at first may not initially seem important, but upon further exploration of the guides and online module provided by the Spurlock Museum, it is an important perspective to consider when viewing this information.

The Crocker Land Arctic Expedition, led by Donald MacMillan, was established to provide proof that Crocker Land was a real place.  In fact, the University of Illinois helped co-sponsor this expedition. MacMillan's team learned that Crocker Land was actually a mirage, but the team found new information and items in their time in Crocker Land.

The "North of the Northern Lights" exhibit consists of about 200 physical artifacts and 4500 photos.  The museum does a wonderful job of of putting as much as they can in the exhibit.  Reading or browsing through the guides is crucial though for understanding the context of these items.

Many items are present in the Spurlock Museum, but not every item has accurate context.  These items and information would never have been available without the help of the Inuit people who were largely unrepresented in initial reports by expedition members.  The exhibit at the Spurlock Museum aims to rectify these mistakes, but some information is unfortunately lost to the past.

What the Spurlock Museum can do is to present the information in a way that encourages museum visitors to examine the "accuracy" of historical evidence.  On my trip, I spent a great deal of time exploring the guides and information available at the exhibit.  More importantly, I opened up my mind to questions.

The Spurlock Museum accomplishes many ambitious goals with their exhibit, and it was an incredibly fascinating use of my time.  This exhibit is open from October 6th to July 31st, and if you want to absorb all the information you can, you may consider visiting the exhibit more than once.

Rachel Johannigmeier is a Graduate Assistant at the European Union Center and a student at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science.

For more information on the Spurlock Museum, please visit their website


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

A Minute With...Richard Tempest: Why has Putin's Napoleonic 'cold charisma' made him so popular in Russia?

Photo by L. Brian Stauffer
This article, written by Craig Chamberlain, originally appeared on October 9, 2015 on the Illinois News Bureau Online.  

Vladimir Putin is making headlines again, this time by intervening in Syria’s civil war. At the end of September, the Russian president began a bombing campaign against rebel forces, including ISIS but also U.S.-supported groups, and has announced he is sending ground forces into the country. Some commentators have suggested his bold moves make President Obama look weak by comparison and risk a Cold War-style confrontation. Richard Tempest, a U. of I. professor of Slavic languages and literatures, sees Putin’s actions in keeping with his “cold” charisma, a style of leadership he shares with Napoleon. Tempest has written and taught extensively on both Putin and political leadership styles and is this fall teaching a course on Putin and Napoleon for the university’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. He spoke with News Bureau social sciences editor Craig Chamberlain. 

So what is cold charisma and how do you see it demonstrated in Putin’s actions? Why has it made Putin so popular in Russia?

 Cold charisma posits an emotional distance between the public figure and his or her audience. Also, there is an element of menace in the cold charismatic’s self-presentation. Hollywood actors provide a useful point of reference for the different types of political charisma. In the case of Putin, think Daniel Craig as James Bond. Athletic, brutal and patriotic, in other words.

 Putin’s policies and public image resonated with the Russian public after the politically tumultuous and economically trying 1990s, which were presided over by an ailing and erratic Boris Yeltsin. After he became prime minister in 1999 and president in 2000, Putin displayed an unexpected – probably even to himself – ability to appeal to broad swaths of the public by projecting self-confidence, vigor and decisiveness. That is to say, he turned out to be a skillful politician.

 He was able to articulate a widespread feeling of resentment among his countrymen that Russia had been taken advantage of by the West after the fall of communism. Putin’s core message, that the country has risen from its knees, continues to resonate with most Russians, despite falling living standards.

Will a leader like Obama, who you say exhibits “cool” charisma, always suffer by comparison?

Not necessarily. Think of charisma as a filter through which a given politician, in this case Obama, projects his identity and image to the U.S. public. President Kennedy was a cool charismatic, yet in his interactions with Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev – who was flamboyantly brutal in his public pronouncements and actions – Kennedy was realistic and practical, an example of realpolitik in the context of the Cold War. Their relationship was in no way contingent on the poetics of Kennedy’s political appeal inside the United States. 

By the same token, the stylistics of Obama’s self-presentation are primarily functional within his domestic political space. In any case, the cool quality that helped Obama win the presidency in 2008 has arguably dissipated. Putin and Obama are working to advance their respective foreign policy agendas rather than engaging in a charisma contest.

Putin’s moves in Syria, similar to his moves last year in Ukraine, have raised fears about broader Russian aggression. Your course compares Putin to Napoleon, who conquered much of Europe two centuries ago. How do you read Putin’s motives? And how dangerous can he be?

Putin is a rational actor within his own set of assumptions, which may not be adequate to the facts on the ground. I’m reminded of German chancellor Angela Merkel’s alleged comment that he lives in his own world. Also, he is an able tactician but not a strategic thinker. For instance, the annexation of the Crimea last year boosted Putin’s domestic popularity to unprecedented heights but weakened Russia’s position internationally and compounded its economic problems.

Like any politician, the Russian president is motivated by a range of considerations. He has framed his Syrian gambit or gamble as being in Russia’s national interest, while using it to put pressure on the United States and its allies and to maintain his political support at home, particularly following the inconclusive results of the intervention in eastern Ukraine.

The personality-based character of the Putin administration was summed up by Vyacheslav Volodin, his deputy chief of staff, who last October declared that “there is no Russia today if there is no Putin.” These are worrying words. In my OLLI course, I compare the Russian president to Napoleon mostly in terms of their charismatic self-presentation. Putin is not a would-be world conqueror. He does see himself, however, as the leader of a great power that is laying claim to its own sphere of influence while challenging the perceived imposition of power by the U.S. In Putin’s book, geopolitics is a zero-sum game.

The danger lies in the volatility of the Syrian situation, with multiple local and external, nonstate and state actors generating a plethora of military variables. These may produce an unexpected clash of arms between, say, Russia and Turkey, a NATO member – note the recent incursion into that country’s air space by a Russian military aircraft, which was intercepted by Turkish F-16s. It would take just a twitch of a pilot’s thumb on the fire button to escalate tensions to the level of a shooting war.

Craig Chamberlain is a staff member for the Illinois News Bureau 

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.  

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