EU Day 2016

Learn about EU Day and the keynote delivered by His Excellency Henne Schuwer, Ambassador of the Netherlands to the U.S. on the 14th Annual EU Day on February 29th.

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.

EUC Dimensions of New and Heritage Language Education

Dr. Liv Thorstensson Dávila discussed langauge education as a part of the EUC Faculty Lecture Series.

Whose Legacy? Museums and National Heritage Debates

Watch the online roundtable discussion sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh.

2015 recipient of the Larry Neal Prize for Excellence in EU Studies

Read about the 2015 recipient of the Larry Neal Prize for Excellence in EU Studies, Michelle Egan, and her book Single Markets

Videos of Previous Lectures

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

Thursday, April 28, 2016

MillerComm Lecture Series: Putin’s Russia: The past and future of Kleptocracy

By Raphaela Berding

On Thursday, April 21, the EU Center co-sponsored the talk “Putin’s Russia: The past and future of Kleptocracy” given by Karen Dawisha, Walter E. Havighurst Professor of Political Science and Director at the Havighurst Center for Russian and Post-Soviet Studies at Miami University in Ohio. Dawisha started her lecture by defining the term “Kleptocracy.” According to her, it is a system in which the risk is nationalized, and the reward is privatized. With regard to Russia it means that the immediate group around Putin wins, and the risk is taken for the sake of the Russian state. That being said, Dawisha went on to elaborating on various actors that care about the above mentioned situation. There are many actors in Russia that care; however, if they make their voice heard, they pay a price. The case of Deputy Prime Minister and opposition leader Boris Nemtsov who was murdered for being in an opposing position to Putin, can be seen as an example for how the opposition is dealt with.

Besides internal actors, there are also external, international actors who care about the Russian situation, namely the US and the EU. Dawisha mentioned the illegal annexation of Crimea in March 2014, after which the US and the EU used sanctions as a tool against Russia. Even though it was the first time in Europe after WW II that country borders had been changed with force, there was no military response. Instead the EU and the US sanctioned Putin’s circle. According to Dawisha, the EU and the US thereby signaled that they knew how Russia’s system worked, and this created mistrust within Putin’s circle.

Dawisha then went on to talk about the impact the Russian system has on the West. Russia contributes to weakening the international system because they pump money into the underground economy and weaken the post-Westphalian state, on which the Western countries are dependent.

Dawisha concluded her lecture by pointing out that the current situation in Russia did not occur because of an accidental process, but was already laid out in a document in 2000 which contained a plan for the system. For example, according to that leaked document every election under Putin was organized in such a way that the opposition did not have a chance. Dawisha also warned that the answer to the question “When did we lose Russia?” asked by every new US administration is “Russia lost itself.”
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Monday, April 25, 2016

VIDEO-Videoconference Panel Discussion (with U. of Pittsburgh): "The Continent is Cut Off!" British Referendum in the EU

By Raphaela Berding

On Tuesday, April 19, the EU Center co-sponsored the last videoconference for this semester, organized by the European Studies Center at the University of Pittsburgh.

A panel of experts discussed the upcoming British referendum about an exit from of EU which is a highly important issue throughout the European Union right now, given the recent nature of it.

Four panelists contributed to the vivid discussion, which was led by the Director of the European Studies Center at the University of Pittsburgh, Ronald Linden.  Michelle Egan, Professor at the School of International Service at American University, Amelia Hadfield, Jean Monnet Chair in European Foreign Affairs at Canterbury Christ Church University, and Tim Oliver, Dahrendorf Fellow on Europe-North American Relations and Alan Sked, Professor Emeritus of International History, both from the London School of Economics shared their expertise on the topic. They addressed questions about the UK’s role in the EU, implications of the referendum for the UK, and in the end were asked to make a prediction about the outcome of the referendum.

The EU Center will continue to co-sponsor the Conversation on Europe series in collaboration with the European Studies Center at Pittsburgh next semester. If you missed the last videoconference, you can watch the video below. The EU Center would like to thank everyone for contributing to interesting discussions and hopes to see you in the Fall for more Conversations on Europe!


Watch the video of the virtual conference here, or watch it on Youtube:


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Friday, April 22, 2016

The Future of Transatlantic Relations: Trade, Agriculture, and Politics

Photo by Maxime Larive
By Carlo Di Giulio

"The Future of Transatlantic Relations: Trade, Agriculture and Politics" was an exciting event hosted by the European Union Center on April 8, 2016 in Chicago. The roundtable at the Federal Reserve Bank shed light on the Transatlantic Trade Investment Partnership (better known with its acronym “TTIP”), the preferential trade agreement colossus and younger cousin of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) signed in the Fall by the United States and eleven Pacific countries.

The goal of these agreements is to reduce tariff and, even more important, non-tariff barriers to trade. The US and the EU, old and well established commercial partners, are looking to remove bureaucratic burdens while not lowering safety and qualitative standards for products and services. Although EU and US standards are both aimed to seek the best possible protection for consumers, they are often assessed following different procedures and thus are not fully recognized from each side. TTIP is also aimed to reduce these incongruences by recognizing equivalent rules and standards.

The high-profile panel offered an enlightening insight on the negotiations, with Prof. David Bullock as a moderator and a great number of questions from the public. But the event in Chicago was not only about the TTIP. Earlier in the afternoon, a lunch-buffet was accompanied by an informative session on the Master of Arts in European Union Studies (MAEUS) brilliantly conducted by Dr. Neil Vander Most, Visiting Coordinator of Academic Programs at the European Union Center of the University of Illinois. Perspective students and all those interested in the program had the opportunity to learn more about the MAEUS, and had many question answered during the presentation and the direct testimonials of current students.

The reception at the end of the event offered a chance to ask further questions of the panelists, as well as to discuss more informally among the participants on the future of the TTIP and Transatlantic relations. Nonetheless, great food and a friendly atmosphere made the event an even greater success.

In addition to this article, two collections of tweets from April 8 can be found below or can be found on our Twitter.  

Tweets from TTIP Day 2016
  

Tweets about #MAEUS from April 8, 2016

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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

EUC Washington DC Trip 2016: Part Five

Photo by Emma Duan
By Emma Duan

As a part of the professional development of our MAEUS students, the European Union Center offers students the opportunity for a trip to Washington D.C. in the Spring semester. This year's trip happened from March 21 to the 24. This article is Part Five of a series of posts written by different MAEUS students. In this article, Emma Duan writes about the final day of the trip, March 24. Previous entries in this series can be found here.


On the morning of March 24, led by the Associate Director Dr. Larivé, MAEUS students had a very informative meeting with officials at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). It began with a short presentation on the mission and organizational structure of the Foreign Agriculture Service. The undergoing TTIP negotiations were also touched upon. It was interesting to note that the term "biotechnology" was used instead of "GMOs." I guess that the choice of word reflects the different positions of the negotiating parties.


Photo by Emma Duan
The students also had a lovely conversation with two economists at the Agriculture Research Services. They shared with us their backgrounds and research methodologies, from data gathering to model building and refinement. To me, this was eye opening, as it was the first time that I had the chance to know how big data and the predictive analytics were used for non-business purposes. USDA also offers several pathway opportunities for students and recent graduates. Internships can be a stepping stone to full-time employment. Other suggestions offered by them? Get the job done; be nice to everyone and network.

This year the National Cherry Blossom Festival - the biggest springtime celebration at D.C.- started on 20th March right before our arrival. We could not afford to miss that. A walk surrounded by cherry blossoms from Jefferson Memorial to Martin Luther King Memorial is a unique offering of the Nation's Capital around this time of the year. We were just so lucky!


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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

EUC WASHINGTON DC TRIP 2016: PART FOUR

Photo by Maxime Larivé
By Ilias Bolaris

As a part of the professional development of our MAEUS students, the European Union Center offers students the opportunity for a trip to Washington D.C. in the Spring semester. This year's trip happened from March 21 to the 24. This article is Part Four of a series of posts written by different MAEUS students. In this article, Ilias Bolaris writes about the third day of the trip, March 23. Previous entries in this series can be found here.

The Washington D.C. trip organized by the European Union Center was an opportunity to meet with people that work in respected agencies and institutions and to discuss with them and collect information about their work and life in Washington D.C. All the meetings were productive and valuable. They encouraged us to apply for internships/jobs that we like and have a strategy in order to move forward.

Photo by Maxime Larivé
On the third day of our trip in Washington D.C. we had the opportunity to visit the Pew Research Center which is located in L Street. The Pew Research Center does not propose policies it is not a think tank but a fact tank. Its aim is to inform the people about public opinion and issues from various countries around the world. It conducts public opinion polling, demographic research, content analysis and collects information about all the issues that a young researcher would be interested in. Throughout the year the Center works with an amazing network in the multiple countries under study in order to conduct its research and after a work of many months they receive all the data and they start to analyze them. A researcher working for the Center told us that this is the time that they all wait for, and it is something that shows how excited and passionate they are about their research. Our host presented the Center’s function, and explained in detail the methods they use, how they cooperate with their partners and the different stages that they divide their work into from the beginning to the end of the year when they finish. He was willing to present as many surveys as possible, to analyze the data and discuss with us by asking questions about our opinion and our thoughts. I was impressed by the professionalism and the passion for research at Pew, which is a great source for researchers that need data for their projects.

The Pentagon was amazing as well. We met with a University of Illinois alumna who guided us trough the building. It was like being in a museum. There were pictures, paintings, maps, objects, and flags presenting the missions that have been undertaken throughout all these years. It was exciting to walk there and someone could spend the whole day discussing with others about history, battles, humanitarian disasters and people that served in the US army in the past. It was a very interesting meeting as we had the opportunity to see how someone working in the Pentagon sees Europe and how they work and prepare their reports with analysis about the EU and the region.

The D.C. trip was a great experience for all the students and something that I will remember for a long time.
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Monday, April 11, 2016

EUC Washington DC Trip 2016: Part Three


Photo by Maxime Larivé
By Raphaela Berding

As a part of the professional development of our MAEUS students, the European Union Center offers students the opportunity for a trip to Washington D.C. in the Spring semester. This year's trip happened from March 21 to the 24.  This article is Part Three of a series of posts written by different MAEUS students.  In this article, Raphaela Berding writes about the third day of the trip, March 23.  Previous entries in this series can be found here.

The day on Wednesday started relatively early. The first meeting was with a University of Illinois alumna and Assistant Director of Federal Relations, and a representative from Lewis-Burke Associates, at the University of Illinois presence in Washington. The people we met with work with the University of Illinois campuses’ faculty and staff, UA offices, the alumni association and the foundation in order to advance the educational, research, health, and economic development missions of the University. Their office reports to the Office of the President, and their work includes monitoring and informing the University stakeholders about federal legislation and initiatives.

The conversations during the meeting did not only revolve around their work but also around general advice about working in Washington. It was underlined by both how important it was to understand the priorities of the clients and pack the message so that they would right away see the benefits for them in it. Also, they stressed how important it was to have contacts in DC that would be of great help in order to get the foot into the DC door, for instance via an internship. The meeting was very insightful and it was interesting to see the work on the other side of the government.

The second meeting of the day was at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). We met with the Director of the Transatlantic Media Network, which brings journalists from different parts of Europe to the US, and is designed to foster closer relationships among US and European Journalists.

I got the opportunity to talk about my research which concerns the question of European identity and culture. This turned out to be very insightful for me because because the Director worked as a foreign correspondent, commentator and senior editor for the Financial Times and the International Herald Tribune, and was very critical of my research.

The trip to Washington DC was a very good opportunity not only to get input into our research but also to get an impression about job opportunities after graduation, and to see in which fields knowledge about the European Union was needed. It turned out that future job opportunities are very diverse. What all the people we met with emphasized is that when wanting to work on the Hill, it is important to maintain and build a good network because contacts and knowing the right people is a very important factor in DC.
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Friday, April 8, 2016

EUC Washington DC Trip 2016: Part Two

Photo by Maxime Larivé 

By Bethany Glock

As a part of the professional development of our MAEUS students, the European Union Center offers students the opportunity for a trip to Washington D.C. in the Spring semester. This year's trip happened from March 21 to the 24.  This article is Part Two of a series of posts written by different MAEUS students.  In this article, Bethany Glock writes about the second day of the trip, March 22.  Previous entries in this series can be found here.

On Tuesday, we awoke to the terrible news about the terrorist attacks in Brussels. Over a quick breakfast at Starbucks, we had some time to process what information about the attacks was available as well as our own thoughts about it before heading to our first meeting of the day at the U.S. Department of State.

Photo by Maxime Larivé
There we met with two public opinion analysts and a Foreign Service Officer who discussed the nature of their work and how they got to their current positions. The Foreign Service Officer was himself a graduate of the University of Illinois. However, the main points they made were ones we would hear numerous times before we left DC: make good connections and be kind to others. It’s not that being excellent at what you do is unimportant, but lots of people are exceptional. Moving up also depends on being able to work with those around you.

When we went to lunch following our meeting, we were joined by a friend of mine who I knew from my undergraduate institution and is now an intern at the State Dept. It was great to catch up and talk about how she likes living and working in DC and hear her perspective on what life in Washington after grad school is like as someone who is currently living it.

Photo by Maxime Larivé
Our next stop was the EU Delegation to the US. Of course, the subject on everyone’s minds was Brussels, so they addressed that issue first. They told us that the response from the US was extremely swift and the EU and US have established strong law enforcement co-operation. We also discussed the migrant crisis, climate change, energy security, and Brexit. Though I am sure we could have talked for much longer, we had to be on our way to our next meeting.

Our next stop was at the Swedish embassy, where we met with two Swedish diplomats. One of them was a specialist in trade and economy, and the other was a specialist in fine arts and culture. It was fascinating not only to hear their thoughts on Sweden, the EU, and the United States, but also to hear them discuss how they became diplomats because neither of them took a very orthodox route. One of them was once a cowboy in Colorado!

Finally, we ended the day by walking around Georgetown, where we saw Georgetown University as well as the very pleasant (and expensive!) neighborhood around it. An excellent dinner together ended our very long but very informative day.
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Thursday, April 7, 2016

EUC Washington DC Trip 2016: Part One

Picture by Maxime Larivé
By Andrew Schwenk

As a part of the professional development of our MAEUS students, the European Union Center offers students the opportunity for a trip to Washington D.C. in the Spring semester.  This year's trip happened from March 21 to the 24.  This article is Part One of a series of posts written by different MAEUS students.  In this article, Andrew Schwenk writes about the first day of the trip, March 21.

On the first day of our trip in Washington D.C., we visited the Law Library of Congress and a staffer for U.S. Representative Rodney Davis. The Library of Congress was located in a beautiful building that contained a stacks' section that made the stacks at the University of Illinois pale in comparison. The librarians that we met there are all responsible for being generally knowledgeable on a certain body of law, such as the law of France and the French-speaking world. Their job consists of addressing questions that Congress has about the law of their area when it is relevant for the U.S. legislative process. The librarians informed us that non-lawyers could also get jobs as analysts at the Law Library of Congress or could apply to another part of the library. As would become a theme during our trip, they also urged us to regularly check usajobs.gov for relevant openings for our skill-sets and interests.

We also learned good Washington networking tips at our meeting with an Illinois staffer on the Hill. He told us that a good way to get a job in Congress is to actively work with a political campaign. If your candidate is successful, it could mean an automatic job in Washington for you. But even if that is not the case, getting your face and skills known in political circles is essential to getting a job in the legislature and in Washington in general. Everyone we talked to on our trip seemed to emphasize the importance of doing an internship and being nice to everyone you meet if you wish to have a career in Washington. On the more substantive side of things, he also advised us to concentrate on becoming an expert on one policy area and to read the news everyday on issues that affect it. While getting a job in Washington is tough, we learned that there are definitely ways to achieve it, if one is strategic about how one goes about it.
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