Welcome ceremony for the class of 2020-2021

September 11th, 2020 

I am Ramona Coman, professor in political science at the Université libre de Bruxelles and President of the Institute.

Emmanuelle Bribosia, professor in European Law and IEE Vice-president, Nicolas Verschueren, professor in Contemporary European History and IEE Director, the IEE team and I would like to extend our warmest welcome and our congratulations on your admission to the Class of 2020-2021.

Today the ULB opens its 187th academic year since its foundation in 1834.

Today our Institute for European Studies opens a new chapter of its shorter history as we welcome its 58th generation of students since its establishment in 1964.

The beginning of each academic year is a key moment for us and for you.


For us, as of from next week, we will share with you in the classrooms our intellectual curiosity to understand the complexity of our world and most particularly of the European Union. We hope to do this every day, in person, depending on the COVID-19 situation. We will seek to shed light with you on questions that matter for all of us as scholars and citizens.  What can the EU do to overcome the effects of the current health crisis? How are our rights affected by the current pandemic? How to cope with increasing inequality? These are only some of the possible questions that we will discuss here through the lenses of political science, economy, history and law, as our IEE is an interdisciplinary research and teaching Institute.

This is an important moment for you too and we hope that the Master program of your choice will open your mind and also the doors for professional careers matching your expectations.

The Institute is a teaching institution which organizes, as you already know, several master programs in collaboration with our partner faculties: the Faculty of Philosophy and Social Science, which organizes the Master in European Studies with IEE label; the Faculty of Law and Criminology which organizes the Specialized Master in EU Law and Solvay Brussels Schools of Economics and Management which organizes also two Master focused on European Public Policy and Economics. The three faculties together with the IEE organize the Specialised Master in EU Interdisciplinary Studies.

The Institute has an old tradition in doing research and teaching in EU studies.

Established in 1963 thanks to Walter Ganshof van der Meersch, professor of law at ULB at that time, who understood the role that the law will play in the process of European integration, it is only in 1964 that the Institute was officially  inaugurated by Paul Henry Spaak, several times Belgium Prime Minister. The IEE was at that time one of the firsts of its kind in Western Europe.

Since then, in this superb villa, designed in 1928 by the architect Adrien Blomme and located on Avenue Franklin Roosevelt 39, more than 7.500 students learned about the European Union, met friends, husbands and wives, had parties in the garden and in our three nice classrooms, stressed for an exam, celebrated small or big achievements…

The Institute has welcomed students from different parts of the world. At the beginning, they were mainly coming from the six founding member states of the European Communities. The first rounds of enlargement transformed the Institute and, as the EU grew, so did our community, opening its doors to students coming since 1964 from 42 countries.

At the IEE studied Eliane Vogel-Polsky, Belgian lawyer, professor at the ULB teaching European social law, known for her defense of women’s rights. She was among the first IEE students. Clara Martinez Alberola, former Head of Cabinet of Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission and currently Deputy Head of the Task Force for Relations with the United Kingdom; Maria Eugenia Martins Nazare Ribeiro (judge au at the Court of First Instance) and also two former EU commissioners – Pedro Solbes and Dimitris Avramopoulos; Pedro Sanchez, Prime Minister of Spain ; Jo Johnson, British Conservative Party Politician who served as Minister of State several times and also resigned because of the Brexit saga (he was in favor of Remain), Paul Magnette, mayor of Charleroi and President of the Belgian Socialist Party, many other alumni working now in different places, including myself, proud alumna of the class of 2003.

If you are curious to know more about our former students, I invite you to have a look at our Alumni study available inside.

This diversity characterizes our community and makes our debates and discussions more interesting.

This is why we are thrilled to welcome you today, our 58th generation of students!

We hope that the Institute will be the place where you will grow intellectually, you will make plans for your future and will become a part of our community.

Allow me to give now the floor to Vice President Emmanuelle Bribosia who will talk about our two first missions. Nicolas Verschueren, IEE Director, will take over with a few words about our teaching in EU studies and its specificities. To conclude, we will give the floor to the representatives of our students’ associations: SAIES, Eyes on Europe, la SPECQUE and WIIS.

Welcome again!

I can’t wait to see you soon in my classes soon.

Professor Ramona Coman, President of the IEE