The College of Europe (French: Collège d'Europe) is an independent university institute of postgraduate European studies with the main campus in Bruges, Belgium. It was founded in 1949 by such leading European figures and founding fathers of the European Union as Salvador de Madariaga, Winston Churchill, Paul-Henri Spaak and Alcide De Gasperi in the wake of the Hague Congress of 1948 to promote "a spirit of solidarity and mutual understanding between all the nations of Western Europe and to provide elite training to individuals who will uphold these values" and "to train an elite of young executives for Europe." It has the status of "Institution of Public Interest", operating according to Belgian law. Since 1993 the college also has an additional campus in Warsaw, Poland.
Students are usually selected in cooperation with their countries' ministries of foreign affairs, and admission is highly competitive. The number of students each year used to be very low—for several decades less than 100—but has increased since the early 1990s. The College of Europe is bilingual, and students must be proficient in English and French. Students receive an advanced master's degree (formerly called Diploma and Certificat) following a one-year programme. Traditionally, students specialise in either European law, international economics (i.e., European economic studies), or European political and administrative studies; in recent years, additional programmes have been created.
According to The Times, the "College of Europe, in the medieval Belgian city of Bruges, is to the European political elite what the Harvard Business School is to American corporate life. It is a hothouse where the ambitious and talented go to make contacts". The Economist describes it as "an elite finishing school for aspiring Eurocrats." The Financial Times writes that "the elite College of Europe in Bruges" is "an institution geared to producing crop after crop of graduates with a lifelong enthusiasm for EU integration." Former European Commissioner for Education Ján Figeľ described the college as "one of the most emblematic centres of European studies in the European Union". The BBC has referred to it as "the EU's very own Oxbridge". The college has also been described as "the leading place to study European affairs" and as "the elite training center for the European Union's political class". RFE/RL has referred to the college as "a Euro-federalist hot-spot." The Global Mail has described its students as "Europe's leaders-in-waiting."
Each academic year is named for a patron and referred to as a promotion. The academic year is opened by a leading European politician. The College of Europe in Belgium shares several traditions with the École nationale d'administration (ENA) of France, but has a more European focus. Its anciens include the former Prime Minister of Denmark Helle Thorning-Schmidt, the former Prime Minister of Finland Alexander Stubb, the former British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg as well as the former Minister for Europe of Italy Enzo Moavero Milanesi, several of whom have also been professors at the college. Many of its anciens go on to serve as diplomats and senior civil servants in European institutions.
The College of Europe was the world’s first university institute of postgraduate studies and training in European affairs. It was founded in 1949 by leading European figures, such as Salvador de Madariaga, Winston Churchill, Paul-Henri Spaak and Alcide De Gasperi, in the wake of the Hague Congress of 1948. They imagined a college where Europe's future leaders, some from countries only a short while before at war with each other, could live and study together. The Hague Congress also led to the creation of the European Movement.
A group of Bruges citizens led by the Reverend Karel Verleye succeeded in attracting the college to Bruges. Professor Hendrik Brugmans, one of the intellectual leaders of the European Movement and the President of the Union of European Federalists, became its first Rector (1950–1972).
After the fall of communism, and in the wake of the changes in Central and Eastern Europe, the College of Europe campus at Natolin (Warsaw, Poland), was founded in 1993 with the support of the European Commission and the Polish government. The college now operates as ‘one College – two campuses,’ and what was once referred to as the ‘esprit de Bruges’, is now known as the ‘esprit du Collège’.
The number of enrolled students has increased significantly since the 1990s.
The College of Europe originally had no permanent teaching staff; the courses were taught by prominent academics and sometimes government officials from around Europe. Especially in the last couple of decades, the college has increasingly employed professors and other teaching staff on a permanent basis.
Admission to the College of Europe is highly competitive. Application may be made to national selection committees or by direct application to the College of Europe for individuals from a country where no selection committee exists. As of 2014, there are 28 national selection committees.
The Bruges campus is situated in the centre of Bruges, which was appointed European Capital of Culture in 2002. Bruges is located in the Flemish Region of Belgium, a Dutch-speaking area, although the college does not use Dutch as one of its working languages.
It consists of the following campus buildings:
The college's main administrative building on the Bruges campus, with the reception, offices, classrooms and the library.
Since 2007 the Verversdijk buildings of the College of Europe provide additional auditoria, teaching rooms and offices for academics, research fellows and staff and will allow the college to extend its activities.
The Hotel Portinari in Garenmarkt 15 with its classical façade was formerly home to Tommaso Portinari, the administrator of the Florentine "Loggia de Medici" in the 15th century in Bruges. It contains eleven apartments for professors and forty student rooms, two "salons" in 19th-century style, the "salon du Recteur" with 18th-century wall paintings and a modern "Mensa" for students.
The college has a system of residences in the centre of Bruges and not far from the Dijver where the main administrative and academic building and the library are situated. None of the residences lodges more than 60 students so that each residence in fact has its own small multinational and multicultural environment.
The Natolin Warsaw campus of the college was established in 1992 in response to the revolutions of 1989 and in anticipation of the European Union’s enlargement.
Today, the Natolin campus is part of a 120-hectare historical park and nature reserve—formerly the Royal hunting palace of Natolin—situated in the southern part of Warsaw about 20 minutes by metro from the city centre. The Natolin European Centre Foundation takes care of the complex and has conducted restoration of the former Potocki palace, making it available for the college.
The old historical buildings, including the manor house, the stables and the coach house, were converted to the needs of modern times and new buildings were constructed in a style keeping with the harmony of the palace and its outlying park.
The one-year programme lasts from September until the end of June and is taught in English and French. It includes lectures, research seminars, workshops and meetings with external specialists and various language courses. To be awarded the degree, students must take oral and written examinations at the end of each semester, and submit a 15 ECTS master’s thesis in English or French. The thesis gives students the opportunity to undertake individual research, conducted primarily in the second semester, under the supervision of a faculty member. The programmes are enriched by study trips to the European institutions and, for students at Natolin (Warsaw), also to neighbouring countries. Due to the college’s extensive network of contacts, students have the opportunity to meet and discuss with policy-makers, practitioners and representatives of the business community throughout their year at the college.
From 1949 to the 1990s, students in Bruges enrolled in three programmes:
In recent years, other programmes have been created:
At Natolin (Warsaw) campus, the study programme European Interdisciplinary Studies offers four majors: European Public Affairs and Policies, The EU as a Global Actor, European History and Civilisation, and The European Neighbourhood Policy and the EU's Neighbours.
The academic programmes of the College of Europe are accredited by the Dutch-Flemish Accreditation Organisation (NVAO). Each study programme corresponds to a total of 66 credits (ECTS).
Annual intakes are highly selective and student selection takes place in the Spring, usually in association with the foreign affairs ministries of their respective countries of origin. The Bruges programmes typically require a university degree in economics, law, political science or international relations plus advanced knowledge of the working languages of the college.
Since its establishment, the College of Europe in Bruges traditionally awards three degrees, in law, economics and political and administrative studies. The degrees are today known as:
Newer degrees include:
The Master of Arts in Transatlantic Affairs (MATA) programme was inaugurated in 2017. It is the first-ever two-year programme of studies at the College of Europe. Offered together with The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy (Tufts University, Medford, MA, USA), the programme leads to a joint diploma. Students spend one year at each institution, and can start the programme on either side of the Atlantic. They can choose to follow one of five study tracks (Economic Studies (Bruges); International Relations and Diplomacy (Bruges); Interdisciplinary Studies (Natolin); Legal Studies (Bruges); Political and Governance Studies (Bruges)). The first year of studies is entirely dedicated to coursework, including multidisciplinary courses on transatlantic affairs. During their second year, students in the MATA programme do a high-level internship as well as one semester of coursework culminating in the submission of a master’s thesis. The MATA programme leads to 120 ECTS points and is offered in English.
Until the 1980s, the master's degree was officially known as the Certificate of Advanced European Studies (French: Certificat de Hautes Études Européennes) followed by the specialisation (law, economics or political and administrative studies). As part of European standardisation, the degree was renamed into the first three master's degrees listed above.
The Administrative Council, presided by Mr Íñigo Méndez de Vigo, Spanish Minister for European Affairs and former Member of the European Parliament, includes representatives of the countries hosting the two campuses in Bruges (Belgium) and Natolin (Warsaw) and of European governments. It is the highest decision-making authority, and is responsible for the approval and implementation of the college’s objectives and activities of the college on the rector's proposal.
The Executive Committee exerts the delegations which were entrusted to him by the Administrative Council. Reporting to the Administrative Council, the it ensures the sound financial and administrative management of the College. The Rector & Vice-Rector Rector Jörg Monar directs and coordinates the College’s activities, and is assisted by the Vice-Rector, Ewa Ośniecka-Tamecka, who is responsible for the day-today administration of the campus in Natolin (Warsaw).
The Academic Council represents the academic community of the College of Europe and ensures the maintenance and development of high level teaching activities and research. It is chaired by the Rector.
The rector directs and coordinates the college’s activities.
The vice rector is responsible for the day-today administration of the Natolin (Warsaw) campus.
Many former students of the College, referred to as anciens (French for alumni), have gone on to serve as government ministers, members of various parliaments, diplomats and high-ranking civil servants and executives.
Alumni of note of the College of Europe in Bruges, Belgium (from 1949) include:
Alumni of note of the College of Europe in Natolin, Poland (from 1993) include:
Academic years at the College are known as promotions. Each promotion is named after an outstanding European, referred to as the promotion's patron. The College of Europe shares this tradition with the French École nationale d'administration (ENA).
The opening ceremony each year is presided over by a prominent politician, referred to as the Orateur; they have included Angela Merkel, David Miliband, Jean-Claude Juncker, Javier Solana, José Manuel Barroso, Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, Juan Carlos I of Spain, Margaret Thatcher and François Mitterrand. Being invited as the college's Orateur is considered a high honour.
|Year||Name of promotion (Patron)||Students||Speaker at opening ceremony (Orateur)
Bruges unless otherwise noted;
Bruges always listed first
Bruges unless otherwise noted
|2017-2018||Simone Veil||António Costa & Andrzej Duda (Natolin)|
|2016–2017||John Maynard Keynes||467||Jean-Claude Juncker (Bruges) and Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze (Natolin)|
|2015–2016||Frédéric Chopin||479||Alexander Stubb (Bruges) and Johannes Hahn (Natolin)|
|2014–2015||Falcone & Borsellino||437||Mariano Rajoy (Bruges) and Petro Poroshenko (Natolin, cancelled)|
|2013–2014||Voltaire||445||Íñigo Méndez de Vigo (Bruges) and Bronisław Komorowski (Natolin)|
|2012–2013||Václav Havel||444||Helle Thorning-Schmidt (Bruges) & Vladimir Filat (Natolin)|
|2011–2012||Marie Sklodowska-Curie||448||Giorgio Napolitano (Bruges) & José Manuel Barroso (Natolin)|
|2010–2011||Albert Einstein||435||Angela Merkel (Bruges) & Štefan Füle (Natolin)|
|2009–2010||Charles Darwin||402||Jerzy Buzek (Bruges) & Toomas Hendrik Ilves (Natolin)|
|2008–2009||Marcus Aurelius||381||Yves Leterme (Bruges) & Hans-Gert Pöttering (Natolin)|
|2007–2008||Anna Politkovskaya & Hrant Dink||415||David Miliband (Bruges) & Carl Bildt (Natolin)|
|2006–2007||Nicolaus Copernicus||413||Jean-Claude Juncker (Bruges) & Alaksandar Milinkievič (Natolin)|
|2005–2006||Ludwig van Beethoven||384||Javier Solana (Bruges) & Viktor Yushchenko (Natolin)|
|2004–2005||Montesquieu||404||José Manuel Barroso (Bruges) & Josep Borrell Fontelles (Natolin)||Nikola Poposki|
|2003–2004||John Locke||391||Joschka Fischer (Bruges) & Danuta Hübner (Natolin)|
|2002–2003||Bertha von Suttner||370||Valéry Giscard d'Estaing (Bruges) & Erhard Busek (Natolin)|
|2001–2002||Simon Stevin||365||Aleksander Kwasniewski (Bruges) & Guy Verhofstadt (Natolin)|
|2000–2001||Aristotle||375||George Papandreou (Bruges) & Jan Kulakowski (Natolin)|
|1999–2000||Wilhelm & Alexander von Humboldt||374||Jacques Delors (Bruges) & Jean-Luc Dehaene (Natolin)|
|1998–1999||Leonardo da Vinci||337||Jean-Luc Dehaene (Bruges) & Prince Philippe, Duke of Brabant (Natolin)|
|1997–1998||Hendrik Brugmans||326||António Guterres (Bruges) & Ursula Stenzel (Natolin)|
|1996–1997||Alexis de Tocqueville||319||Wim Kok (Bruges) & Aleksander Kwasniewski (Natolin)||Ledi Bianku|
|1995–1996||Walter Hallstein||306||Klaus Hänsch (Bruges) & Jacques Santer (Natolin)||Aude Maio-Coliche|
|1994–1995||Ramon Llull||296||Juan Carlos I of Spain (Bruges) & Andrzej Olechowski (Natolin)||Valerie Plame, Alexander Stubb, Alyn Smith (Natolin)|
|1993–1994||Stefan Zweig||263||Thomas Klestil||Geert Van Calster|
|1992–1993||Charles IV||264||Jacques Santer||Helle Thorning-Schmidt, Stephen Kinnock|
|1991–1992||Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart||212||Flavio Cotti||Nick Clegg, Árni Páll Árnason, Luis Garicano, Miriam González Durántez|
|1990–1991||Hans & Sophie Scholl||245||Richard von Weizsäcker|
|1989–1990||Denis de Rougemont||200||Jacques Delors|
|1988–1989||Christopher Dawson||204||Margaret Thatcher||David McWilliams, Sylvie Lucas, Gry Tina Tinde|
|1987–1988||Altiero Spinelli||178||François Mitterrand|
|1986–1987||William Penn||177||Ruud Lubbers|
|1985–1986||Christopher Columbus||158||Felipe Gonzalez||Chris Hoornaert, Margaritis Schinas|
|1984–1985||Madame de Staël||123||Altiero Spinelli|
|1983–1984||Jean Rey||133||Garret FitzGerald||Marc van der Woude, Fiona Hayes-Renshaw, Carine Van Regenmortel, Christian Lequesne|
|1982–1983||Joseph Bech||122||Gaston Thorn|
|1981–1982||Johan Willem Beyen||123||Bruno Kreisky||Xavier Prats Monné, Mary O'Rourke, Enzo Moavero Milanesi, Margunn Bjørnholt, Peter Arbo, Bernadette Andreosso-O'Callaghan, Karl Cox|
|1980–1981||Jean Monnet||131||Simone Veil||Philippe Régnier|
|1979–1980||Salvador de Madariaga||140||Dries van Agt||Ursula Plassnik, Andrew Tyrie, Martin Donnelly, Marc Jaeger|
|1978–1979||Paul-Henri Spaak||130||Guy Spitaels||Claudia Kahr, Bruno de Witte|
|1977–1978||Karl Renner||128||Mario Soares||Louise Fréchette, Ferdinand Trauttmansdorff, Holger Michael, Thomas Mayr-Harting|
|1976–1977||Peter Paul Rubens||120||Leo Tindemans||Jonathan Faull|
|1975–1976||Adam Jerzy Czartoryski||101||Edgar Faure||David O'Sullivan|
|1974–1975||Aristide Briand||111||Herman De Croo||Simon Hughes|
|1973–1974||Giuseppe Mazzini||92||Karl Otto Pöhl||Manuel Marín, Ioanna Babassika|
|1972–1973||Richard von Coudenhove-Kalergi||59||George Brown, Baron George-Brown||Jo Leinen, Poul Skytte Christoffersen, Jaap de Zwaan|
|1971–1972||Dante Alighieri||58||Altiero Spinelli & Hendrik Brugmans||Loukas Tsoukalis, Iwo Byczewski|
|1970–1971||Winston Churchill||57||Jean Rey & Hendrik Brugmans||Luc Coene, Niels Egelund|
|1969–1970||William the Silent||49||Prince Albert of Belgium & Hendrik Brugmans||Berno Kjeldsen|
|1968–1969||Konrad Adenauer||47||Robert van Schendel & Hendrik Brugmans||Robert Verrue|
|1967–1968||Comenius||54||Alfons de Vreese||Nuala Mole, Helen Wallace, Lady Wallace of Saltaire|
|1966–1967||George C. Marshall||56||Jean Rey & Hendrik Brugmans||Goenawan Mohamad|
|1965–1966||Thomas More||52||Hendrik Brugmans||Adrien Zeller, Josef Joffe, Nigel Forman|
|1964–1965||Robert Schuman||45||Salvador de Madariaga & Hendrik Brugmans||Lars-Jacob Krogh|
|1963–1964||Thomas Paine||48||Hendrik Brugmans||Helmut Türk|
|1962–1963||August Vermeylen||46||Pierre Harmel & Hendrik Brugmans||György Schöpflin|
|1961–1962||Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz||37||Hugo Geiger & Hendrik Brugmans||Albert Rohan|
|1960–1961||Saint-Simon||38||Hendrik Brugmans||Leif Terje Løddesøl|
|1959–1960||Sully||43||Hendrik Brugmans||Torolf Raa, Gabriel Fragnière|
|1958–1959||Fridtjof Nansen||40||Hendrik Brugmans||Franz Ceska, Frans Alphons Maria Alting von Geusau|
|1957–1958||Henry the Navigator||40||Hendrik Brugmans||Guy Spitaels|
|1956–1957||Raoul Dautry||36||Hendrik Brugmans||Jim Oberstar|
|1955–1956||Virgil||33||Hendrik Brugmans||Francesco Paolo Fulci|
|1954–1955||Alcide De Gasperi||36||Hendrik Brugmans|
|1953–1954||Erasmus||39||Hendrik Brugmans||Ian McIntyre|
|1952–1953||Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk||40||Hendrik Brugmans||Jon Ola Norbom, Otto von der Gablentz|
|1951–1952||Juan Vives||30||Hendrik Brugmans|
|1950–1951||Antoine de Saint-Exupéry||35||Hendrik Brugmans||Werner Ungerer, Gaetano Adinolfi|
|1949||Préparatoire (no name)||22||Victor Van Hoestenberghe & Salvador de Madariaga|
The College houses several academic chairs as well as the Global Competition Law Centre. It publishes several books every year, four series of working papers and an academic journal called Collegium, devoted to the European integration process.
International conferences have been held at the College since it was founded. These events have become fora for informed discussion on topics that are complementary to the academic expertise of the College, like the annual conference on Humanitarian Law, organised in cooperation with the International Committee of the Red Cross. It is also common to have several European prime ministers deliver a speech during the academic year.
Since the early 1980s, the College has developed a relevant consultancy activity, especially in the field of analysis of EC law. Based on the College's first experiences with service contracts, notably in the field of codification of European Law and related to the implementation of the Internal Market, the Development Office was created to participate in tender procedures and to manage the teams of researchers working under these service contracts.
Over the past 10 years, the College of Europe has been organising cooperation projects funded by various EU programmes, either in consortia with academic partners, companies and law firms, or on its own account. Under TEMPUS programmes, projects for curriculum building in European Studies were set up. With the EU’s PHARE, TACIS and CARDS funding the College provided professional training and consultancy in EU affairs in nearly all applicant countries, in Russia and in the CIS. In addition the Office has also involved the College in similar co-operation projects in the framework of the MED-CAMPUS Programme and more recently with EuropeAid funding in Latin America and Asia. The Development Office is now involved in professional training projects and European Studies programmes held in Europe and abroad.
The College has started to organise professional training courses and seminars on European integration issues with partners such as professional, trade and other associations, private companies and administrations. Officials from the European institutions and national administrations have attended tailor-made training programmes.
It is no accident that institutes such as the celebrated Ecole Nationale d'Administration in France or the College of Europe in Belgium produce so many political leaders.
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