Dear UACES colleague,
This is my first column as Chair since the UK’s departure from the EU. I am sure for many of you, particularly those based in the UK, this was a day of reflection and contemplation. My sentiments on the day were of sadness as I considered what the UK’s exit meant to me personally. I remembered that my very first vote as a UK citizen was at the 1984 European election, one month after my 18th birthday, and that I had voted in every European election, bar the first one in 1979. Reflecting on this loss of EU citizenship, I kept busy by doing some work for various French media outlets. My discussion on France24 centred on the UK’s continued participation (or not) in the Erasmus+ scheme in the next funding cycle, which is due to run from 2021 to 2027.
As I write this column, there is still a lack of clarity as to whether the UK will remain part of Erasmus+ and whether it will feature as a part of the UK’s future relationship with the EU. My fellow UACES Officers and I issued the following statement about this in January. We raised our concern about what the impact of not remaining part of the scheme would mean for our members, for the students we teach, for our university departments and for the discipline of European Studies as a whole.
Despite this uncertainty, UACES as an association remains as active and as vibrant as ever. This was clearly illustrated by the recent event we hosted in Brussels titled ‘UK and EU Environmental Policies post-Brexit: Towards “rivalrous emulation”?’ My congratulations to Dr Viviane Gravey and Dr Paul Tobin for an interesting and inspiring debate. A video recording of the event is available and you can listen to Viviane and Paul discussing this topic further in this podcast.
Preparations continue for our 50th Annual Conference in Belfast in September. As the UK and the EU seek to finalise their post-Brexit relationship, I cannot think of a more appropriate destination for our 50th conference. The programme and panels are currently being finalised and registration will open in late March. I look forward to seeing many of you in Belfast in six months’ time for this milestone celebration.
UACES was recently present at the EU Studies Fair in Brussels on the 15th of February, the annual event sponsored by Politico, where many of Europe’s leading institutions gather to promote their undergraduate and postgraduate programmes to potential students from the Benelux countries and beyond. UACES had a busy stand at the conference and I gave a brief talk on ‘How to make the right choice of EU Studies.’ It was great to talk to the next generation of European Studies scholars about studying the EU and about the role of UACES.
Next month on the 5th and 6th of March the inaugural workshop of our Erasmus+ Jean-Monnet-funded project DIMES (Diversity, Inclusion and Multidisciplinarity in European Studies) takes place in Leiden. We have had an excellent response to our call for papers and I am sure this will be a stimulating event to launch this exciting project.
Following the successful Doctoral Training Academy event in November, our Graduate Forum (GF) remains as active ever. The GF Committee are in the process of finalising their annual conference, which this year will take place in Berlin in July. Watch out for further details on our website.
I am delighted to confirm the launch of the following new UACES Research Networks following our recent call for expressions of interest – you can find out more about the Networks selected below – The quality of applications was high and my thanks to all those that applied for this funding.
Nominations have now closed for the UACES Officer roles of Secretary and for the new role of Equality, Diversion and Inclusion (EDI) Officer and for the vacancies on the Committee of Trustees. Watch out for further news on these roles by email in due course.
Finally, on behalf of the Association, I would like to thank Helena Cicmil for all her work as Digital Communications Officer over the last two and a half years. Helena will be much missed and I wish her all the best as she embarks on her new role. I am delighted to announce that we have recently appointed Melina Dieckgraber as Helena’s replacement and I am sure that colleagues will want to join me in welcoming her to the UACES community.
As ever, do email me if you have any suggestions about the Association and its future.
Nicholas Startin, University of Bath
19 February 2020
New UACES Research Networks: