For some time now, I have observed the developments of my alma mater, College of Europe, with trepidation and growing concern. I graduated in 1995 as part of the fierce Ramon Llul-promotion. I want to see changes to how the College is managed and the product – the kind of candidates – it puts on the job market and onto the European institutions.

Here are some points for your use and consideration on how to put the College on a right keel.

1.The Diplomatic Academy

It is a welcome decision to establish a Diplomatic Academy, and a long-standing desire of the European Parliament since the publication of the Galleano-report I+II. But this is not the message College of Europe is sending when it runs two parallel tracks – a diplomatic academy and a master in diplomacy and international relations. This signals an unfortunate inclination to import divisions about what the EEAS is and should be: the external branch of the EU Commission, The Diplomatic Service of the EU, a prolonged arm of the member states. Clearly, the EEAS is and should be all three things at the same time. This is already discernible from the recruitment base of EEAS determined in Article 27. Lets build on that. So much more should momentum be building for CFSP to become an exclusive competence of the EU Commission ( via a merger of title V and Part V towards a shared competence in terms of artivle 2(2), QMW and an External Secretary). Instead, the students are made into guinea pigs and an arena for grown-ups to play out their disagreements. And the female practice of competing over their children’s education, dress and looks reinforces thsi impression and is a passion gone astray which often lead to abuses.  This nonsense must stop.

Thus, I expect the Administrative Council to make a decisions on merging the master program in diplomacy and the diplomatic academy as soon as possible based on a comparative study on other region’s diplomatic academies and a hard-nosed assessment of the optimal use of resources.

2.From Executive training to CoE – Centre of Leadership

The College of Europe has decided to establish an executive training module. I endorse this projet since the specialized nature of EU integration suggest special insights into how executive disciplines apply to an EU context. I want a sharpening of this trend by establishing a College of Europe Center of Leadership proper which shall offer courses at a substantial reduced rate to the students, which should be compulsory and possibly on-line. The course offerings would draw on existing offerings that are currently optional clusters within the generalised course program, and should be professionalized in cooperation with leading business schools such as LSE, IMD, Insead, Administradores, Stanford, Harvard, MIT. etc. The rank-and-file of the member state’s foreign ministries should similiarly do compulsory vocational training on-site or on-line at a higher rate. Alumni offered courses at a reduced rate. Outsiders invited in at full rate. In the future, public leaders and not mere bureaucrats are to come out of the educational fabric of College of Europe, candidates who are not being stressed and put through the pressure cooker but who are given  time to grow and given space to develop into creative, versatile and effective European public leaders.

It is not enough to be a man of peace. If you cannot think clearly, you cannot do good deeds. Personal development and professional training is a human right. And while the act of leadership is a performance act, developing into a leader is not one of man’s innate faculties but an applied art which often begins with an inner journey.

3.College of Europe-South in Tirana

This must be the oddest new kid on the block. I don’t doubt the need for a better-funded study of South Eastern Europe, the need for deep country knowledge, and the need for massive investments as the Eu reconstructs its enlargement startegy.,- Europe must be brought into Se Europe, Balkans into EU. The 2+4bn allocated by the EU summit in Tirana suggests like a tailor in Hell. It is high noon someone take the spoon into the right hand.

Turkey has an important role in underpinning Euro-Atlantic integration of the Balkans,has its own interests, but also need to internalise rather than instrumentalise Europe. The study of the foreign policies of the South East European countries seems a neglected area. The South-Eastern Europe straddles the Adriatic, the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. This has implications for the design of the program still to be grasped beyond litterary accounts. There is the Jewish heritage of Thessaloniki and Sarajevo, home to the Sarajevo Haggadah a propos ex nihilo creations. There are several works out now ( Bechev, Morys, Hannappi, Dallara , Geddes, Keil, Liebscher,Kentera, King and Frykman, Bartlett & Uvalic, Florian Bieber, David Nicolle, Pål Kolstø, Benett & Kincaid, Hans Vermeulen & van Boeschoten Migration in the Southern Balkans, Rashkova & Sankina, Grandits, Grigore & Dinu, Jens Schmitt, Hadzialic, Schreiner & Jens Schmitt, Istvan Vasary Cumans and Tartars, Russel King & Povrazanovic Frykman, Dragostiova & Ivanova. Dzankic & Keil, & Kacarska, Carola Sachse, David Nicolle’s Cross and Crescent , Rhoads Murphy Imperial Legacies, Dimitris Stamatopoulos’ European revolutions and The ottoman Balkans War, Frederick Anscombe, Stefka Parveva Village, Town, People. Erkan Karakoc & Ali Serdar Mete The Balkan Wars, Evguenia Davidova Wealth in the Ottoman Balkans, James D. Tracy Balkan Wars, Misha Glenny, Leyla Amzi Erdogular The Afterlife of Ottoman Empire, Daut Dauti Britain and the Albanian National Question, Aleksandar Pavlovic Rethinking Serbia-Albania Relations, Andrew Rawson Balkan Struggles: A century of Civil War, Invasion, Coomunism and Genocide, Sylvie Gangloff La Perception de heritage ottoman dans les Balkan, Mark Mozower, Alina Mungiu-Peppidi, Marie Janine Calic not to mention Ivetic and Kaplan on the Adriatic). That is to say, the stabilisation of the Western Balkans requires more than an EU membership perspective and anger management in Moscow’s direction. It has always involved dynamic disequilibria inside the EU , and turned around Serbia’s orientation, the quality of the politicians in Bosnia and Albanian nationalism. Underlying all this is the grand bargain between Germany and France, whereby EU would develop its defence policies in return for Turkey’s accession to EU, provided a solution on Cyprus and domestic reform, and between Germany and the United States whereby EU and NATO accession would run in parrallel. From the regional perspective, the accession of Macedonia and Montenegro remains a priority. To lead change, strong leadership and good management are necessary. Thus, the rationale of the Tirana-project is not convincing or has not been articulated in a convincing manner and does not address the challenges and opportunites of the situation. It seeks to shape an essentially open-ended process – on the cheap. The quality of the faculty is uncertain. It largely depends on the director of studies, who is now being hired.

We hear: The Albanian government wanted this. So what ? In Natolin, there was a campus and student residences. In Tirana, we are told there are modern dormitories in a high-riser out of which 15 cubicles are reserved for COE-students and that the Tirana branch will be housed temporarily in the ISE- institute and that Eu studies 30 years after the fall of the Wall remain buried in the Department of Philology – Hoxha. Another oddity is the title of the master offered: The Transformation and Integration master. By happenstance, I adhere to the transformation school and I am coaching in my leadership style, but since when has the educational streams of the College been titled after theoretical schools ? Is the problem the professors are not sufficiently trained in leadership ? Does Albania have a problem moving from myth to reality ?

I propose to shelve the project and to reinforce the training in subjects related to the south-eastern Europe, to increase the number of scholarships available for the Balkan students and to triple funding for the production of educational material on topical issues related to South-Eastern Europe. Support for changes in educational policy and recruitment of young talent may also underpin transformation of the Albanian institutions and should threfore be wholheaertedly endorsed by the EU throughout SE Europe within time, budget and competences and on a how to do it-basis.

Certainly, EU membership may contribute to mature Albania as a political nation, the relationship between generations and the state-society nexus. The College of Europe, however, is an elite European prep school, an open and multinational institution with its own road show where stundets learn, sleep and eat together in one ensemble. The intention is to make the CoE-alumni apt for collective action, to step in and make deals in the Europen institutions when things get off track or get stuck contrary to other bottom-up heavy universities. The College regularly act as a relay for policy-makers during the year of study both for its own sake to participate in the construction of Europe and, in order to socialize its alumni into their future roles and to underpin the esprit de corps of the fonctionnaires of the European institutions and the EU policy-making system. For a minority, this leads to conformism and even rhinoceritis. This has been sought rectified by a greater emphasis on critical thinking and rigoruos analysis, but this remedy only goes so far.

The College of Europe is not an agent of organisational transformation of existing structures let alone a tool for enhancement of the professional interests of mutually inseminated illyrian tribes.

Three possibilties: (1) A Joint Degree Program on South Eastern European Studies (2) The building of a campus with student residences covered by the Albanian government in return for which the College could contribute what it is able and willing to set aside (3) The financing of the Coe-South campus – building structures and student residences – by the EU and private funds in return for which the Albanian government pledges to build needed institutions in town and /or around the country such as business academies, universities, design schools, management schools, research institutes etc etc. No program should be launched before the physical and academic infrastructure is in place.

If the facilities are not the right ones and the salary structure not attractive enough, it becomes difficult to attract high quality academics, staffs and talents. The program must aim at hiring American, Serbs, Romanian, German, French,Italian, Scandinavian-Baltic and perhaps even a Turkish professor. You know who I think of. My support is otherwise as well premised on Coe-South, in time, encompass and attracts professor and students from the Black Sea and the Mediterranean in a happy osmosis. Can Tirana deliver ? Is the College of Europe interested in engaging in earnest ?

4. Strategic alliances

Alliance-making is a natural part of what educational institutions do such as the one the College have with the Fletcher School of Diplomacy. This should be extended notably to IDC-Herzeliya, which is a private university that offers a certificate in European studies. After all, Hendrik Brugmans, the founder and first rector of the College of Europe, was a converted jew. This is not an original sin nor is  it right. We need to repair the world, Tikkun Olam the Jews call it, and the best thing to do so is to reach out to the Israeli institution who has the greatest potential to emulate the College’s ethos in the Middle East. I might add, 25% of Israel’s population feel European, 25% Middle Eastern, 25% Jewish and 25% replies they don’t think they belong anywhere. Whose mistake is it if we can’t provide our Jewish brother sind sisters with a sense of belonging and identity ?

5.Eu-China Chair

As the EU-China Cai is ratified, it is nearby that a new sponsor is found for the EU-China Centre. In time, this should lead to the delegation of certain tasks to the CoE  Eu-China Centre for the promotion of EU Studies in China, an important challenge and responsibility. On-line education is also potentially big business these days.

Can you follow me ?

Ilce dixit