College of Europe

College of Europe
College of Europe
Collège d'Europe
College of Europe logo
Established 1949 (1949)
Type Postgraduate institute
Rector Prof. Paul Demaret
Academic staff 140
Students 420 postgraduates from over 50 countries
Location Bruges, Belgium and Natolin (Warsaw), Poland
Campus Residential
Working languages English and French

The College of Europe (Collège d'Europe in French) is an independent university institute of postgraduate European studies with the main campus in Bruges, Belgium. Since 1993 the college has also had an additional campus in Natolin, Poland focusing on Eastern Europe.

The College of Europe in Belgium 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 in 1948. The goal of the College was described as promoting "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"[1] and "to train an elite of young executives for Europe".[2] It has the status of "Institution of Public Interest" operating according to Belgian Law.

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".[3] The Economist describes it as "an elite finishing school for aspiring Eurocrats."[4] 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."[5] European Commissioner for Education Ján Figeľ described the college as "one of the most emblematic centres of European studies in the European Union".[6] The college has also been described as "the leading place to study European affairs"[7] and as "the elite training center for the European Union's political class".[8] RFE/RL has referred to the college as "a Euro-federalist hot-spot."[9] The College of Europe is bilingual, and students must be proficient in English and French. Students receive a master's degree (formerly called Diploma and Certificat) following a one-year programme. Traditionally, students specialize 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. Admission is highly competitive. The number of students each year used to be quite low (less than 100 until the early 1970s and typically slightly above 100 until the mid 1980s), but has increased since the early 1990s. Students are usually selected in cooperation with their countries' ministries of foreign affairs.

The College of Europe in Belgium shares several traditions with, and is often compared to, the École nationale d'administration (ENA) of France,[10] but has a vastly more international profile.



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 in 1948.

Its origins date back to the Hague Congress in 1948 when Salvador de Madariaga, a Spanish statesman, thinker and writer in exile, proposed the establishment of a College where university graduates from many different countries could study and live together.

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 of the time, 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’.

In 1998, former students of the College set up the Madariaga European Foundation.

The number of enrolled students has increased significantly since the 1990s.


Admission to the College of Europe is highly competitive, and was even more so before the 1990s. 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.[11] There are currently 28 national selection committees.[12]


Bruges campus

The College of Europe campus "Dijver" in Bruges
The College of Europe campus "Verversdijk" in Bruges

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 Flemish (Dutch)-speaking area, although the university 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 facade 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.

Natolin (Warsaw) campus

Potocki Palace in Natolin

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 eastern 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 30 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.

Academic programmes

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:

  • European International Relations and Diplomacy Studies.

At Natolin (Warsaw) campus, the study programme analyses the process of European integration with a focus on Eastern Europe from an interdisciplinary perspective:

  • European Interdisciplinary Studies: the internal and external dimensions of the European Union.

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.

Degrees awarded

  1. Master in European Law (LLM)
  2. Master of Arts in European Economic Studies
  3. Master of Arts in European Political and Administrative Studies
  4. Master of Arts in EU International Relations and Diplomacy Studies
  5. Master of Arts in European Interdisciplinary Studies

To be awarded the current Master's degree, students must take oral and written examinations at the end of each semester, and submit a 15 ECTS (i.e. the equivalent of a quarter of an academic year) Master's Thesis in English or French.

Until the 1980s, the College only awarded its students the qualification Certificate of Advanced European Studies (the programme also then included several shorter theses), that was considered equivalent to a master's degree (although it was not a degree in the strictest sense, as the College of Europe was inspired by the tradition of French elite schools such as ENA which did not award formal degrees). The qualification, with specialization in either (European) Law, (international) Economics, or Political and Administrative Studies, corresponded to the first three master's degrees that are awarded today.

The College introduced a voluntary Diploma in the late 1980s and the Master's degree in the early 1990s. Initially the Master's degree was awarded as an autonomous, additional degree to students having obtained a high average mark (above 15/20) in their "Certificate" or "Diploma" and successfully completing a Master's thesis in the year following graduation. In the mid-1990s, the College of Europe decided to require all students to write a short Master's thesis as a requirement of its 1-year programme, and the Master's degree became the only degree issued. The old Certificate of Advanced European Studies and the newer Master's degrees are considered equivalent.

Governing bodies

  • Administrative Council

The Administrative Council, presided by Mr Íñigo Méndez de Vigo, 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

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 Paul Demaret 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

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.

Rectors of the College of Europe

The Rector directs and coordinates the College’s activities.

Vice Rectors (Natolin (Warsaw) campus)

The Vice-Rector is responsible for the day-today administration of the Natolin (Warsaw) campus.

Presidents of the Administrative Council of the College of Europe


Nick Clegg (Mozart Promotion)
Helle Thorning-Schmidt (Charles IV Promotion)
Valerie Plame (Scholl Promotion)
Ursula Plassnik, former Foreign Minister of Austria
Manuel Marín, President of the European Commission

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 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.[13]

List of promotions
Year Name of promotion (Patron) Students Speaker at opening ceremony (Orateur) Notable alumni
2011–2012 Marie Sklodowska-Curie - Giorgio Napolitano (Bruges)& José Manuel Barroso (Natolin)
2010–2011 Albert Einstein 434 Angela Merkel (Bruges) & Štefan Füle (Natolin)
2009–2010 Charles Darwin 402 Jerzy Buzek (Bruges) & Toomas Hendrik Ilves (Natolin)
2008–2009 Marcus Aurelius 376 Yves Leterme (Bruges) & Hans-Gert Pöttering (Natolin)
2007–2008 Anna Politkovskaya & Hrant Dink 415 David Miliband (Bruges) & Carl Bildt (Natolin)
2006–2007 Nicolaus Copernicus 418 Jean-Claude Juncker (Bruges) & Alaksandar Milinkievič (Natolin)
2005–2006 Ludwig van Beethoven 385 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 Antonio Guterres (Bruges) & Ursula Stenzel (Natolin)
1996–1997 Alexis de Tocqueville 319 Wim Kok (Bruges) & Aleksander Kwasniewski (Natolin)
1995–1996 Walter Hallstein 306 Klaus Hänsch (Bruges) & Jacques Santer (Natolin)
1994–1995 Ramon Llull 296 Juan Carlos I of Spain (Bruges) & Andrzej Olechowski (Natolin) Alexander Stubb
1993–1994 Stefan Zweig 263 Thomas Klestil
1992–1993 Charles IV 264 Jacques Santer Helle Thorning-Schmidt, Stephen Kinnock
1991–1992 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart 212 Flavio Cotti Nick Clegg
1990–1991 Hans & Sophie Scholl 145 Richard von Weizsäcker Valerie Plame
1989–1990 Denis de Rougemont 200 Jacques Delors
1988–1989 Christopher Dawson 204 Margaret Thatcher
1987–1988 Altiero Spinelli 178 François Mitterrand
1986–1987 William Penn 177 Ruud Lubbers
1985–1986 Christopher Columbus 158 Felipe Gonzalez
1984–1985 Madame de Staël 123 Altiero Spinelli
1983–1984 Jean Rey 133 Garret FitzGerald
1982–1983 Joseph Bech 122 Gaston Thorn
1981–1982 Johan Willem Beyen 123 Bruno Kreisky Xavier Prats Monné, Mary O'Rourke
1980–1981 Jean Monnet 131 Simone Veil
1979–1980 Salvador de Madariaga 140 Dries van Agt
1978–1979 Paul-Henri Spaak 130 Guy Spitaels
1977–1978 Karl Renner 128 Mario Soares Louise Fréchette
1976–1977 Peter Paul Rubens 120 Leo Tindemans
1975–1976 Adam Jerzy Czartoryski 101 Edgar Faure
1974–1975 Aristide Briand 111 Herman De Croo
1973–1974 Giuseppe Mazzini 92 Karl Otto Pöhl
1972–1973 Richard N. Coudenhove-Kalergi 59 George Brown, Baron George-Brown Jo Leinen
1971–1972 Dante Alighieri 58 Altiero Spinelli & Hendrik Brugmans
1970–1971 Winston Churchill 57 Jean Rey & Hendrik Brugmans Luc Coene
1969–1970 William II of Orange 49 Prince Albert of Belgium & Hendrik Brugmans
1968–1969 Konrad Adenauer 47 Robert van Schendel & Hendrik Brugmans
1967–1968 Comenius 54 Alfons de Vreese Nuala Mole
1966–1967 George C. Marshall 56 Jean Rey & Hendrik Brugmans 
1965–1966 Thomas More 52 Hendrik Brugmans Adrien Zeller
1964–1965 Robert Schuman 45 Salvador de Madariaga & Hendrik Brugmans
1963–1964 Thomas Paine 48 Hendrik Brugmans
1962–1963 August Vermeylen 46 Pierre Harmel & Hendrik Brugmans 
1961–1962 Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz 37 Hugo Geiger & Hendrik Brugmans
1960–1961 Saint-Simon 38 Hendrik Brugmans 
1959–1960 Sully 43 Hendrik Brugmans
1958–1959 Fridtjof Nansen 40 Hendrik Brugmans
1957–1958 Henry the Navigator 40 Hendrik Brugmans
1956–1957 Raoul Dautry 36 Hendrik Brugmans
1955–1956 Virgil 33 Hendrik Brugmans Francesco Paolo Fulci
1954–1955 Alcide De Gasperi 36 Hendrik Brugmans
1953–1954 Erasmus 39 Hendrik Brugmans
1952–1953 Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk 40 Hendrik Brugmans
1951–1952 Juan Vives 30 Hendrik Brugmans
1950–1951 Antoine de Saint-Exupéry 35 Hendrik Brugmans
1949 Préparatoire (no name) 22 J. van Hoestenberghe & Salvador de Madariaga

Professors taught at College of Europe

Research and development

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.


Also, 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[who?] from the European institutions and national administrations have attended tailor-made training programmes.


  • Karel VERLEYE, De stichting van het Europacollege te Brugge, Stichting Ryckevelde, 1989.
  • The College of Europe. Fifty years of service to Europe, College of Europe publications, Brugge, 2001.
  • Paul DEMARET, Inge GOVAERE & Dominique HANF (eds), Dynamiques juridiques européennes. Edition revue et mise à jour de 30 ans d'études juridiques européennes au Collège d'Europe, Cahiers du Collège d'Europe, P. I. E. Peter Lang, Brussel, 2007.

See also


  1. ^ "Le rôle du Collège d'Europe" [The role of the College of Europe], Journal de Bruges et de la Province, 7 October 1950, Vol. 114, No. 78, p. 1
  2. ^ Henri Brugmans, "Former des cadres pour l'Europe" [Training executives for Europe], Fédération, January 1950, No. 60, pp. 42–44
  3. ^ Jonathan Oliver (2010-04-25). "Which way will Nick Clegg turn?". The Times. Archived from the original on 2010-04-20. Retrieved 2011-09-17. 
  4. ^ "Charlemagne: Free the Strasbourg 626". The Economist. 2004-02-05. Retrieved 2011-09-17. 
  5. ^ Tony Barber (2010-04-20). "Europe in joyous disbelief over Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems". Financial Times. Archived from the original on 2010-04-20. Retrieved 2011-09-17. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ Nicholas Hirst (October 18, 2011). "The Bruges mafia". Flanders Today. Archived from the original on 2010-10-26. Retrieved 2010-10-26. 
  8. ^ Richard Orange (September 23, 2011). "Meet 'Gucci Helle,' slated to be Denmark’s first female prime minister". GlobalPost. Archived from the original on 2010-10-26. Retrieved 2010-10-26. 
  9. ^ Rikard Jozwiak (October 28, 2011). "Training The 'New Europeans' -- The College Of Europe Breeds The EU Elite". RFE/RL. Retrieved October 28, 2011. 
  10. ^ Tim Soutphommasane (19 November 2011). "Government by nerds one step from tyranny". The Australian. Retrieved 20 November 2011. "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." 
  11. ^ "College of Europe - Admission - Academic requirements". Retrieved 2011-09-17. 
  12. ^ "College of Europe - Admission - Selection Committees". Retrieved 2011-09-17. 
  13. ^ "College of Europe - College of Europe - History - Opening ceremonies". Retrieved 2011-09-17. 
  14. ^ Chairholder for Geopolitics at the College of Europe
  15. ^ Chair of European Civilisation at the College of Europe
  16. ^ Leszek Balcerowicz at the College of Europe
  17. ^ Andrea Biondi at King's College London
  18. ^ Aleš Debeljak web page
  19. ^ Alyson Bailes at College of Europe
  20. ^ Valentine Korah at University College London
  21. ^ Jacques Rupnik at Institut d'Études Politiques de Paris
  22. ^ Stefan Collignon web page

External links

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