Huge demand for jean Monnet project courses in applicant states

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Series Details Vol.7, No.39, 25.10.01, p20
Publication Date 25/10/2001
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Date: 25/10/01

By Simon Coss

PERHAPS not surprisingly there is currently an enormous demand for EU studies courses in the applicant countries that are now lining up to join the Union. According to officials working for the European Commission's Jean Monnet project, which promotes European integration around the world, students in the applicant states are desperate to learn about how the Union works. "In a way we back courses that teach the acquis, so it is normal that the demand is so high," says senior Jean

Monnet coordinator Belén Bernaldo de Quiros, referring to the acquis communautaire, or the entire body of EU law. Last year the Commission decided to cease the funding of new EU studies courses inside the Union. Instead, it adopted to devote nearly all of the money available under the Jean Monnet scheme to supporting EU studies teaching in the 12 applicant states of Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Cyprus and Malta.

The decision brought a deluge of requests for Jean Monnet support. "We received 352 applications from these countries and they were all of an extremely high quality," says Bernaldo de Quiros, "but, unfortunately, we only had the resources to support 100 of the projects. "The Jean Monnet coordinator also insists that, while there is some funding available for universities approved by her scheme, money is not the main reason her office receives so many requests for support."Frankly, the funding is a token more than anything else," she says. Universities awarded a

Jean Monnet chair, for example, receive a maximum of €8,000 in return for a commitment to teach EU studies for at least seven years. "The Jean Monnet scheme is really a label which says this institution offers some of the best EU integration teaching available," she adds.

The project certainly seems to be popular. Since it was first set up in 1990 the programme has backed the creation of 2,319 new university teaching posts devoted solely to European integration issues within the existing EU. But the scheme is not without its critics. Some analysts say the Jean Monnet programme represents a dangerous move by the Commission to spread pro-EU propaganda among the Union's impressionable students.

For example, a recent article by a right-wing French research institute, the Observatoire Universitaire Jean Bodin, described the programme as a "trojan horse in the French university system". Bernaldo de Quiros hotly contests such criticisms and argues that a committee of independent academic experts, and not the Commission itself, suggests the programmes that should be approved by the Jean Monnet scheme.

The coordinator also points out that her office regularly backs courses run by known eurosceptics. "Certainly we want to encourage debate around the question of European integration. But how the lecturers approach the subject is their business," she says.

There is currently an enormous demand for EU studies courses in the applicant countries that are now lining up to join the Union. Article forms part of a supplement on European studies.

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