Interview, Jesús BALLESTEROS, Director of the College of Europe Development Office

For this edition of the newsletter, we speak with Mr Jesús Ballesteros, director of the College of Europe Development Office. We look back together at the year 2016 and discuss about the opportunities ahead in 2017. He uses the opportunity to wish joy and success for the New Year.

What is the Development Office and when was it created?

The College was created with a mission and a purpose: to contribute to the European integration process through the means of education. However the goal of the College does not stop with the Master’s programmes (our core activity), it goes beyond and continues by providing professional training and consultancy services on EU affairs. To do so, the College of Europe Development Office was created and institutionalised as an office of the College 20 years ago, in 1996. Since then we have developed and managed its professional services, projects and partnerships – being the link between the College and the public and private sectors.

Which are its main activities and how do they relate to the College of Europe Academic Departments?

Our portfolio includes both executive training on EU affairs (basically covering all the areas and subject matters part of our five Master’s programmes) and consultancy services (including service contracts and academic and research projects).

The bond between the Development Office and the Academic Departments of the College is very strong since we rely on them to conceptualise and implement our activities, counting not only on their staff based in Bruges but also on our ‘Flying Faculty’ (more than 180 visiting professors coming from all sectors and backgrounds) in charge of delivering the tailored and highly professional oriented Master’s programmes. On top of this, the Development Office counts also on the extensive Alumni network and its Alumni Association (more than 12,000 professionals) who contribute as experts to the Office’s activities. We consider this bond a privilege and the added value of what we offer. Furthermore, the Master’s programmes are also the inspiration of our Executive Education courses, 12 in total; in fact, we offer advanced courses on EU Affairs, promoting the exchange between the participants and the lecturers and professionals, all hosted in the city of Bruges.

Which were the main new activities in 2016 and which are the new areas to explore in 2017?

As I mentioned before, this year is our 20th anniversary and we wanted to celebrate it by organising new and challenging Executive Education courses, adding to our training catalogue four new programmes, namely on: Migration, EU Economic Governance, Monitoring and Evaluation, and the Energy Union.

In terms of consultancy activities, we had the opportunity of enlarging and/or starting our cooperation in new areas with the Council of Europe, European Commission - DG Connect, the Gulf Cooperation Council, the Government of Turkey and the EEAS in areas such as human rights, project management, trade matters and intellectual property rights among others.

This year has been very intense and challenging as well as very rewarding professionally speaking. 2017 presents itself no less challenging and full of opportunities. In terms of new activities, we are working to increase our contribution to the private sector, to explore new areas of expertise and actively to participate in Horizon 2020 initiatives. We will keep you posted!

How many people are part of the College of Europe Development Office team? 

Well, I have to say that every day the strength, the motivation and the enthusiasm shown by the team amazes me. We are an international team of 14 people from different backgrounds; all very different but with one thing in common: the commitment that we all have to this institution and the belief that we are doing something right by contributing to the worldwide understanding of the EU integration process.

As the holiday season approaches, I would like to take this opportunity to thank my team and all of you for your continued support and partnership.

May your holiday season and the New Year be filled with much joy, happiness and success. I look forward to working with you in the coming year.

Happy holidays!