The Institute for European Studies

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Group.png The Institute for European Studies FacebookRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
Parent organizationFree University of Brussels
HeadquartersBrussels, Belgium

The Institute for European Studies is a part of the Free University of Brussels. The Institute for European Studies is mentioned several times in the Integrity Initiative leaks, and is probably one of the central nodes in this state-sponsored propaganda network.

About the IES

IES' own presentation[1]: The Institute for European Studies (IES) at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) is an academic Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence and a policy think tank that focuses on the European Union in an international setting. The Institute advances academic education and research in various disciplines, and provides services to policy-makers, scholars, stakeholders and the general public.

The IES specifically explores EU institutions, policies and law within the context of globalization and global governance, including a focus on the EU in international affairs and institutions. The disciplines applied at the IES include law, social/political sciences, economics and communication sciences, and the Institute’s activities focus on the various ways in which institutions, law and politics intersect with each other in the EU, its member states and at the international level.

Academic work at the IES is organised in clusters, but is also pursued through horizontal activities cutting across them. As of 2019, there we five clusters:

  • International Security
  • Environment and sustainable development
  • Migration, diversity and justice
  • European economic governance
  • Educational Development

The Institute for European Studies as Integrity Initiative's De Facto Brussels Cluster

The IES uses the term 'clusters' for its study groups. This fairly uncommon term is also used by the Integrity Initiative in its internal documents to describe its national cells.

In Document:Progress report on establishing national clusters, IES is described as "Our main institutional partner since the inception of the programme in 2015...In addition to providing our crucial academic base, giving us increased authority and credibility through its rigorous research, teaching programme, conferences and high quality policy papers, the VUB-IES acts as the de facto Brussels cluster. Its work has established the study of disinformation and malign influence internationally as an accepted, legitimate subject of academic study. Through VUB-IES the Integrity Initiative is firmly linked into the EU East Stratcom Taskforce, the EU Disinfo Lab and the European Parliament. The VUB-IES also supports our programme’s collaboration with HQ NATO, NATO’s International Confederation Reserve Officers (CIOR), the Atlantic Treaty Association and the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. These international organisations support the programme, especially by facilitating the distribution of material and providing access to influential individuals. The VUB-IES also provides a valuable direct link for our programme with major national think tanks such as Egmont, Chatham House, Clingendael etc.

The Institute for European Studies in Integrity Initiative documents

The IES is mentioned in the document "Integrity Initiative Activity Budget April 2018 - March 2019" point B, including "Activity B02" and "Activity B03":

Point B

"Sponsoring including via the Free University of Brussels (VUB IES) - (thereby enhancing academic respectability of the topic)- advanced research, publications, workshops, educational courses, mentoring, lectures"

Activity B02:VUB IES: Commission research and educational project"

OUTPUT 9 x Research paths: From Disinformation to Political Warfare

OUTCOME Establishing the academic credibility of the topic internationally; influences EU member states via material sent directly to the EEAS and EU Stratcom Taskforce; provides the academic basis for the whole Integrity Initiative programme and makes the programme attractive to journalists and politicians by demonstrating its accuracy and reliability.


The VUB team will be called upon to advise and educate influential people interested in this scheme more rapidly. [1]

Activity B03: VUB IES: Outreach with Policy-makers, Academics and the General Public


Political warfare working meetings with EU Officials, Political warfare workshops, Information Literacy Course, Political Warfare Network, 'Information Warfare and Security' Modules


The RU disinformation and influence issue will no longer be ignored or belittled.


National think tanks (e.g. SWB Berlin, IFRI France, Clingendael NL) launch their own programmes on disinformation and malign influence. [2]

Institute for Statecraft Production timetable March-June 2016

VUB is mentioned several times in the Document:Institute for Statecraft Production timetable March-June 2016, where it held seminars, conferences etc:

  • 18 March 2016 VUB: Confuse, divide and rule; How Russia drives Europe apart. Dr Sibren De Jong
  • 22-29 March VUB: - Western European narratives about Baltic military weakness. Dr. Andriy Tyushka, Baltic Defence College. - Political warfare and disinformation in the context of EU-Russia relations; James Rogers, Dean of the Baltic Defence College. - How Western Europeans talk about the Minsk agreements, their shortcomings and the future of Ukraine's place in Europe. Dr. Svitlana Kobzar, RAND Europe/Vesalius College. (in editorial preparation)
  • 15 April (approx) VUB: Russian influence, James Sherr - 1500 words
  • 11 May: VUB/IES EU Conference, Brussels; (a) panel on Russia, the far right and far left, Brussels; (b) Conference panel on Russian fake media, mid-May time frame: Report on Russian trolls and far-right ties, Jessikka Aro mid-May time frame: Predicting Putin, study of Russian strategic narrative and policy implications, Atlantic Council policy brief, Ben Nimmo

People working in IES also mentioned in the Integrity Initiative leaks