№ 350/2009 from Dec 02, 2009
Freie Universität Berlin is the first German university to open an EU Liaison office in Brussels. It is the university’s fifth office abroad, following those in New York, Moscow, Beijing, and New Delhi. By 2010 others are planned in Egypt and Brazil. The offices are part of the development concept "International Network University" that was Freie Universität’s institutional strategy awarded funding in the German federal and state Excellence Initiative. The major responsibilities of the Liaison Office in Brussels include assisting researchers of Freie Universität in attracting research funds from European institutions and supporting transnational cooperation. Charlotte Fiala is the head of the new Brussels office.
The president of Freie Universität, Professor Dieter Lenzen, said the opening of the Brussels office signifies another milestone in the worldwide networking of the university. According to Lenzen, the new liaison office in the heart of the European Union opens up many new possibilities for exchanges with scientists and scholars from other member states.
The Deputy Director General of the Directorate General for Research of the European Commission, Wolfgang Burtscher, congratulated Freie Universität on its decision to be present in the Belgian capital. At the opening festivities, attended by about 100 representatives of national and European institutions in Brussels, Burtscher emphasized that for meeting global challenges such as coping with the consequences of climate change, the transnational collaboration of scientists is becoming increasingly important. With its liaison offices Freie Universität is a pioneer for such collaboration and an example for other universities. Burtscher added that the objective of the European Commission of creating a European Research Area could only be achieved if, in addition to the EU institutions and member states, universities also worked toward this goal.
Professor Jochen Schiller, Vice President of Freie Universität, emphasized that the university will help to make the project of a European Research Area a reality. The director of Dahlem Humanities Center, Professor Joachim Küpper, added that Freie Universität aims to expand international cooperation in the humanities. The Director of the Center for European Integration at Freie Universität, Professor Tanja Börzel, stressed that the European Union is significant not only as a source of funding – as the EU itself is an important research subject, its institutions have benefited from the research results. Professor Wolfgang Mackiewicz, an expert in the language policy of the European Union and Director of the Language Center of Freie Universität Berlin, drew attention to the fact that the opening of the Brussels office coincides with the enactment of the Lisbon Treaty that will also strengthen the position of research in the EU.
The head of the EU Liaison Office, Charlotte Fiala, studied political science at Freie Universität Berlin and Development Studies at Oxford University.
The EU Liaison Office in Brussels also aims to foster the creation of a Brussels alumni club of Freie Universität and to make the expertise of researchers of Freie Universität available to the institutions of the European Union.