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The College of Europe will open a campus in Tirana
The opening of the College of Europe in Albania is another crucial step connecting Albania permanently with the West, a strategic investment in education and European Integration, says Albert Rakipi, President of the Albanian Institute of International Studies.
Suppose Albania and the region needed a sign that the European Union was still serious about its expansion in the Western Balkans. In that case, this sign has come uniquely: the College of Europe, an elite institution, one of the fundamental institutions of the idea of the European Union, will open the campus in Tirana. After a lobbying campaign by the Albanian Government, the European Union has announced that funds have been allocated for the project, and the campus will open in Tirana in September 2023.
The rector of the College of Europe, Federica Mogherini, who is in Tirana to see closely the preparations for the opening of the College, signed with the Minister of Education Evis Kushi a memorandum of cooperation that makes Albania a member of the Administrative Council of the College of Europe. Albania thus becomes the first country out of all the aspiring countries to integrate into the EU that will have a voice in the governance of the College of Europe.
It will have a significant impact on the future of Albania
The first step for the idea of the College of Europe in Tirana was taken at the summit of the EU and the Balkan countries in Tirana on December 6 of last year.
International relations experts interpret this action as an attempt by the "block" to strengthen its power in an important strategic area. Still, the impact on Albania itself will also be significant and historic.
The College of Europe currently has two campuses, one in Belgium and one in Poland, and the opening of a third campus in Tirana is "extraordinary and historic" because it is another step in Albania's permanent connection with the West, said Albert Rakipi. , the president of the Albanian Institute for International Studies (AIIS). "Bringing the College of Europe to Tirana means bringing the first Western post-university institution since the creation of the modern state of Albania. It is the biggest development in education in the last 100 years. It will have the same impact on Albanian history as the French Lyceum before the Second World War in Korça and the American School of Harry Fultz in Tirana."
Dr. Rakipi added that besides bringing a center of excellence to Albania, the College of Europe in Tirana would also impact EU citizens' perceptions of Albania, as more researchers and students from different backgrounds will attend classes and research in Albania.
"This is great for Albania and its European future. It is a historic achievement. AIIS has been involved since the beginning of the idea to bring the College of Europe campus to Albania and is happy to see the efforts that made the vision a reality ".
This a sign of the EU's attention to the region
The College of Europe is headquartered in Bruges, Belgium, and has a second campus in Warsaw, Poland.
The Albanian Government proposed to host a third campus during the EU-Western Balkans Summit in December 2022 in Tirana. This proposal was supported in principle by the EU's top leaders.
The Tirana campus will be a regional center of EU learning, but at the same time, it will also attract students from all over the continent.
"I am very proud to declare we have also discussed it with the College of Europe; I hope that they will also confirm that we will be able to start the admissions process in September of this year," - said the EU Enlargement Commissioner, Oliver Varhelyi in a recent press conference, adding that all that is needed now is a building. In this beautiful place, the College can be located.
The Albanian Government has promised to provide a visible space for the campus in Tirana but has not yet revealed its location.
About the College of Europe
The College of Europe is the world's first university institute of postgraduate study and training in European affairs. Founded in 1949 by the leading European figure in the wake of the Hague Congress, it led to the creation of the European Movement. Its original campus is in Bruges, Belgium. A second college campus in Natolin (Warsaw), Poland, was established in 1992, before Poland's accession negotiations with the EU.
Tirana will soon host the venerable institution's third campus in the Western Balkans, hoping to bring the same vision it had in the late 40s to Western Europe and the early 90s to Eastern Europe.
According to a ranking by POLITICO, the College of Europe boasts the most significant number of graduates serving as civil servants in the EU. Notable alums include current commissioner Margaritīs Schinas, former prime ministers Helle Thorning-Schmidt of Denmark, and Alexander Stubb of Finland.
University funding is derived from various sources, including the EU and various national governments.
Albania's EU integration process is moving forward, but at a much slower pace than previous Eastern European accessions, causing growing frustration.
Albania applied for EU membership in April 2009 and was granted EU candidate status in June 2014. The EU held the first intergovernmental conference with Albania in July 2022, and Albania-EU negotiations for full membership are ongoing. The process will likely take many years to complete with no set timeline.