College of Europe

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Group.png College of Europe  
College of Europe logo.png
HeadquartersBruges, Belgium, Warsaw, Poland
TypePostgraduate institute
"An elite finishing school for aspiring Eurocrats".

The College of Europe (French: Collège d'Europe) is a postgraduate institute of European studies intended to create a cadre of future European leaders.[1]


Its main campus is in Bruges, Belgium and a smaller campus in Warsaw, Poland. The College of Europe in Bruges was founded in 1949, by leading historical European figures and founding fathers of the European Union, including Salvador de Madariaga, Winston Churchill, Paul-Henri Spaak and Alcide De Gasperi, to promote "a spirit of solidarity and mutual understanding between all the nations of Western Europe and to provide elite training to individuals who will uphold these values".

The College of Europe is historically linked to the establishment of the European Union and its predecessors, and to the creation of the European Movement, of which the college is a supporting member. Given the era in which it was founded (beginning of the Cold War), the founders connections (all at the time being closely aligned with US interests) and the connection to the CIA-funded European Movement, it is likely that this college secretly was a US effort.

Students are usually selected in cooperation with their countries' ministries of foreign affairs, and admission is highly competitive. The academic year is opened by a leading European politician. The College of Europe shares several traditions with the École nationale d'administration (ENA) of France, but has a more European focus.

According to The Times, the "College of Europe, in the medieval Belgian city of Bruges, is to the European political elite what the Harvard Business School is to American corporate life. It is a hothouse where the ambitious and talented go to make contacts".[2] The Economist describes it as "an elite finishing school for aspiring Eurocrats"[3]

The second campus in Natolin (Warsaw), Poland was opened in 1992.


Annual intakes are highly selective and student selection takes place in the Spring, usually in association with the foreign affairs ministries of their respective countries of origin. The offered academic programmes typically require a university degree in economics, law, political science or international relations plus advanced knowledge of the working languages of the college.

The one-year programme lasts from September until the end of June and is taught in English and French. It includes lectures, research seminars, workshops and meetings with external specialists and various language courses. To be awarded the degree, students must take oral and written examinations at the end of each semester, and submit a 15 ECTS master's thesis in English or French. The thesis gives students the opportunity to undertake individual research, conducted primarily in the second semester, under the supervision of a faculty member. The programmes are enriched by study trips to the European institutions and, for students at Natolin (Warsaw), also to neighbouring countries. Due to the college's extensive network of contacts, students have the opportunity to meet and discuss with policy-makers, practitioners and representatives of the business community throughout their year at the college.

From 1949 to the 1990s, students in Bruges enrolled in three programmes:

  • European Economic Studies (i.e., studies of international economics with an emphasis on the EU)
  • European Legal Studies (i.e., studies of European law)
  • European Political and Governance Studies (i.e., studies of political science and public administration focusing on the EU)

In recent years, other programmes have been created:

  • European International Relations and Diplomacy Studies

At Natolin (Warsaw) campus, the study programme European Interdisciplinary Studies offers four majors: EU Public Affairs and Policies, The EU in the World, The EU and its Neighbours and European History and Civilisation.

CIA recruitment activities

In the mid-1990s, CIA officer Valerie Plame was sent under cover to the College in order to recruit future European leaders. One student she had close contact with was Alexander Stubb, who later rose to Prime Minister of Finland.


Alumni on Wikispooks

Alberto Alemanno30 April 1975Italy
Clément Beaune14 August 1981FrancePoliticianEmmanuel Macron's "Monsieur Europe"
Nick Clegg7 January 1967PoliticianFormer British politician who was Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 2010 to 2015. Now works for Facebook
Luc Coene11 March 19475 January 2017BelgiumEconomist
Central banker
Belgian central banker
Louise Fréchette16 July 1946CanadaPoliticianCanadian politician who attended the 2000 Bilderberg as United Nations Deputy Secretary-General
Frans Alphons Maria Alting von Geusau26 June 1933NetherlandsDiplomat
A Dutch diplomat and scholar in international law. Von Geusau was also an advisor to the Dutch government from 1968 to 1998.
Josef Joffe15 March 1944SwitzerlandAcademic
Publisher-editor of Die Zeit
Stephen Kinnock1 January 1970UKMarried to the former Prime Minister of Denmark, Helle Thorning-Schmidt
Luis Garicano1967SpainAcademic
In March 2020, proposed a 500 billion euro "COVID-19 bazooka for jobs in Europe"
Roberta Metsola18 January 1979MaltaPoliticianMaltese MEP who was named a "reliable ally" of George Soros. She has been President of the European Parliament since January 2022.
Valerie Plame13 August 1963USSpook
Alexander Schallenberg20 June 1969AustriaDiplomat
'You don’t only have rights, you have obligations'
Margaritis Schinas28 July 1962GreecePoliticianGreek politician who attended the 2022 Bilderberg as Vice-President of the European Commission
Alyn Smith15 September 1973PoliticianScottish SNP politician. Member of Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China.
Alexander Stubb1 April 1968FinlandPoliticianFinnish top politician. At university, a CIA recruiter "put her claws into" him, and he kept his contact with agency people since then. He was selected a YGL 2009. Heavy WEF annual meeting habit. He attended the 2015 Bilderberg meeting.
Helle Thorning-Schmidt14 December 1966DenmarkWife of Labour MP for Aberavon, Stephen Kinnock
Erja Yläjärvi1977FinlandEditorFinnish Helsingin Sanomat chief editor.
Sinan ÜlgenTurkeyDiplomat
Deep state functionary
Turkish diplomat on the supranational think tank circuit
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