Leonardo Meeus is currently Deputy Director of the Florence School of Regulation (FSR) but on 1 October he will officially take over from Jean-Michel Glachant, current Director of the School and holder of the Loyola de Palacio Chair (LdP) on European Energy Regulation and Policy at the Robert Schuman Centre.
1. Leonardo, you are taking over an important heritage from your predecessor Jean-Michel Glachant. How will you tackle it?
Luckily, I will not be alone in taking over the heritage of Jean-Michel; we have a team of excellent colleagues and experts managing the School and the Chair. And we will have a smooth start because I already know the school. I was a researcher at the FSR when Jean-Michel started in 2008 and kept being involved as part-time professor after returning to Brussels. With ten years of experience in a business school, I am coming back with new ideas.
Moreover, even though he will no longer manage the school, Jean-Michel will stay with us as an expert with a special interest in our international activities beyond Europe. The founders of the school also continued to contribute to the school after they handed over the direction to Jean-Michel. We have a strong community that spans several generations, and it is now up to the new generation to live up to the high standards set by the previous generations.
2. What is your vision for the FSR and the LdP Chair for the coming years?
The mission of both the FSR and the LdP Chair is to develop and spread ideas that can improve policy and regulation in the sectors that we focus on. We try to combine the best of three worlds: A university research group, a think tank and an executive education institute. We believe in the importance of academic rigour as well as in the importance of interactions with professionals.
The FSR was founded by academics that became regulators at the start of the liberalisation process in the energy sector. After their first mandates as regulators, they created the School, which became the place to meet and exchange experiences across country borders. The FSR also started to cover sectors with regulation similar to the energy sector. They are referred to as network industries, such as telecom, transport, water and waste sectors.
The LdP Chair was created to reinforce the FSR with more academic research. They both also became increasingly active in the EU policy discussions. There is a lot of sector-specific EU legislation that frames the work of regulators. In more recent years, regulators and regulatory affairs experts are increasingly keeping track of general policy developments on topics such as innovation, security, sustainability, climate and digital because they interact with the sector-specific policies. The FSR also became more global because the rest of the world is increasingly interested in the European experience, and the School has always been open to learn from other experiences.
My vision is to preserve all that was achieved until today and invest in continuous improvement.
Preservation applies to the unique community of academics from different countries and disciplines, in combination with experts in regulatory authorities and European institutions. It also applies to the scope of activities from research to executive education and events; the LdP Chair and the professional staff that supports all these activities.
Continuous improvement applies to the organisation of the FSR. When Jean-Michel started the FSR was much smaller. He introduced many organisational changes, and we will continue this process. We also need to continue surprising our founders and stakeholders with new initiatives, but I am not going to ruin the surprise in my welcome interview. Many surprises will anyway come from the FSR team; they never stop innovating.
3. What is the role of the FSR regarding the global climate change challenges that we are facing today and will be facing more and more in the coming years?
The FSR might have been one of the first initiatives to focus on the global climate change challenges at the European University Institute (EUI), but we are not alone anymore.
There are many EUI colleagues contributing to the debate. Some are within the Schuman Centre, others are part of the School of Transnational Governance, and there are also professors and PhD students working on climate topics in the Departments. They often complement our sector-specific perspective with a more generalist approach. Together we can make better recommendations to policymakers and regulators.
As said earlier, there are also other policy developments that have a big impact on the sectors we cover, such as the policies on innovation, security, sustainability (which is broader than the topic of climate change), and digital. Also on these policy themes, I am looking forward to collaborate with the relevant experts at the EUI. The biggest challenge we have is to combine all these policies into something coherent.