THE SPEAKERS

Themis Christophidou


Director-General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture

Themis Christophidou is the Director-General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture of the European Commission, since March 2018. She is a civil engineer with 35 years of experience in private and public sector management.

After having worked in the private sector for 15 years, she joined the European Commission in 2001 and held various positions, including in the Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy, as Head of Cabinet of the Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries and as Head of Cabinet of the Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management.

Themis Christophidou is an alumna of the civil engineering faculty of the Metsovio Polytechnic University of Athens, specialised in transport infrastructure and urban transport. Born in Famagusta, Cyprus, she is trilingual Greek, French, English.

Prof. Muhammad Yunus


Founder of Grameen Bank and Nobel Peace Prize Winner 2006

Prof. Muhammad Yunus is a Bangladeshi social entrepreneur, banker, economist, and civil society leader who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for founding the Grameen Bank and pioneering the concepts of microcredit and microfinance.

In 1972, following studies in Bangladesh and the USA, Yunus was appointed professor of economics at the University of Chittagong. When Bangladesh suffered a famine in 1974, he felt that he had to do something more for the poor beyond simply teaching. He decided to give long-term loans to people who wanted to start their own small enterprises. This initiative was extended on a larger scale through Grameen Bank. Grameen Bank's objective since its establishment in 1983 has been to grant poor people small loans on easy terms - so-called micro-credit - and Yunus was the bank's founder.

Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2006 for their work to "create economic and social development from below". Today, Grameen is present in 36,000 villages in Bangladesh as well as in fifty-seven countries around the world and has more than two million customers.

Sophie Beernaerts


Head of Department Erasmus+ and EU Aid Volunteers-EACEA

Sophie Beernaerts is the Head of the Department Erasmus+ and EU Aid Volunteers in the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency. 

Before that, she has been in charge of the Coordination of the Erasmus+ programme in the European Commission, of the management of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions that provide grants for all stages of researchers' careers and has been responsible for supporting school education policy development in the EU Member states. 

She graduated from Solvay Business School and holds a postgraduate in European economics from the University of Brussels.

Ralf Rahders


Head of Unit, EACEA

Since 1994 at the European Commission in different positions at DG Research and DG EAC.

Joint EACEA in 2004 as Head of Unit and is responsible since 2015 for the Capacity Building in Higher Education (CBHE) action.

Carla Giulietti


EACEA

Born in Italy, she graduated in Contemporary History at Bologna University (IT) and specialized in European Studies at the ‘Université Libre de Bruxelles’ (BE). In 2007, she got a Master Degree in International Relations discussing a thesis on the African Union.

After spending the first two decades of her professional life teaching in different countries (Italy, Belgium, Ethiopia), since 2007 she has been working for the Education, Culture and Audiovisual Executive Agency (EACEA) of the European Commission. 

Since the creation of the Erasmus+ Programme, she deals with the action ‘Capacity Building for Higher Education’ (CBHE) and, in particular, with selection and management of projects in the South Mediterranean region.

Eva Valle Casanova


EACEA

Born in Spain, she got a Master Degree in Political Sciences and International Relations at the University of Louvain-la-Neuve (Belgium) and specialized in International Humanitarian Aid. She worked for many years as Project coordinator in NGOs dealing with development cooperation in Spain and Belgium.

In 2007 she worked for the Tempus Programme at the European Training Foundation of the European Commission in Turin (Italy) and since 2009 she has been working at the Education, Culture and Audiovisual Executive Agency (EACEA) of the European Commission in Brussels where she deals with the “Capacity Building for Higher Education” (CBHE) action of the Erasmus+ Programme.

She was first responsible for managing the projects implemented in the Maghreb countries, Israel and Palestine and since 2015 she deals with the projects implemented in the Latin American region.

Paivi Hernesniemi


EACEA

Born in Finland, she got a Master Degree in Political Sciences and International Law at the Abo Akademi University (Finland) and specialized on the human rights of the minorities. She worked for human rights research until starting 2001 to work for the Culture Progamme in the European Commission.

Since 2016 she has been working at the Education, Culture and Audiovisual Executive Agency (EACEA) of the European Commission in Brussels where she deals with the “Capacity Building for Higher Education” (CBHE) action of the Erasmus+ Programme. She is responsible for the Regions of  South Africa, and African, Caribbean and Pacific countries.

Anila Troshani


EACEA

Anila Troshani is Head of Monitoring sector in the International Capacity Building Unit of the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency.

She is working for the European educational programmes since 1996 and has joined the Agency in 2006. In the Agency she has managed a number of Actions such as Erasmus Mundus, Intra-ACP programme, Policy experimentation, Forward looking projects and Capacity Building in Higher Education.

She graduated as geophysical engineer in the Polytechnic University of Tirana and has also a degree on education sciences obtained at the Catholic University of Milan.

Fanny Serée


DG NEAR

Fanny Serée works in DG NEAR,  in the Centre for thematic expertise on economic development (unit A3) covering for the three NEAR regions (enlargement, neighbourhood south and east) education including Erasmus+, employment, social policies and youth.

Anton Jensen


I started in the Commission 22 years ago in what now is DG EAC, working on Erasmus. I have subsequently worked in development cooperation, currently in DG INTernationPArtnerships (INTPA). I was part of setting up the Global Partnership. The last 10 years I have worked on West Africa (Nigeria, The Gambia, Liberia and Sierra Leone the latter two during the West Africa Ebola epidemic). Since the autumn I have worked on ERASMUS+, coordinating content from an EU external perspective.