Skip to main content

The Jean Monnet Chair holder, advisory panel and associates




The purpose of the panel is to advise the Jean Monnet Chair holder on the implementation of the project. Its members have been chosen on the basis of their expertise and will act in their personal capacity. 


  • lalis
  • Georgette Lalis has a degree in law from the Law School of the University of Athens and a DEA de droit européen from the University of Strasbourg. She worked for the European Commission from 1981 until her retirement in December 2016. Within the European Commission, she has held various positions as a member of commissioner’s cabinet as well as a director notably in the fields of maritime transport, consumer goods (automotive, pharmaceutical, cosmetics, food and biotech industries), innovation and energy. 
  • From September 2011 to September 2015, she was head of the Athens office of the European Commission’s Task Force for Greece (the institution that the European Commission created to manage the technical assistance provided by the EU to the Greek authorities) and she subsequently spent a year as a fellow in European Studies at New York University. Georgette Lalis was the President and for a year also the Chief Executive Officer of Ktimatologio AE, the Greek state company establishing the country’s Land Registry (December 2001 - June 2004). She is a senior policy advisor with the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy.


  • maria-russo
  • Maria Cristina Russo is Director for International Cooperation in the European Commission’s DG Research and Innovation with responsibility for developing and implementing the EU’s international strategy for international cooperation in research and innovation and the international dimension of the Horizon programme. She has been working for the European Commission since 1992 where she has held several policy and managerial positions related to external relations, the EU decision-making process and various EU policies, in particular research and innovation. 
  • She was part of the team dealing with technical assistance to former Soviet Union, then member of the Cabinet of the Commissioner in charge of research policy when the European Research Area was launched. She was later appointed Head of Unit in the Secretariat-General of the European Commission holding different positions dealing with interinstitutional relations and policy making, and in the department in charge of consumers' policies and financial services, before being appointed to her current position in 2013. Maria Cristina holds a degree in Political Sciences from the Luiss University of Rome and a Research Master Degree in European Studies from the College of Europe in Bruges. She has three children.


  • ponzano
  • Paolo Ponzano is Senior Fellow at the European University Institute’s Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies. In 2013 he was bestowed with the title of Chevalier in the French National Order of the Legion of Honour, the highest honour in France, for his 38 years of service as an official at the European Commission in Brussels. He obtained a degree in political science degree in 1967. From 1969 to 1970, he worked as both a university assistant in International Law and as a member of the International Affairs Institute in Rome. Then, from 1971 to 2009, Ponzano served as a civil servant for the European Commission, spending most of his career in the Secretariat General where he was Director of Relations with the Council of Ministers. 
  • From 1995 to 2001, he also represented the Commission in the Committee of Permanent Representatives (COREPER). Ponzano then served as the Director for Institutional Affairs and Better Regulation. In 2002 and 2003, Ponzano served as an alternate member of the Convention on the Future of Europe. He has acted as Special Adviser of Maroš Šefčovič (Vice President of the European Commission, in charge of interinstitutional affairs and foresight). He has taught European Union Institutional Law and European Union Governance in many universities and has written several articles on European Union institutional questions and on the European Union decision process.


  • kassim
  • Hussein Kassim is Professor of Politics at The University of East Anglia and Senior Fellow at The UK in a Changing Europe think tank. He has published widely on EU institutions, the relationship between the EU and the member states, competition policy, and aviation policy. He read Politics, Philosophy and Economics at New College, Oxford and obtained an MPhil, and then a DPhil at Nuffield College, Oxford. He has taught at New College, Balliol College, and Worcester College in the University of Oxford, the University of Nottingham, Birkbeck, University of London and has held visiting positions at the European University Institute, University of Oslo, Columbia University, New York University, Harvard, and Sciences Po. Paris. He is a Visiting Professor at the College of Europe in Bruges.



  • jennifer-rankin
  • Jennifer Rankin is the Brussels correspondent of The Guardian. She has also written for Reuters, The Economist, the Irish Times, the Moscow Times and the EU affairs weekly, European Voice. Jennifer began her career in journalism by winning in 2006 the Nico Colchester Journalism Fellowship awarded by the Economist and the Financial Times. Before journalism, Jennifer worked for the UK think-tank, the Institute for Public Policy Research.
  • Photo credit: Sarah Lee/The Guardian


  • scurneen.jpg
  • Sean O'Curneen has a Masters with Distinction in European Politics, graduating from Birkbeck in 2002. Since 2004, he works in Brussels as Secretary General of the Renew Europe (formerly ALDE) Group in the European Committee of the Regions, the EU's assembly of regions and municipalities. In this position, he runs the secretariat that represents and advises mayors, regional presidents/ministers, and local councillors from all over the EU belonging to the Renew Europe political family, in their policy work at European level. Renew Europe represents two European political parties, the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Party and the European Democratic Party. He therefore also informs and advises these parties at the highest level on how subnational government and the EU interact. In 2021, he launched the 15-minute podcast 'Letter from Brussels', which he writes and narrates to help bring interested listeners closer to the EU's capital city and to the work of political leaders who are building the Union from the ground up. In 2020, he advised Transparency International Netherlands and contributed to their report 'Integrity Close to Citizens', published in February 2021.
  • Being half-Irish, half-Spanish, from 2009-2012 he was President of a small political party in Spain, the Centro Democrático Liberal, and in 2013 was invited by the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance and the Asia-Europe Foundation to a workshop in Myanmar to assist with the country's democratisation process by sharing his experience of building up a political party from scratch. The presentation was later published as a chapter in 'Political Parties and Citizen Movements in Asia and Europe'.
  • From 2000-2004 he worked for the Mayor of London, first as a press officer and later in the European and International Affairs unit. Between 1994 and 1999, he was a journalist working for Radio France International in Paris, and then BBC Television in London.


  • tholoniat
  • Mr Luc Tholoniat is Director for the co-ordination of economic policies of the member states in the European Commission's Directorate-General for Economic and Financial Affairs and former member (2014-19) of Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker's cabinet, to the Chair's Advisory Panel. 
  • He tweets at @LucTholoniat



  • bevington
  • Matt is a doctoral student in the Department of Politics at Birkbeck, University of London, researching the development of the UK’s governing institutions for EU policy since 2010. He also works full-time as a Public Policy and Foreign Affairs Analyst at the academic thinktank the UK in a Changing Europe, based at King’s College London. He has worked as an analyst and copy editor in the Europe division at the Economist Intelligence Unit. His work has appeared in the Times Red Box, Financial Times Brexit Briefing, Prospect Magazine and the New Statesman.
  • Discover Matt's doctoral project
  • Discover Matt on Twitter.


  • Dilwyn is a doctoral student in the Department of Politics at Birkbeck, University of London. He graduated in history from Cambridge and then spent his career in the public sector, starting at the UK Department of Trade and Industry before moving to HM Treasury. He worked in a variety of posts concerned with economic and financial policy, with an emphasis on financial services and financial regulation which involved him in negotiating various EU Directives and Regulations. From 1992-95 he was seconded to the Financial Action Task Force on money laundering as its first Executive Secretary. 
  • In 2001 he joined the UK Financial Services Authority (later the Financial Conduct Authority) as Head of Market Monitoring. In this role, he was actively involved in negotiating secondary European legislation and guidelines covering financial services as well as chairing various task forces and working groups for the Committee of European Securities Regulators and its successor the European Securities and Markets Authority. Following his retirement he completed with distinction an MSc in European Politics and Policy at Birkbeck, winning the 2018 Norman Price Prize for the best Politics dissertation. His research interests are European economic and financial policy, the European ‘democratic deficit’ and EU agencies.   
  • Discover Dilwyn's current doctoral project.