The University of Birmingham will welcome the Head of the European Commission Representation in the UK, Reijo Kemppinen, to its European Research Institute on Thursday, March 16.

Mr Kemppinen, who has written several books about the EU, Belgium and Finnish politics, will deliver a speech at a seminar on The Relationship Between the UK and the EU: is there any hope for the future?

The seminar, will take place from 5pm in the ERI seminar room on the ground floor. A question and discussion session will follow. Afterwards, there will be reception, sponsored by the Office of the European Commission in the UK.

A native Finn, Mr Kemppinen began his career as a journalist before taking up a correspondent's post in Brussels. He joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1992, coordinating the Government's communication efforts during its accession talks with the EU. When Finland joined the EU, he returned to Brussels as Finnish Representation spokesman.

In 1999 he was the spokesman of the Presidency of the EU. From 2004-5 he was the Head of the Commission in Helsinki, from where he was invited to London last autumn.

A Knight, First Class, of the Order of the Lion of Finland, Mr Kemppinen has also written and directed several promotional films.

Cillian Ryan, Head of the ERI and Jean Monnet Chair in European Economics at the university, said: "This is a fantastic opportunity (for West Midlanders) to get an

insiders' insight into the Commission's view on UK/EU relations."

For more information, please contact the Press Office, University of Birmingham, 0121 415 8134.

Notes to editors:

The University of Birmingham European Research Institute is home to more than 50 academic staff engaged in teaching and research in European politics, economics, history, law, culture and society. It advises and acts as a resource centre for Government, business and the wider community and is supported by an extensive European Resource Centre and a state of the art conference facility.