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In today’s Morning Brief, plenty of news from the European Commission! There’s a launch of the exchange programme for coal, and oil shale regions in the EU, new proposals for deforestation, the search for the first EIC Board President but also news on events regarding COP26 and hydrogen and soils, and more!

Any comments or suggestions, hit me up with an email on teresa.carvalho@inesc.pt.

In today's Morning Brief:

In today’s Morning Brief:

Launch of the exchange programme for coal, and oil shale regions in the EU

A new exchange programme for regions producing coal, lignite, peat and oil shale, known as “coal+regions”, has been launched this week, aimed at helping them to achieve a just energy transition.

Called exhangeEU, the programme matches coal+ regions with their peers to deepen their understanding of each other’s challenges around the transition process. This will bring together delegates from regions across the EU to share insights and create unique opportunities for dialogue, cooperation, peer-to-peer learning, and networking.

ExchangeEU encourages stakeholders from a wide variety of backgrounds to apply and help leverage the unique learnings of each region. It will strive to create a community and network of practitioners with a lasting impact through a demand-driven programme design, tailored to the needs of the participating regions.

The call for applications was launched at the Just Transition Platform Meeting on 15 November 2021 and will run until 14 January 2022. Find out more here.

Commission adopts new proposals for deforestation

Today, the Commission adopted three new initiatives that are necessary for making the European Green Deal a reality:

– Regulation to curb EU-driven deforestation and forest degradation;

– Revised regulation on waste shipments to facilitate intra-EU waste shipments to promote circular economy and tackle the export of illegal waste and waste challenges to waste countries;

– New EU Soil Strategy to have all European soils restored, resilient, and adequately protected by 2050.

See more here.

Commission presents the 3rd Materials Scoreboard at the 2021 Raw Materials Week

The Scoreboard presents an in-depth analysis of Europe’s raw material supply chains, their competitiveness and trade flows. It provides input to the EU’s policy efforts at a time when global raw material supply chains continue to be severely disrupted, including as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent surge in energy prices around the world.

Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič, stated, “Raw materials are no longer a simple commodity but a crucial enabler of the green and digital transitions. Their secure and sustainable supply is essential for preserving the global competitiveness of the EU’s most strategic sectors. We must therefore accelerate our efforts to build a more resilient raw materials value chain, by investing not only in primary raw materials extraction but also in domesting refining facilities recycling and R&I all critical for a secure supply of secondary raw materials”.

The 3rd Raw Materials Scoreboard focuses on four main raw material groups: materials, metals, wood and industrial minerals. These materials are essential to several key sectors of the European economy, such as automotive, electronics, or manufacturing industries, which depend on their secure supply. Among the findings, the report highlights that Europe lags behind and has high levels of dependency on other regions for certain raw material production, while domestic production of raw materials secures jobs and added value in the EU, and decarbonisation with circular use of raw materials also offer further opportunities.

Commission is looking to appoint the EIC Board President

This is a new post created to provide strategic leadership for the EIC. The post is full time with a term of office limited to four years, renewable once.

Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Research, Innovation, Culture, Education and Youth, said: “The role of the EIC Board President is to provide leadership to the EIC as a flagship innovation programme, known to innovators across Europe and beyond. (S)he will lead the new EIC Board and translate the their vision and advice into a programme that meets innovators needs and enables them to develop ground breaking technologies and successful companies in Europe. I invite the outstanding visionary innovators in all parts of Europe to come forward for this important new role”. 

The new President is expected to be appointed in the first quarter of 2022. The deadline for applications is 17 December 2021, 12:00 Brussels time. For more information, including on how to apply, please check here.

Beyond Glasgow: What impact will COP26 have on Europe’s green R&D dreams?

In this free-to-air, livestreamed debate, Science|Business will bring together leading figures – including UK Science Minister George Freeman – to discuss the dust settling on COP26, and to reflect on its implication for European science and technology in the months ahead.

Register here, for the 25th of November!

First Digital Europe calls worth €458 million open

Today, the European Commission launched the first calls under the Digital Europe programme aimed at advancing the EU’s digital transition.

The first €415 million strand of grants will be distributed to projects in cloud to edge infrastructure, data spaces, artificial intelligence, quantum communication infrastructure, advancing people’s digital skills, and tackling online child sexual abuse and disinformation. The money is set to be spent until 2022.

Another €43 million in grants will be invested in cybersecurity projects, such as support in the health sector, and the deployment of a network of coordination centers in a bid to help member states implement relevant EU cybersecurity legislation.

There’s also a separate call for proposals to set up and deploy the European Digital Innovation Hub (EDIH) network, which will aim to private companies and the public sector in their digital transformation.

The Commission adopted its plan for the first two-years of the Digital Europe programme last week here.  

EU plans single database to certify carbon content of hydrogen, low-carbon fuels

The European Commission is preparing to launch an EU-wide database to certify the carbon footprint of hydrogen and other low-carbon fuels in a harmonized way.

The carbon certification of hydrogen production – currently 96% reliant on fossil fuels – is seen as crucial to introduce some transparency and traceability in the emerging EU market for low-carbon fuels.

To achieve this, the Commission is planning an EU-wide database, which is due to be unveiled in December as part of a package of EU laws aimed at decarbonizing the gas sector.

Western European countries, which need large quantities of clean hydrogen to decarbonize their energy-hungry industries, have already told the Commission they would welcome such a move.

96% of hydrogen consumed in Europe today is fossil-based, which is why the European Commission is putting its hopes on so-called “green hydrogen” produced from renewable energy sources.

To read more about this click here!

Soils to receive same legal status as air, water

The European Union’s soil strategy has outlined plans for a soil health law by 2023 to bring soil on the same legal footing as air and water, and EU lawmakers have warned this must be a hard deadline.

The EU soil strategy, launched yesterday, will offer an overarching policy framework for soil restoration to assess the status of European soil and take action against its degradation.

“We depend on soil for most of our food and yet, 70% of soil is not in good condition,” Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans pointed out during a press conference marking the unveiling of the strategy.

To tackle this, the strategy sets a number of ambitious and necessary objectives to restore the EU’s soils.

Most notably, this includes a new EU soil health law by 2023, with the goal of dramatically improving the state of soil by 2050. If backed by the European Parliament and the member states, it will become the first EU-wide law protecting the soil.

Read more here!

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