Welcome to the Monday Morning Brief. As usual, Mondays in Brussels are grey (also news wise, most things happen Tuesday to Thursday – a Brussels bubble thing you learn after years of living it). There are a few interesting highlights, though. Very relevant to all of you: we are now starting the testing phase of the Private Area of the INESC Brussels HUB website. Soon, all INESC staff and researchers will have a common repository and platform for management of joint work in European-related issues and projects.

 

Eurobarometer – R&I raised to top priority for 20% of EU citizens

I am not sure if they even included research and innovation in previous Eurobarometer key questions, but the truth is that during the 20+ years I have monitored EU key info and attitudes towards R&I, I have never seen R&I among the top ten issues for Europeans. Not that Europeans diminished or lack consideration for R&I, but it was one of those things that “had to exist” in the background. Now, R&I is considered a top-priority by 20% of Europeans. This has to mean something and should have consequences, not least in terms of budget commitments from countries that clearly lag behind in this domain, such as Portugal.

 

https://www.politico.eu/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/28/SocialEuropeEurobarometer.png

However, even if the pandemic status of our society increased the importance of R&I, the top priority is healthcare, not only in Portugal, but across many other countries. Interesting to note that “education, training and lifelong learning” was said to be the most important issue for Nordic countries. What that says about them holding access to excellent healthcare as an obvious thing is actually a better characterisation of the deep divide in EU than anything else.

https://www.politico.eu/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/28/SocialEurobarometer2.png

 

EU and UN agreement on environmental crisis

The EU is making new steps towards building international synergies to tackle climate change, pollution, and biodiversity loss. On Friday, the European Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius and UN Environment Programme Executive Director Inger Andersen signed a new Annex to the 2014 Memorandum of Understanding between the European Commission and the UNEP, outlining revised areas for cooperation for the period 2021-2025. The first of the 5 chapters of the agreement is to “improve the science-policy interface”, and the focus of the document is on advancing the green-digital transition through cooperation frameworks between EU and the UN.

 

Structured dialogue on the supply of medicines

As the delays in the fulfilment of the contract for the delivery of vaccines has been the talk of the village for a few weeks now, the European Commission launched on Friday a structured dialogue with the actors in the pharmaceuticals manufacturing chain. The dialogue is part of the Pharmaceutical Strategy for Europe and will involve national authorities, health NGOs and the research community to identify vulnerabilities of the pharmaceutical supply chain and ensure health systems’ preparedness for future (let alone present) crisis.

 

EU energy in figures

The European Commission has updated the biannual “Energy statistical country datasheet”, which compares the figures on energy across EU member states. The datasheet covers data on present long-term time series of energy balances, electricity and heat generation, main energy indicators, cogeneration, transport fuels and GHG emissions. Here you can have a look at it, as well as to the yearly “EU energy in figures statistical pocketbook”, published last November.

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