All is green (and not just on Portuguese football…). The EU Green Week, the UN and the PT EU Council Presidency and even the Recovery and Resilience Funds are all focused on the green policies, promoting circular economy, digital as a means to greener industry and so on. This was combined with another “recovery”, that of the 3% of GDP to be invested in R&D, which was supposed to be achieved in 2010, then by 2020, now set as a goal for 2030. Manuel Heitor and Marya Gabriel presided over a Council of Ministers that renewed this call and specific target. A good one and with better chances to be achieved this time.


EU Open Data Days

Data is a key asset for digital transformation. It is a building material for research and innovation, personalised products and services, powerful new technologies and better decision-making. The EU Open Data Days, planned for 23 -25 november 2021, aim to increase awareness of this valuable asset, to explore its potential and to generate more value from it, on the way towards a European data-driven economy. Check out the agenda of the different events taking place during the EU Open Data Days and prepare your participation.


Synergies: 3% R&D investment target re-agreed and dependent on synergies between SF, HE and RRF

If you don’t know, 3% (of GDP) investment in R&D was the target agreed in the famous 2002 Barcelona meeting, where all (15, at the time) EU countries agreed that each country should be able to reach by 2010. It was the natural continuation of the Lisbon Strategy (set in 2000 during the Portuguese Presidency of the time). And here we go again. It’s 2020 and we are promising to reach 3% of GDP invested in R&D by…. 2030. However, this will depend on the rightful combination with Structural Funds, Horizon Europe and the Recovery and Resilience Funds. A strong push for the desired simplification and harmonisation that INESC has been calling for years and was publicly stated in its 2020 position paper. In case you are wondering, Portugal was near 1,4% in 2018 prices. A long way away from the 3% of Sweden, Austria and Denmark and even further away from the 3,5% of Switzerland and the US, or the 4,5% of South Korea.


EU green week – call open for partner events

The EU green week this year will be centred on “Zero pollution” and will take place from May 31st to June 4th. Correlated to the main event, partner events are expected to take place from May 3rd to June 13th, and the Commission invites applications to be part of their programme. Any kind of event is welcome, from conferences and workshops to exhibitions, webinars, networking, and online events. Activities can take place at all levels (local, regional, national, or European), online, offline or in hybrid format. It is time to start planning!

Red alert on climate action from UNEP

Some bleak news on the climate change front. The UN Environmental Programme reports that nations are “nowhere close” to the level of action needed to fight global warming. The Secretary-General of the UN António Guterres said that the 2021 will be a “make it or break it” year to tackle the climate emergency. Despite the loud voices of hard-core denialists, the sense of urgency is perceived very clearly by the general public: as it emerged in the survey results last January, the majority of people surveyed believed that climate change is a global emergency, and urge greater actions to fight it. This double pressure is already bearing fruits: the EU is stepping up its commitment for climate change mitigation and adaptation on a daily basis. Now it seems that the EU’s most crucial task will be to lead by example and convince other parties to join the climate action.


“This is not about saving the planet, but about saving ourselves” – Portuguese PM reinforces calls for a circular economy

At a high-level conference on the climate change, the Portuguese PM, António Costa reinforced calls for more circularity, after a speech in the same direction of travel delivered by the Portuguese Minister of Environment. The importance of this is that it seems a compromise on the increased spending directed to transforming industry, both through digitalisation and other processes, in line with what the manufacturing PPP Factories of the Future (now Made in Europe), where INESC TEC is a member of the governing bodies, has been advocating through its Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda. Moreover, according to António Costa, 47% of the Portuguese Recovery and Resilience funds will be targeting climate transition while ensuring no investments are harmful to the environment. How this is measured, is of course open to debate, however, these EU commitments, especially when you are the President of the Council, usually have direct consequences on how the funds are executed and towards what end.


History: 20 Year of the Treaty of Nice

Well, it has been 20 years since the date the longest meeting ever finished. After 5 days and 4 5 nights in a row, locked in a room, Chirac, Blair, Aznar and all the names you may or may not remember by now, negotiated and defined the Treaty of Nice, aiming at preparing the EU for the biggest enlargement ever, with 10 new member states in 2004 and two in 2007. The treaty reformed the EU institutions to make them more efficient in an enlarged EU of 27 member states. However, it was not consensual. Remember that many (like Jacques Chirac, to start with) were not in favour. The argument, as a late friend of mine told me during the EU Constitution negotiations in 2003/2004 (Franck Biancheri, one of the main people behind the ERASMUS programme), was that “enlargement could not be made so abruptly. The EU will become a heavy ship, too difficult to manage, we need a speed boat”. So the proposal was for maintaining most of the eastern European countries as privileged partners, with almost all the perks of integration, but without voting rights, at least until we achieved a deeper and more reliable integration between the 15 Member States that composed the EU at the time. The European Council library has a nice short video where you can revisit all of this.


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