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In today's Morning Brief:

Eleven EU countries call to ban fossil fuels from trans-European energy infrastructure

Eleven EU countries have signed a declaration calling on the European Union to stop funding fossil fuels under its trans-European energy infrastructure regulation (TEN-E), which is currently under revision. The informal document follows discussions in Brussels on Wednesday about the contribution of Europe’s infrastructure to decarbonisation and the green transition.

The signatories – Austria, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Estonia, Ireland, Luxembourg, Latvia, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden – emphasise that fossil fuels will need to play an increasingly smaller role in the energy system as the EU aims to cut emissions by more than half by 2030 and reach net zero emissions by 2050. They add that the revision of the TEN-E regulation should exclude funding fossil fuel infrastructure that would lock Europe into carbon-emitting energy sources or strand assets, like gas pipelines. For more information, read this Euractiv article.

Clean Energy for EU islands forum

On 20 and 21 May, he first forum of Phase II of the Clean energy for EU islands secretariat will present practical steps towards the decarbonisation of EU islands and showcase ongoing and completed clean energy projects on islands. The 2-day event will be a knowledge hub on the EU clean energy transition on islands. It will provide participants with a platform to gain visibility for their initiatives, to get technical assistance for designing, preparing, and implementing their decarbonisation plans and to get assistance on project funding. Moreover, the results of the Secretariat’s first call for technical assistance will be announced. To register follow this link.

Using hydrogen for cars and homes is discouraged by climate researchers

Using hydrogen-based fuels for cars and home heating risks locking in a dependency on fossil fuels and failing to tackle the climate crisis, according to a new analysis. The analysis estimated that hydrogen-based fuels would be very expensive and scarce in the coming decade. Therefore, equipment such as “hydrogen-ready” boilers could end up being reliant on fossil gas and continue to produce the carbon emissions driving global heating. Using the electricity to create hydrogen from water and then using carbon dioxide to manufacture other fuels can produce “drop-in” replacements for fossil fuels. But the new study concludes this cannot work on a large enough scale to tackle the climate emergency in time. “Hydrogen-based fuels can be a great clean energy carrier, yet their costs and associated risks are also great,” said Falko Ueckerdt, at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) in Germany, who led the research. For more on this news, read this Euractiv article.

Horizon Europe Covid-19 call deadline extended

The deadline for the COVID19 call on research infrastructures, vaccines, health data sharing and cohorts has been extended to 11 May. The calls, together with all past and future funding opportunities, can be accessed on the European Commission portal here.

Evaluation of the 2nd call of the ELIIT project

The second call for proposals for the European light industries innovation and technology project (ELIIT project) ended on April 14. As part of the second call, ELIIT received 96 partnership proposals. Of this total, 76 proposals were for partnerships in the textile and clothing sectors, and 20 were for the leather and footwear sectors. These partnership proposals came from 28 countries participating in the EU’s COSME programme for small and medium-sized enterprises.

These proposals will now be evaluated in a two-stage process:

1st phase – internal evaluation. This evaluation phase will finish in mid-May. The projects that ARE NOT selected in this phase will then receive feedback from the internal evaluators.

2nd phase – external evaluation. The second evaluation process performed by the Steering Board experts will finish at the end of June. The selected projects will then be announced and the projects that are not selected will receive feedback.

More information on the process here.


Launch of the Conference on the Future of Europe – we need to make our voice heard

In an article published in POLITICO today, columnist Paul Taylor wrote that “the Conference on the Future of Europe, which opens with grand fanfare in Strasbourg on Sunday, Europe Day, has been painstakingly designed to go nowhere. Unless its participants band together to make their voices heard, it risks turning into yet another unproductive EU talking shop.”. The HUB is mobilising INESC researchers and all its staff to start contributing. This will be done in different ways and a big part of it will be international events and the H Magazine, whose first number is under preparation. Meanwhile, you can find links, factsheets and plenty of background information in this link.


Deep Dive

Slovenian Presidency Priorities for Research and Innovation (July-December 2021)

In the second half of 2021, Slovenia will hold the Presidency of the Council of the EU for the second time. In a meeting of IGLO, the Informal Group of Liaison Offices in Brussels, the HUB participated in the presentation and Q&A session about the Slovenian Presidency (SL) priorities for research and innovation (R&I) for July to December 2021. Here are the main take-aways:

SL presidency is part of the trio programme, jointly developed between DE, PT and SL, so they will make sure that all the priorities that were set up are achieved and finalised, there is a sense of continuity but they also aim to make sure that they set the path for the continuation of the recovery in the next few years. Regarding R&I the goal is to embed R&I in all the sectoral policies so that R&I contributes to the different sectoral goals.

There will be 4 main dossiers (see below). The discussion was mainly focused on the second one (European Research Area).

  • European partnerships
  • European research area

Governance: Pact for R&I, governance framework (CCs), in ERA Forum for Transition, synergies HE-RI – needs to link properly R&I to policies, engage stakeholders and focus more on delivery and implementation, mobilise political commitment to make sure goals are achieved

Directionality: cross-sectoral approach (governance initiatives), link to missions, ERA Forum for Transition – directionality is mostly linked to missions

Research infrastructures, researchers’ careers: addressed through topical conferences, Pact for R&I (which should have 3 parts – shared principles, main priorities and frame the ambitions and process of implementation) and CCs

Bridge to implementation: ERA Policy Agenda, conference

  • International cooperation

              Western Balkans

              Association of 3rd countries to Horizon Europe

              Global approach to R&I

  • Gender equality

              First presidency conference

              Political visibility

              Part of Pact for R&I


What is the presidency of the Council of the EU?

EU Member States hold the presidency of the Council of the EU (one of the main EU institutions, in addition to the European Commission and the European Parliament) according to a rotation system determined in advance. The presidency of each Member State lasts six months. Slovenia held the presidency for the first time in the first half of 2008; its next turn will be in the second half of 2021.

The key content-related task of the presidency country is to manage the work of the Council, particularly by directing the legislative work of the EU and formulating the joint positions of the Council regarding talks with the European Parliament as the co-legislator, as well as with the European Commission. The presidency must ensure compliance with legislative procedures and impartially direct harmonisation among the Member States. It is expected to act as an honest and neutral broker that does not emphasise its own national interests but strives for common solutions.

The content and scope of the legislation considered during a presidency depend on the EU Strategic Agenda initiatives of the European Commission. There are 500 to 700 legislative proposals considered during each six-month period. Statistically, one-third of all legislative proposals on which negotiations are held are adopted under the presidency of one Member State, as the regular legislative procedure takes one to two years on average.


Participation in the Trio Presidency

A Trio Presidency comprises the three Member States that assume the presidency of the Council of the EU in succession. To keep work and leadership as smooth as possible during this 18-month period and to pursue common EU policy objectives, the trio, in cooperation with other EU institutions, sets long-term goals and draws up a joint 18-month work programme and priorities. On the basis of this programme, each of the three countries prepares its own more detailed six-month programme.

Slovenia will again work together in the trio with Germany, which held the presidency in the second half of 2020, and Portugal, which held the presidency in the first half of 2021.

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