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In today's Morning Brief:

Horizon Europe Info Days (28 June 2021 – 9 July)

The 10-day event will give prospective applicants and other stakeholders of EU research and innovation the opportunity to get information and ask questions about main funding instruments, processes of Horizon Europe and what is new. The Horizon Europe info days will address 9 themes, each featuring a programme of exclusive discussions and hands-on sessions dedicated to a different cluster or part of the new programme. It is worth pointing out that the sessions dedicated to Cluster 4 (Digital, Industry & Space) will take place on the 29th and 30th. The full programme is available on the website of the Info Days, here, but find below a synthetic overview of the event.


EC Research and Innovation Days (23-24 June)

The European Research and Innovation Days are the European Commission’s annual flagship R&I event, bringing together policymakers, researchers, entrepreneurs and the public to debate and shape the future of research and innovation in Europe and beyond. The event will take place online on 23 and 24 June 2021. The full programme of the two days and the registration link are available here.


Commission webinar on Horizon EU (9 June)

Reminder: the Commission will host its new explanatory webinar on Horizon Europe, titled Dissemination & Exploitation in Horizon Europe this week, on Wednesday 9th, from 9.30 CEST. The event does not need registration and will be live-streamed on the event page. As for previous Commission webinars on Horizon Europe, the supporting documents of this session will be available on the Commission website and also on the HUB website Private Area.


Deal over quantum and space research for Horizon EU

Researchers from Israel, Switzerland, Britain and other non-EU countries may be allowed to join the EU’s quantum and space research projects, under a deal between representatives of member states and the European Commission reached this week. The agreement could end months of uncertainties around international participation in sensitive R&D projects in Horizon Europe, although the Commission has yet to confirm the deal.

According to the agreement, eligibility to participate in 21 quantum and space research calls could be extended to include legal entities established in candidate associated countries which provide necessary assurances concerning protection of the EU’s strategic assets, interests, autonomy or security. Quantum and space calls will be frozen until associated countries provide those “necessary assurances” that their participation will not violate the EU’s strategic interests. These are to be settled within individual association agreements which are being negotiated bilaterally by the EU and interested countries over the next year. Read more on Science|Business.

Smart City Marketplace Forum

On June 9th and 10th will take place the virtual Smart City Marketplace Forum, now an official partner event of the EU Green Week and linked to the EU Zero Pollution Ambition. In this context, the aim of the Forum and the consolidated matchmaking – promoted by the European Commission under the Smart Cities Marketplace – is to discuss the future of Smart (Sustainable) Cities and the Smart Cities Marketplace in its function as a hub for synergising with other relevant EU initiatives, share best practices, and initiate a dialogue on how successful innovations can be adjusted to Zero Pollution contexts. The Smart Cities Marketplace Matchmaking funnel provides matchmaking geared to specific needs of city administrations and informs about financial instruments. It helps Smart Cities Marketplace stakeholders to realize their plans and projects – the essence of the Smart Cities Marketplace’s operation. Go to the event website to check out the programme and register.

Zero Pollution Stakeholder Platform launched by the EC and the Committee of Regions

Last week, the European Commission and the European Committee of the Regions have launched a Stakeholder Platform to help implement the EU Action Plan: “Towards Zero Pollution for Air, Water and Soil”. The Action Plan – a key deliverable of the European Green Deal and the main topic of this year’s EU Green Week – was adopted on 12 May 2021. It sets out an integrated vision for 2050 to reduce pollution to levels that are no longer harmful to human health and natural ecosystems, as well as intermediary targets for 2030, and actions to achieve the objectives.

The Zero Pollution Stakeholder Platform will help deliver on the flagship initiatives and actions set out in the Zero Pollution Action Plan by bringing together actors from different communities and areas of expertise, defining a common vision on how to achieve zero pollution objectives, and developing and sharing good practices on topics such as financing  for zero pollution innovation and creating thematic hubs like the Clean Air Tech Hub.

Hydrogen sector aims for drastic price cuts by 2050

According to an article on Euractiv sponsored by Hydrogen Europe, the price of clean hydrogen can be cut drastically by mid-century if the EU creates a dedicated market structure to develop the fuel, according to the industry. Environmental groups, however, are sceptical about the emergence of a hydrogen economy. Instead, Hydrogen Europe proposes a distinct legal framework for hydrogen, based on two pillars – markets and infrastructure – to unlock the necessary investments. To that end, it proposes in its recently published Hydrogen Act, to relax EU state aid rules for hydrogen, and make them eligible for bigger subsidies from national governments by flagging them as Important Projects of Common European Interest (IPCEI). Read more on this here.

Digital identity wallet proposal

The European Commission will has announced its plans for a digital identity wallet to allow Europeans to access public and private services, prompted in part by the COVID-19 pandemic which has seen a massive surge in online services. The digital identity wallet offers the possibility to citizens everywhere in the EU to identify themselves digitally and to store and manage identity data and official documents – such as driving licences or educational certificates – in electronic form. Already in March, the Commission announced its intention to create a binding EU framework for the introduction of a digital European identity in its Digital Compass. The move also seeks to counter the growing popularity of digital wallets offered by Apple, Alphabet unit Google, Thales and financial institutions which critics say could pose privacy and data protection concerns. “The idea is to create a European self-sovereign identity ecosystem to break dependencies on monopolies and gain the freedom to shape the digital future in a sovereign and swift manner,” Norbert Pohlmann of the Internet Industry Association (eco) told EURACTIV. Read more on the proposal here.

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