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In today's Morning Brief:

Switzerland participation to Horizon Europe frozen

After being excluded by the European Commission from a provisional list of third countries eligible for Horizon Europe funding, Switzerland is mounting a campaign to convince Brussels its participation in Horizon Europe should not be confounded by broader political tensions. The decision followed the unilateral decision of Switzerland to withdraw from talks about its overall relationship with the EU. According to Switzerland’s state secretariat for education research and innovation, the country is committed to continue research and innovation cooperation and is ready to start negotiations on its association to Horizon Europe, Euratom, ITER and the Digital Europe programmes. However, representatives of member states in Brussels say it will take a while until all political wrinkles are ironed out and Switzerland can become associated in Horizon Europe, according to an article published on Science Business.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz raised the issue of cooperation with Switzerland at the EU Council meeting on 25 June. Member states agreed to put the issue on the agenda of a future meeting of EU leaders, but the next Council meeting is not due to be held until 21 October.


Horizon Europe launch event – focus on Africa (12 July, in Portuguese)

The Commission has organised a launch event for Horizon Europe, with a specific focus on Lusophone African stakeholders, on 12 July, at 14 CEST. The event intends to inform the scientific community of the programmes and calls under the Africa Initiative: the work programme of Horizon Europe for 2021-2022, for targeted actions within the continent.
The event is organised together with the African Union Commission. The event will take place online, mainly in Portuguese (with interpretation offered from/to English), and its objective is to promote the participation and engagement of researchers, academicians and entrepreneurs in Horizon Europe projects. More details and registrations are available here.


EU training programme for battery industry

A new training programme for boosting skills needed in the European battery industry is set to start up in France, after a signing of a pact as part of EU efforts to develop a battery value chain in Europe. European countries are currently working together to consolidate their place in the global battery industry as part of the European Commission-led European Battery Alliance. But along with boosting innovation and production, it is expected Europe will face a skills shortage. Industry estimates that by 2025 there could be a shortage of some 800,000 jobs across the battery value chain. The French training programme aims to help fill the gap by training around 150,000 people by 2025.

This is the second such training programme in Europe, with the pact for the first one in Spain signed in May. Throughout this year, the Alliance hopes to roll out the initiative across Europe. Also in 2021, alongside the skills project, the Commission launched an industrial partnership for batteries striving to develop a competitive and sustainable European battery market by 2030.


Single European Sky to lower emissions

The European Parliament wants to modernise the EU’s airspace management to make it more efficient and greener. Updating Single European Sky rules should help the aviation sector become more efficient, ensuring shorter flights through more direct routes and thus lowering greenhouse gas emissions, say MEPs. The Single European Sky initiative was launched in 1999, in a period marked by a large increase in flights and growing delays that highlighted the need for better coordination. MEPs say airspace management rules need to be further developed and adapted to evolving markets, the new digital environment and the European Green Deal. They are pushing for new rules that would help achieve up to a 10% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, by avoiding longer routes and promoting cleaner technologies.


European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund approved

The Regulation establishing the European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund (EMFAF) under the EU’s 2021-2027 long-term budget was adopted this week by the European Parliament with an overwhelming majority. With a total budget of €6 108 billion (2021-2027), the EMFAF will provide financial support to protect, manage and sustainably use the ocean and its resources contributing thus to the objectives of the European Green Deal. Under the EU’s common fisheries policy, the fund will enable Member States to pursue priorities such as the implementation of the landing obligation, aiming to overcome wasteful discard practices, and strengthening EU’s fisheries control to foster compliance and ensure a level playing for all operators. 


France raises its investments in 5G

France aims to invest nearly €1.7 billion in its 5G market, Industry Minister Agnès Pannier-Runacher and Secretary of State for Digital Cédric O announced on Tuesday, while presenting the country’s 5G and future telecommunications strategy that is eyeing a 5G market worth €15 billion by 2025. To contribute to its 2025 strategy of reaching a 5G market worth €15 billion, the government announced €480 million in public funding to support priority projects between now and 2022. By 2025, the funding should grow to €735 million. The strategy also plans to contribute to the development of technological bricks – links in the chain – that are sovereign to obtain networks that guarantee a high level of security and reliability and to bolster Franco-German cooperation on the subject. Most of the public funding or €360 million will go towards this. Read more on Euractiv.


Leak: limited progress in Energy Charter Treaty reform talks

Little progress has been made to modernise a controversial agreement on energy investments that activists warn could derail decarbonisation efforts in Europe and across the globe, according to leaked documents. The fifth round of negotiations on reforming the Energy Charter Treaty – an international agreement that allows energy companies to sue governments for decisions impacting their investments – took place in early June. But attempts by the European Commission to bring the treaty in line with international climate goals have so far fallen flat, according to two leaked diplomatic cables. A sixth round of negotiations to reform the Energy Charter Treaty opened on Tuesday; however, support for the EU’s reform plan was close to non-existent in the last negotiation round. Moreover, even if negotiations were to be successful, the EU proposal has been criticised by environmental groups for lacking ambition. Read more on Euractiv.

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