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In today's Morning Brief:

Parliament votes for more independence of European Medicines Agency

Parliament has voted to give the EMA more power and independence in handling COVID-19 pandemic and future health emergencies.  Reforming EMA is a response to how the EU was found wanting by COVID-19, with limited central power to deal with problems including drug and medical devices shortages; the need to quickly approve and set up large scale clinical trials; and a lack of open channels through which to exchange data about the pandemic. To avoid similar problems in future, it is proposed EMA will be responsible for a central database of stocks of medicines and medical devices, allowing it to monitor the position on the ground across Europe and move to head off shortages. The agency will also be given the power to take the initiative on clinical trials of medicines, vaccines and medical devices for health emergencies. In addition, EMA will be responsible for setting up and managing panels of experts to take a broad view of emergency response across Europe and to conduct an annual review of crisis preparedness. Read more on Science Business.


Parliament back proposal to spend € 111 million on coal and steel research

Parliament has also backed a proposal by the European Commission to raise more money for its coal and steel research programme, providing the means to align its R&D with broader targets for greening steel production and decarbonising the economy. Until now, the European Commission has used the returns on assets of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) to support research projects in the steel and coal sectors with €40 million each year. With returns winding down, the Commission has called for member states to decide on new sources funding to ensure a higher and more reliable source of financing. The Commission wants to sell some ECSC assets and broaden the investments to foreign currencies and exchange traded funds and mutual funds, in bring in an annual allocation of €111 million until 2027.


ERA: are member states doing enough to boost their R&D?

Efforts by EU countries to improve their research systems are showing uneven progress and the speed of reforms is slowing down, MEPs warned during a plenary debate on Wednesday. The European Parliament says member states should raise public expenditure on research and innovation from 0.81% to 1.25% of GDP by 2030, to help the EU achieve targets set by the European Commission’s plan to establish a single market for research in the European Research Area (ERA).

It is the first time MEPs have debated the upgrade of the European Research Area in a plenary session since the plan was published by the Commission in September. The debate had been postponed because of a lack of official endorsements from all political groups. As a result of the delay, commissioner Gabriel was not able to attend the session, as she had other commitments in her home country Bulgaria. EU environment commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius defended the ERA plan in the plenary. Read more on Science Business.


Slovenian presidency drafts pact for gender equality in research

The Slovenian presidency, which started its six-month stint in the EU Council this month, is drafting the Ljubljana pact on gender parity in research and hopes EU member states will sign it in Brussels in September. The goal of the declaration is to mainstream gender action in research. It won’t be binding but will aim to encourage joint efforts across the EU to close the gender gap.

Slovenia’s science and education minister Simona Kustec says the current efforts of the EU to close the gender gap in scientific research, although useful, are not enough. “These efforts must continue and expand for research and innovation to contribute to the resilience and quality of our democratic institutions, but also sustainability and competitiveness in and of the EU,” she said. EU research commissioner Mariya Gabriel expressed support for the pact and stressed that action, not just words, to bring about change. Read more on the pact on Science Business.


Fit-for-55 climate package

The European Commission will table a package of energy and climate laws on Wednesday (14 July) aimed at reaching the EU’s 2030 goal of cutting emissions by 55%, and putting it on track to hit net zero by 2050. EURACTIV gives you the lowdown on the plan. The package consists of 13 legislative proposals – some new and others revisions of existing laws. Here’s what to expect, according to Euractiv.

Updates to existing EU laws:

  • Revision of the EU emission trading scheme (EU ETS)
  • Revision of the regulation on land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF)
  • Revision of the effort sharing regulation (ESR)
  • Amendment to the renewable energy directive (RED)
  • Amendment to the energy efficiency directive (EED)
  • Revision of the alternative fuels infrastructure directive (AFID)
  • Amendment of the regulation setting CO2 emission standards for cars and vans
  • Revision of the energy taxation directive

New legislative proposals:

  • New EU forest strategy
  • A carbon border adjustment mechanism (CBAM)
  • A Climate Action Social Facility
  • ReFuelEU Aviation – on sustainable aviation fuels
  • FuelEU Maritime – on greening Europe’s maritime space.


DG Energy releases electricity market report for Q1 of 2021

The electricity market report for the first quarter of 2021, released by DG Energy, highlights how EU-wide consumption increased 2% year-on-year, as increasing heating demand and recovering manufacturing industry were able to reverse falls in other sectors of the economy – to the extent that consumption was close to pre-pandemic levels.

The long and cold winter of 2020/2021, fostered a recovery in electricity demand and made more space for fossil fuels in the electricity mix, in spite of increasing carbon prices. Despite lower winds across Europe, the share of renewables still managed to reach 38%, beating fossil fuels (35%) as in last quarter of 2020. The presence of renewables in the mix was supported by an increase of 11% in hydro generation (+11 TWh), 7% of biomass (+2 TWh) and solar (+1 TWh) on yearly basis. Low levels of electricity demand during the start of the COVID crisis (Q1 2020) amplified the comparative increase in fossil fuel generation during this quarter. Coal and lignite generation rose by 14%, while nuclear output remained practically unchanged. Gas profited from the increased demand only marginally, seeing its output grow by 3% (+5 TWh) as higher gas prices partially reversed coal-to-gas switching in some markets.

Demand for electrically chargeable vehicles (ECVs) rose over the first quarter. More than 350,000 new ECVs were registered in the EU from January to March 2021. This was the second-highest quarterly figure on record and translated into an impressive 14% market share, more than one and a half times higher than in China and four times higher than in the United States. Read more on the Commission website here.


JRC study shows benefits from increased green farming requirements

Published on Wednesday, a new study by the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the Commission shows how the choices farmers make to adopt voluntary green practices are affected by how much they are already obliged to contribute to the environment.

The behavioural science study finds that the more mandatory requirements placed on farmers, the less likely they are to make additional voluntary contributions. However, if the mandatory requirements are ambitious enough, the positive impact on the environment more than offsets the drop in voluntary actions. These new behavioural insights help enhance the knowledge base, which in turn helps design policies that maximise the impact of the payments they receive on the positive contribution of farmers to the environment. For example, in the provisional political agreement on the new CAP, EU Member States are asked to prepare strategic plans to implement the policy over the next five years. Behavioural insights are one tool that can help them do that effectively.

More on the future of EU common agricultural policy here.

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01/11/2023 – Lisbon crowned European Capital of Innovation, Canada´s association to Horizon Europe, €75.35B boost to the ERA, new energy projects for the Green Deal & much more

In today’s Morning Brief:
Calls open for 2023 Innovation Fund proposals with record €4B budget
Artificial Intelligence and Data Science
Utilizing Artificial Intelligence to develop the Smart Specialization Observatory
Fighting extreme weather with extreme computing power
Commission proposes 166 cross-border energy projects for EU support to help deliver the European Green Deal
Commission sets out actions to accelerate the roll-out of electricity grids
EU and India sign semiconductor memorandum of understanding
Research & Innovation
Canada to sign Horizon Europe association deal next year
No more New European Bauhaus Mission
Nature-inspired flying robots: advancements in environmental monitoring
Over €75B of the recovery funds will go to European Research Area objectives
Lisbon crowned European capital of innovation for 2023
Maria Leptin’s perspectives on university challenges and innovation
EU’s Industrial R&D Scoreboard updates
RTP3 features INOV’s AI-integrated inspection system in RiaStone production
APPRAISE system: INOV contributes to enhancing security in public spaces through innovative technology
INESC TEC collaborates on a European project that promotes the use of algae in sustainable aquaculture
INESC TEC’s podcast among the nominees for a national award
Job Opportunities
Events & Training workshops

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24/11/2023 – EU’s decarbonization push, INESC participates in Portugal’s Blockchain initiative, Horizon Europe budget boost for R&I & much more

In today’s Morning Brief:
EU Commission to spend €186 million promoting agri-food products in and outside EU in 2024
Commission opens search for technology infrastructure expert group
Artificial Intelligence and Data Science
Call for Contributions: EU-U.S. Trade & Technology Council’s first edition of AI terminology and taxonomy
Belgium to focus on a public sector European blockchain during its EU presidency
Europe still working with China on military and surveillance uses of artificial intelligence, report finds
EU launches new competition to give AI companies access to supercomputers
Plans to boost Europe’s Net-Zero technology production
As microscopic materials proliferate, ensuring they are safe is a priority
Research & Innovation
European Parliament Approves 2024 EU Budget with Boost for Research and Innovation
Council approves UK’s inclusion in Horizon Europe and Copernicus Programmes
EU lagging behind on antimicrobial resistance research
Opinion article in Science Business: The European Research Area needs a reboot
EIT lauds impact of Regional Innovation Scheme in latest report
INESC participates at BLOCKCHAIN.PT initiative
INESC MN partners up in semiconductor consortium
INESC TEC advances autonomous vehicle perception in THEIA project
The HUB hosts EARTO meeting on EU RD&I Programmes
HUB contributes at the INESC TEC Autumn Forum
Job Opportunities
Events & Training workshops

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17/11/2023 – Horizon Europe latest calls, the €85M boost next year to reach €12.9B, the approval of the Critical Raw Materials Act & much more

In today’s Morning Brief:
Horizon: €290M in funding for digital, industry and space
ERC sees rise in Starting Grant applications
Artificial Intelligence
OECD updates definition of Artificial Intelligence ‘to inform EU’s AI Act’
Study highlights AI’s economic potential amid EU regulatory focus
EU Atlantic strategy: what’s next?
How can regenerative agriculture help the food system survive?
Regional Innovation Valleys for Bioeconomy and Food Systems” launch event conclusions
Research & Innovation
Horizon Europe: €12.9 Billion Boost in 2024 Budget
Commission welcomes political agreement on the Critical Raw Materials Act
Paper: How regional innovation ecosystems can improve participation in the European Framework Programme for R&I
European Space Agency looks to private sector to stay competitive
Technology readiness levels are getting a reality check to ensure innovations are socially acceptable
Research Management initiative advances strategic capacities in European research organisations
Carla Gonçalves of INESC TEC recognized among Portugal’s green visionaries
Bactometer project secures runner-up position in EIT Health
Artificial Intelligence and humans collaborate to enhance critical infrastructure security
Job Opportunities
Events & Training workshops

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