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Happy Monday! In today’s Morning Brief, we open with two fascinating opportunities, the SOFT Innovation Prize and Space research calls have opened. We also discuss how the French Presidency wants to back EIA plans and Universities question to push for lump sum funding in Horizon Europe. We have also added two very interesting columns at the end dealing with the DMA trilogue and the idea of an open climate club!
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In today's Morning Brief:
SOFT Innovation Prize
Fusion powers the sun and all the stars of the universe. Harnessing fusion power on earth would provide sustainable energy on an almost limitless scale, to supply the needs of a growing world population. Fusion energy is safe, has no difficult waste issues and is climate friendly.
The contest aims to stimulate the research community to strengthen innovation and foster an entrepreneurial culture in fusion research. The prize rewards outstanding researchers or industries who try to find new solutions, possibly with wider applications, to the huge challenges of fusion.
The name SOFT stands for Symposium on Fusion Technology – the conference where the prize is awarded.
To find out more about how to apply click here.
Space research calls are open
The EU Horizon Europe Space Research calls from 2021 and 2022 work programmes have been launched with deadlines on 16 February 2022.
The main impact of the calls will be to reinforce the EU’s independent capacity to access space, and secure the autonomy of supply for critical technologies and equipment.
Find out more about the calls by clicking here.
French presidency to back EIA plans
During its six-month presidency of the EU, which started this month, France promises “to back the building of a real European Innovation Area.”
Taking a concrete step towards the goal of establishing a single European market for innovation, the presidency will organise a conference on 11 May to discuss the plans.
While France takes the reigns of the Council of member states, the European Commission is gearing up to publish a new European strategy for innovation in the coming months, aiming to boost Europe’s global standing in breakthrough innovation.
Click here to read the programme.
Universities question push for lump sum funding in Horizon Europe
The Guild of European Research-Intensive Universities joins a chorus of organisations raising the alarm about the potential unintended effects of a broader introduction of lump sum funding in the EU research programme Horizon Europe, and calls on the European Commission to consult universities before making the move.
While the Guild supports cutting heavy paperwork associated with Horizon projects, it urges the Commission to first consult university grant and financial managers to determine whether lump sums “provide a simplification from a university management perspective and if they are suitable for all research types.”
The Commission announced plans to introduce widespread lump sum funding to Horizon Europe from 2023 after a recent pilot scheme concluded that the lump sum approach is fit for wider use. However, critics in the research community warn the plans are ‘premature.’
Re-endorsement of rules for large combustion plants to reduce air pollution
The European Commission published an implementing decision to reduce emissions from large combustion plants.
Large combustion plants are the biggest single source of air pollutant emissions in the EU, a major public health hazard contributing to around 400,000 premature deaths in the EU every year. The Decision makes it obligatory for these installations to operate with permits based on Best Available Techniques (BAT), meaning the most effective and advanced operation methods minimizing emissions and their impact on the environment.
EU rules for reducing industrial emissions aim to achieve a high level of protection of human health and the environment by reducing harmful industrial emissions across the EU, in particular through better application of BAT. Decisions on BAT conclusions are the basis to reassess and update the environmental permits of industrial plants.
To read the publication by the Directorate-General for the Environment click here.
Brexit decision left UK firms paying 10% more than EU rivals for emissions
British businesses are paying substantially more to produce carbon dioxide than their EU rivals because of the government’s refusal to link the UK carbon market to the bigger European market after Brexit.
The difference is putting UK industry at a significant competitive disadvantage to European rivals, at a time of soaring energy prices, but does not result in any additional benefit to the environment.
Britain’s carbon price is higher because the UK carbon market, set up last year with the first permit auctions taking place last May, is much smaller and lacks the liquidity of the larger EU emissions trading scheme (EU ETS) that has been operating since 2005 and covers all of the EU’s heavy industries.
Under both schemes, companies buy tradeable permits to cover the carbon dioxide they produce, with cleaner companies able to sell spares to laggards. The price acts as an incentive to companies to clean up their operations, and is seen as an economically efficient way to help meet the net zero emissions target.
Ministers have no plans to seek a link with the EU ETS, but are understood not to have ruled out the possibility entirely.
DMA trilogue: tension in the details
Since the European Commission published its proposal for the Digital Market Act (DMA) in December 2020, policymakers have been hard at work assessing its merits, its shortcomings, and potential improvements. This culminated in both the European Council and European Parliament readying their negotiating positions in late 2021, ahead of the trilogue this year.
But will the amended DMA provide Europe’s consumers and businesses access to the best possible digital products and services over the long run, or does its focus on contestability risk overshadowing other important considerations—such as consumer welfare?
Make sure to read this column by Andreaa Antuca, Dr. Andrew Mell and Gareth Shier here.
How an open climate club can generate carbon dividends for the poor
Long discussed in economic circles, the climate club idea has recently gained momentum. Its contours are clear: club members commit to ambitious domestic emissions reductions and, at the same time, jointly introduce carbon border adjustment measures to hedge against industry moving to regions with lower climate ambitions. In addition, they cooperate on the transformation of their industrial sectors to establish an international lead market for climate-friendly materials and products. That way, climate policy pioneers will avoid a competitive disadvantage in the international marketplace because of their climate efforts, especially when it comes to energy-intensive industries.
All this is sensible, but to be aligned with the Paris Agreement, a climate club needs to respect the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, which postulates that while all countries must take responsibility for fighting the global climate crisis, it is necessary to recognise the significant differences in terms of economic development and historical carbon emissions.
For a climate club to respect this principle and to live up to the imperative of climate justice, it is key to support to emerging economies and developing countries in their transition to a low carbon future. The German proposal hints at helping emerging economies and developing countries to potentially become members of the climate club, but it remains vague on the issue.
Much like domestic carbon taxes, carbon border adjustment measures can also hit the poor harder than the rich – now on a global scale, that is in the Global South. And as carbon dividends can be seen as the building blocks for a future climate safety net for citizens, revenues of carbon border adjustment measures can amount to the same at the global level.
Short of that, the rich will end up taxing the poor. This not only unacceptable from an ethical point of view. It also risks discouraging the much-needed support from Global South nations for international climate action. And this is exactly the reason why revenues obtained from the mechanism must be used as international carbon dividends.
Click here to read the column by Andreas Goldthau and Simone Tagliapietra.
31/05/2022: BioData.PT Session 3, EU AI Law, European Sustainable Energy Week, LIFE Awards 2022 Winners, EU Green Deal, and more.
In today’s Morning Brief:
– BioData.PT Talks Session 3: Recent Artificial Intelligence Tools and Architectures for Structural Biology;
– EUA Policy Input: Considerations for a “European Degree”;
– Putting Science into Standards;
– The EU AI law will not be future-proof unless it regulates general purpose AI systems;
– European Sustainable Energy Week: Going green and digital for Europe’s energy transition;
– European Commission reveals winners of LIFE Awards 2022;
– Interact with statistics for the European Green Deal;
– EU countries urged to prepare for Russian gas cut: Summit draft.
In today’s Morning Brief:
– INESC TEC coordinated a workshop on Machine Learning;
– Access to financial products for persons with a history of cancer in EU Member States;
– Eurostat regional yearbook: From traditional printed publication to modern interactive tool;
– ‘World-first’ project for capturing defunct satellites ramps up;
– Hydrogen: BAM sets up digitally networked research filling station to increase safety of technology;
– EFCA coordinates EU efforts to monitor the bluefin tuna fishing season;
– Zero Pollution Monitoring and Outlook Workshop – Report;
– Commission outlines defence R&D priorities in new €924M work programme.
26/05/2022: INESC-ID research grants, new MSCA platform, Horizon Europe UK backup, REPowerEU, Fit for 55, and more.
In today’s Morning Brief:
– INESC-ID: Nuno Lopes receives research grants from Google and Woven Alpha;
– EU ramping up efforts for strategic autonomy in raw materials;
– Laurence Moreau appointed head of the ERC executive agency;
– Event: The UK’s Position in Global Science and Innovation;
– New MSCA networking platform for future applicants;
– Application system opens for UK Horizon backup grants;
– Fraunhofer elects three new executive vice-presidents;
– FaST Navigator study identifies models necessary to provide accurate advice on the use of fertilisers to EU farmers;
– Germany’s pacifist universities pose obstacle to militarisation of EU R&D;
– Webinar: The European Standardisation Booster;
– MSCA Cluster event on Mission Ocean and Waters;
– REPowerEU: Commission establishes the EU Energy Platform Task Force to secure alternative supplies;
– Horizon Europe mission on carbon-neutral cities kicks into gear;
– Fit for 55: New EU carbon sink goal will increase 2030 reduction target;
– A new Blue Economy Observatory to monitor and promote the sustainability of our ocean related activities;
– Zero Pollution Monitoring and Outlook Workshop – Report.