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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!

Any comments or suggestions, hit me up with an email on teresa.carvalho@inesc.pt.

In today's Morning Brief:

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.

More Articles

26/05/2023: New Horizon Europe calls, a global drive for open science, European Commission DG RTD recent reorganisation, EU-China & much more

In today’s Morning Brief:
Horizon Europe
– Twinning call for proposals is open – Read all about it
– Horizon Europe ERA Fellowships call is now open
– EUR 20 million available for Pathways to synergies – Call for proposals
– New Horizon Europe funding opportunity: Dissemination & Exploitation Support Facility call
– Commission Open Call: Expert Group on the Interim Evaluation of Horizon Europe
– Industry 5.0 Award contest opens: apply by 1 September 2023
– Horizon Europe: The EU and the Republic of Korea launch formal negotiations on association to the programme
– European Space Agency chief seeks ‘forward-looking decisions’
Research & Innovation:
– EU research ministers make fresh call for a full transition to free open access publishing
– Open Science: stakeholders welcome European efforts towards publicly owned and not-for-profit scholarly communication
– Global drive for more open, rigorous research is growing
– European Commission sets up new European Innovation Council unit in the research directorate
– Spain wants EU presidency to be ‘bridge’ with Latin American R&D
– Green industry law haunted by old conflicts over nuclear, financing
– The five EU research projects involving China’s military-linked universities
– Critical Raw Materials: EU ministers want to move fast but dilemmas abound
– G7 ministers call for rules to improve research security
– Territorial Economic Data viewer supports policy monitoring
News from INESC institutes:
– INESC Brussels HUB is signing an Open Letter regarding changes to Who is Who in EC Directorate
– ECI Cruelty-free cosmetics – Consultation to adhere to joint final statement
– Structuring the ecosystem: RTOs collaboration with higher education institutions
– INESC TEC develops pioneering research in the application of variational quantum circuits to reinforcement learning
– INOV: MULTICAM prototypes, an online presentation on Blockchain and 5000 followers
– Job Opportunities
Events & Training workshops

Read More »

19/05/2023: HUB Summer Meeting, Digital Europe Programme, Regional Innovation Valleys, European R&I funding and policy, and much more

In today’s Morning Brief:
Horizon Europe
– Commission Expert Group on the Interim Evaluation of Horizon Europe
– Commission launches first €122M call to create regional innovation ecosystems
– New calls for proposals of the Digital Europe Programme
Research & Innovation:
– EU research commissioner Mariya Gabriel resigns
– France to boost funding for health research infrastructures and UK to invest £100M in improving RIs
– Commission takes European Innovation Council management under its wing
– Industry 5.0 Award: The contest is open for applications
– AI Act moves ahead in EU Parliament with key committee vote
– Defence industry renews call for R&D spending boost
News from INESC institutes:
– Technology and Law: building a virtuous relationship, by Graça Barbosa
– The 2022 INESC-ID AnnualReport is out
– Exciting news from H2020-RESCUER
– Launch of the New Horizon Europe Project SYCLOPS
– INESC TEC supports the implementation of robotic technologies to reduce the ecological footprint
– INESC TEC develops virtual reality app to support youngster looking for jobs
– Job Opportunities
Events & Training workshops

Read More »

05/05/2023: HE calls update, cohesion policy, open access, open science, cohesion policy and coordination of national and EU R&D policy.

In today’s Morning Brief:
Horizon Europe
– Horizon Europe – easy call and topic search
– From KOWI: MSCA: Model Working Contract for Doctoral Networks published
Research & Innovation:
– Report on the outcome of 2021-2027 cohesion policy programming
– Spain adopts national open access strategy
– Commission attempts to strengthen coordination between national R&D policies and EU research programs
– Commission Plans to launch a European Standardisation Panel survey
– Research funders draw attention to uneven implementation of open science
– EIT Climate to become financially sustainable by end of 2024
– Preparing for Belgium’s Thirteenth Presidency of the Council of the European Union
– African Union-European Union High Level Policy Dialogue – Science, Technology and Innovation. Senior official meet to endorse the AU-EU Innovation Agenda
News from INESC institutes:
– INESC MN has a new publication in Advanced Materials Journal
– INOV projects on Youtube
– Diogo Vaz published an article in Público
– Job Opportunities
Events & Training workshops

Read More »