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In today's Morning Brief:

Launch of Horizon Europe work programmes postponed to late May

The European Commission has yet again delayed the adoption date of Horizon Europe work programmes, leaving researchers and MEPs to worry about a potential funding gap. The work programmes were due to be published in March, then that deadline was pushed to April, and subsequently to the first half of May. Now, Commission officials confirmed the documents will not be available until the end of May, postponing once more their official adoption. Some commentators suggest the delay is down to row over excluding UK, Israel and Switzerland from space and quantum R&D. Read more about the delay here.

 

MEPs enquire about research partnerships in industrial strategy

Trade commissioner Thierry Breton was in the European Parliament on Monday to present the update to the EU’s industrial strategy. As part of the strategy, the EU is to launch new industrial alliances to develop microprocessors and semiconductor technologies, industrial data and cloud technology, space launchers and zero emission aviation. As related in this Science Business article, MEPs asked the commissioner to explain how the Commission can achieve technological autonomy without a clearer plan, and a stricter timeline for launching new technologies by 2030. Portuguese MEP and rapporteur for public private partnerships in Horizon Europe, Maria da Graça Carvalho said the Commission’s industrial strategy should include clearer links with the private and public partnerships planned within Horizon Europe, the EU’s research and innovation programme.

 

EIC freezes funds for start-ups

The EIC has unexpectedly halted new submissions from start-ups for the 16 June round of the 2021 €1 billion call for funding from the EIC Accelerator. Entrepreneurs who have planned but not yet submitted their pitches ahead of the 16 June cut-off date were left stranded as submissions closed without warning. While they can still apply, they will now have to wait until 6 October for the next chance to secure funding – a long-time for a struggling start-up. The reason for freezing submissions was timing, said Jean-David Malo, the director of EISMEA, the EU agency behind the fund. Flooded with applications, EIC realised it was not possible to evaluate all the proposals in time for those who were successful with their initial pitch to submit a detailed application before 16 June. More information and reactions can be read in this Science Business article.

 

EU-wide start-up scoreboard

According to ScienceBusiness, the EU Innovation Ecosystem leaders group says an annual start-up scoreboard is needed to track innovation performance across EU start-ups, representatives from around Europe. The group published an Action Plan to make Europe the new Global Powerhouse for Startups and handed it in person to Marya Gabriel, the EU R&I Commissioner.

 

Health Commissioner: EU cancer plan must ‘break the silence’ on women’s cancers

Reporting on a webinar participation from EU health commissioner Stella Kyriakides, Euractiv says, there is a large inequality of access to women’s cancer services and treatments across the EU, according to the bloc’s health chief, who highlighted the role of Europe’s Beating Cancer plan in bridging these disparities. Speaking during a webinar on Thursday (6 May), Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said there is a need to “break the silence” and talk openly about gynaecological cancers. The EU, she added, has “to assure that all women in all corners of the EU, get the support, have access to the screening and the vaccination, the information and the multidisciplinary care that they should be having”. Her hopes are on Europe’s beating cancer plan, which must bring “real change”. “This is what European citizens expect from us. And I also believe that we don’t have a right to fail them. We have an opportunity and we need to seize it,” Kyriakides said. Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan was set in 2020 to tackle the entire disease pathway, from prevention to treatment, with the goal to equalise access to high-quality care, diagnosis and treatment across the block.

 

IEA: Renewable energy to account for 90% of new power expansion post-COVID-19

According to EurActiv, after capacity additions continued to grow during 2020, the International Energy Agency (IEA) is forecasting that “exceptionally high” growth is likely to continue during this year and next. The Agency’s 2021 Renewable Energy Market Update, published this week, reveals that 280 GW of new renewable energy generation capacity was installed globally during the 2020 calendar year – a 45% increase in the amount installed during 2019. Renewable electricity generation and biofuel generation for transport are covered by these calculations. “Renewables were the only energy source for which demand increased in 2020 despite the pandemic, while consumption of all other fuels declined,” the report states, alluding to the IEA’s market updates on oil and gas.

 

EC Chemical Strategy: roadmap to revise REACH and CLP

This week, the Commission has published two Inception Impact Assessments (roadmaps), one on the revision of the CLP Regulation and one on the revision of the REACH Regulation. The new EU Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability requires a targeted revision of these Regulations. The roadmaps provide overall descriptions of the problems that need to be solved, possible options for how changing the two pieces of legislation may help to solve these problems as well as initial assessments of the potential impacts of such changes. The roadmaps are now open for stakeholder feedback until 1 June 2021. Next, the Commission will open a phase of open public consultations on the regulations.

 

New report on EU’s performance on the SDG 14 (Life under water)

Yesterday, the Commission releases a comprehensive assessment of the contribution of EU and its Member States to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goal 14. This study, the first of its kind, looks both at quantitative indicators as well as at the quality of progress achieved, of the a ‘SDG 14 toolbox’. The toolbox contains nearly 600 policy tools (170 at EU level and 417 at national level) that together form a coherent framework. On this basis, the EU and its Member States are taking strong action to improve the state of the marine environment, with achievements including the restoration of certain fish stocks and the establishment of marine protected areas. However, while the assessment does not identify significant gaps in the EU policy framework, most SDG 14 targets are currently not on track to be met by the agreed deadlines. In some areas, tangible results and impact have yet to emerge and some negative trends are far from being reversed, for example on ocean acidification or pollution of all kinds. In preparation to the next UN Ocean Conference in 2022, the EU plans to use the insights of the study to review its ocean agenda. The full report can be found here.

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