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In today's Morning Brief:

Research stakeholders against €316M proposed cut to 2022 Horizon budget

Member states want a proposed 2022 budget for Horizon Europe to be cut by €316 million, the EU Council has agreed on Wednesday. The European Commission’s initial proposal had allocated nearly €12.2 billion for the research and innovation programme. But member states were of the opinion that there was not enough demand for all the money to be spent next year and decided to backload the money to the end of Horizon Europe. Member states also propose the budgets for Digital Europe and InvestEU shrink by €50 million and €45.5 million respectively. The total cuts proposed for 2022 amount to €1.4 billion less than what the Commission had proposed in June.

“The EU Council chose to continue its intellectual and political suicide by cutting innovation funding while increasingly agreeing to policies that will require incredible innovation efforts,” said German MEP Christian Ehler in a statement published yesterday. Research and university associations in Brussels reacted with dismay at the proposal. Read more on Science Business.

 

EU suspends Swiss access to grants

Swiss researchers have been barred from applying for individual grants in future calls from the European Research Council (ERC), Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MCSA) and the European Innovation Council (EIC). “Until further notice”, Switzerland will be treated as a non-associated third country in the Horizon Europe research programme, the Swiss state secretariat for education, research and innovation announced on Wednesday. According to the European Commission, “All exploratory talks regarding the association of Switzerland to the next generation of EU programmes are currently on hold.”

This means that while researchers in Switzerland can still participate in Horizon Europe, their access to funding will be severely limited. An exception will be the researchers who already applied to the first ERC calls of the new framework programme – but under certain conditions. Read more on Science Business.

 

EU to raise R&D investments to reach climate goals

EU research and innovation programmes are set to contribute significantly to the European Commission’s lofty plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030, according to new legislation tabled to make the ‘Green Deal’ a reality. To make the plan work, the EU needs to invest heavily in research and development of new technologies. Von der Leyen said the EU will rely on its “most precious renewable in the world”, its scientific and technological prowess. “Europe has always been the continent of scientists and innovators,” she said.

The EU has allocated 35% of the funding available through Horizon Europe for green investments. A string of research partnerships and missions will also provide funding to develop new technologies needed in the green transition. In Horizon Europe, a research mission on smart cities aims to make 100 cities climate neutral by 2030. Research partnerships with industry and member states will provide funding for R&D in clean energy, a new generation of batteries and hydrogen. Around half of the budget allocated to global challenges and industrial competitiveness in Horizon Europe will be dedicated to these partnerships.

The EU will provide €10 billion of funding and the private sector partners will match that figure with at least an equivalent amount. Read more on Science Business.

 

Commission proposes new strategy to protect and restore EU forests

Today, the European Commission adopted the New EU Forest Strategy for 2030, a flagship initiative of the European Green Deal that builds on the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030. The strategy contributes to the package of measures proposed to achieve greenhouse gas emission reductions of at least 55% by 2030 and climate neutrality in 2050 in the EU. It also helps the EU deliver on its commitment to enhance carbon removals by natural sinks as per the Climate Law. By addressing the social, economic and environmental aspects all together, the Forest Strategy aims at ensuring the multifunctionality of EU forests and highlights the pivotal role played by foresters.

The Forest Strategy sets a series of concrete actions aimed at protecting, restoring and sustainably manage forests, and at ensuring the multifunctionality of EU forests. All the details of the Forest Strategy can be found here. The Commission has also published a Questions and Answers regarding the new strategy, and a factsheet, that we have uploaded on the Private Area (EU R&I policy > Green Deal).

 

Climate package: concerns about social and trade impact and the support of investors

As expected, the reactions to the climate package presented by the commission on Wednesday continue to pour in. France expressed “reservations” about the social consequences of extending the carbon market to the building and transport sectors. Other proposals in the Fit for 55 package seem to meet with consensus, however. Two key measures have particularly caught the government’s attention, starting with the carbon border adjustment mechanism (CBAM), which France has long been calling for.

German industry, on the other hand, watched the presentation of the Commission’s new package with concern: the sector’s interest is to  is to maintain the country’s industrial competitiveness in the face of rising carbon prices and avoid international trade frictions caused by the EU’s proposed new external carbon border tariff.

Nonetheless, climate-focused investors have warmly welcomed the Commission’s masterplan. “The EU is to be applauded for its level of ambition in these targets and for aspiring to be a pioneer on climate change – it certainly sets a strong template for other industrialised nations to follow,” said Mark Wade, Head of Sustainability Research and Stewardship at Allianz Global Investors. Sanjay Patnaik , who follows climate regulation at the Brookings think tank in Washington, said agreeing a single global cost of carbon would be hard for political leaders, but the EU idea could be “a way to adjust for some of those price differences”.

 

China launches a carbon trading scheme

Just two days after the announcement of the EU master package of climate laws, China launched its long-awaited emissions trading system today. China has hailed it as laying the foundations for what would become the world’s biggest carbon trading market, forcing thousands of Chinese companies to cut their pollution or face deep economic hits.

However, deep questions remain over the limited scale and effectiveness of China’s initial emission trading scheme, including the low price placed on pollution. More broadly, analysts and experts say much more needs to be done if China is to meet its environmental targets, which includes reaching peak emissions by 2030. Read more on Euractiv.

 

Digital Sovereignty at the core of the Industrial strategy debate

The disruption of international supply chains due to the pandemic has prompted EU policymakers to strive for independence from third countries in strategic areas of the economy, as highlighted in the updated Industrial Strategy.

The discourse on digital sovereignty, in particular, has picked up the pace following the cancellation in May of a public procurement procedure for the Barcelona Supercomputing Centre, highlighting Europe’s ideological differences on how to deal with foreign technology. The interventionist camp, led by France, would like to see the state play a stronger role in boosting domestic capacity by adopting protectionist practices if necessary. The liberal front, made up of Nordic countries and a handful of smaller member states, defends the principles of free trade, even if it means relying on technologies from abroad. Read more on Euractiv.

 

Webinar “On the road to HPC: Major Challenges and New Opportunities” (22 July)

UT Austin Portugal Program and the BigHPC consortium are organizing a webinar series throughout the second semester of 2021 into 2022 to spark discussion among academia and industry about the challenges around High-Performance Computing and the major opportunities that lie ahead for both sides. Sessions are intended to provide practical insights into HPC-related topics ranging from containerization technologies to scientific visualization, to HPC monitoring and data storage. The first webinar will take place on July 22, 2021 at 3 p.m. (Lisbon time) on Containerized Application Performance at Petascale. It will be moderated by  Ricardo Macedo, and will feature 3 speakers from the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC). Registration is available here. For more information on the webinar series, click here.

More Articles

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.

Read More »

30/05/2022: INESC TEC Workshop, EU Cancer Plan, Eurostat, Defunct Satellites, Hydrogen, and more.

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.

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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.

Read More »