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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.

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30/7/2021: New INESC e-magazine just published, input wanted on the Future of Europe, lump-sum in HE, new HE associations, synergies amendment to State Aid exemptions, EU quantum infrastructure, health data, and the shortage of semiconductors

In today’s Morning Brief:
– New INESC publication: first issue of H magazine “Visions of the future”
– Conference on the Future of Europe: input wanted
– Lump-sum in Horizon Europe – New EC Decision
– New round of Horizon Europe associations: Armenia, Georgia, Israel, Moldova, Western Balkans, Tunisia, Turkey and Ukraine
– Commission adopted the «Synergies amendment» to the State Aid General Block Exemption Regulation (GBER)
– EU members commit to build EU quantum communication infrastructure
– EuropaBio welcomes the Health Data Space initiative
– Solutions needed for to the shortage of semiconductors in Europe

Read More »

28/7/2021: Pre-draft of Model Grant Agreement, Consultation on Low-Carbon Technologies, funding for low carbon technologies, Science Europe on the new ERA, and costs for regulating AI

In today’s Morning Brief:
– Commission releases pre-draft of the Horizon Europe Model Grant Agreement
– Consultation on Low-Carbon Industrial Technologies Prospect
– EU announces €122 million for 32 projects developing low carbon technologies
– Research funding agencies want a greater say in shaping new ERA
– Study warns of compliance costs for regulating Artificial Intelligence

Read More »

27/7/2021: State aid exemptions, working group on offshore renewable energies, report on food systems, new steel&coal projects, EARTO on partnerships, and Spain funds more science missions

In today’s Morning Brief:
– State Aid exemptions: more money for research
– Commission launches call for expression of interest for working group on offshore renewable energies
– Report “Co-creating knowledge for food systems transformation”
– Approved 25 new steel and coal projects supporting the European Green Deal
– EARTO recommendations on European Partnerships
– Spain announces €141M for science missions in 2022

Read More »