Welcome to today’s Morning Brief. The Morning Brief newsletter is available to INESC staff and affiliated researchers upon subscription (weekly or daily), after creating an account in the Private Area of the HUB website, or those who wish to subscribe. To do so, click the log-in icon on the top-right corner of this website or go to the Morning Brief page and click the subscribe button.

In this Morning Brief, we open with news that the EU and Japan underline close cooperation on energy issues, clean urban transition will be at the centre of this year’s edition of the Smart Cities Marketplace Forum, the Commission is inviting regions and communities to join the Mission Adaptation to Climate Change, EMDESK released a useful piece into finding partners in Horizon Europe, the Commission and the EIB agree to mobilise €500 million with new equity fund for blue economy, and more!  

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:

The EU and Japan underline close cooperation on energy issues

The EU and Japan are committed to work closely to address the current challenges on energy markets worldwide, Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson and Japan’s Minister for Economy, Trade and Industry Koichi Hagiuda emphasised in their meeting last Friday.

At a very constructive bilateral meeting in Brussels, both sides also underlined the importance of the green energy transition and a common ambition to be climate-neutral by 2050. In this context, the EU and Japan plan to agree this year a Memorandum of Cooperation on Hydrogen. Discussions towards finalising the agreement will continue in the coming months.

Read more here.

EU-Japan cooperation on energy issues.


Clean urban transition at the centre of the Smart Cities Marketplace Forum

The Smart Cities Marketplace Forum 2022, taking place in Brussels on 26-27 April, will look into the future of the Smart Cities Marketplace initiative to support a just and clean urban transition, taking into account the measures outlined in the Commission’s REPowerEU communication, and how these can accelerate the delivery of the European Green Deal at local level.

The event programme, which opens with a welcome and keynote speech by the European Commissioner for Energy, Kadri Simson, includes various sessions that examine innovative projects and solutions to tackle common challenges and build upon best practices on collaborations between public and private partners.

Participants will have the opportunity to network, exchange knowledge on the clean energy transition and find out more about funding and financing opportunities that contribute to upscaling smart city solutions.

The event is organised in collaboration with the Covenant of Mayors Office, the European Innovation Council and the Netherlands Enterprise Agency, among other partners.

Registration for the event is open until 24 April at 18.00.  


Europe needs a smarter way out of Russian gas

In this EURACTIV column, Nikos Tsafos, the James R. Schlesinger Chair in Energy and Geopolitics at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), writes that “The European commitment to phase out Russian natural gas is commendable. But it must be pursued sensibly. Otherwise, Europe could well trigger the very crisis it is trying to avert: very high prices and a physical shortage of gas. Europe should be bold about Russian gas. But it needs a broader set of tools to cut imports. The European plan to stop gas imports from Russia, REPowerEU, has a supply and a demand dimension. The demand side is robust: more renewables, efficiency, and alternatives for buildings and industry. Ambition can always be higher, but the basic contours fit neatly with the European Green Deal and the ‘Fit for 55’ package to lower greenhouse gas emissions. The problem is securing access to non-Russian natural gas. Europe wants to build new infrastructure to import liquefied natural gas (LNG), buy gas from exporters like the United States, and coordinate purchases among European firms to avoid unnecessary competition that raises prices. This is sensible. But the scale of Europe’s intervention is massive. Europe wants an additional 50 billion cubic meters (bcm) of LNG to offset the 155 bcm of Russian gas imported in 2021. The REPowerEU plan sets the 50 bcm targets for both 2022 and 2030. The March 25 statement with the United States referenced this figure too: “The European Commission will work with the EU Member States toward ensuring stable demand for additional US LNG until at least 2030 of approximately 50 bcm/annum.” Securing 50 bcm of LNG is a big undertaking. The LNG market was 523 bcm in 2021, and Europe imported 108 bcm (including the United Kingdom and Turkey). The combined LNG imports of Pakistan, Thailand, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Singapore, and Malaysia were 40 bcm in 2021. North and South America together imported 26 bcm. Buying 50 bcm of LNG from the existing system is no trivial matter. There is a new LNG supply expected through 2026, with the United States and Qatar being major growth centres. But there are also projects whose completion might be slow, including Europe’s number two LNG supplier in Russia. Demand for LNG is also growing: LNG is already going somewhere. The added demand from Europe could leave no room for others. This could push countries in Asia to turn to coal, which would be a climate disaster. The European gas system, meanwhile, needs more imports.”.


Commission invites regions and communities to join the Mission Adaptation to Climate Change

A survey is now available for regions and communities to express their interest in joining the Mission. Once the replies to the survey have been analysed, regions and communities that demonstrate commitment to adaptation will be invited to sign a Mission Charter.

The Mission’s objective is to support 150 regions and communities to accelerate their transformation towards climate resilience by helping them understand, prepare for and manage climate-induced risks.

Joining the Mission will put the regions and communities right at the forefront of innovation in Europe’s transition to becoming a more resilient continent.

The issue of adapting to the changing climate and becoming more resilient to its effects has gained very strong momentum, both at global and European level. The EU Adaptation Strategy sets out how we can better prepare for the unavoidable climate impacts and extreme weather events.

The EU Mission on Adaptation to Climate Change Mission contributes to putting the strategy in practice on the ground in EU regions and communities, as they are best placed to deploy tailor-made solutions that address their specific local climate vulnerabilities.

Read more here.


Practical insights into Horizon Europe partner search

Collaborative projects play a significant role in the Horizon Europe programme. Setting aside the significance of having a good idea for an EU research project, Horizon Europe partner search constitutes an equally important step. The truth is that good partners are integral in collaborative projects, and carefully selecting them will set your consortium for success. For this reason, organisations interested in getting EU funds should invest more in establishing good Horizon Europe partnerships for their consortia during the preparation phase.

Don’t miss this piece by EMDESK, exploring the benefits of finding the best project partners and presenting a couple of Horizon Europe partner search tools that can help in this search.


Workshop on Cancer Research, Biological & Molecular Basis, 11th Edition

Don’t miss this workshop, taking place 26-29 September of this year at the i3S – Instituto de Investigação e Inovação em Saúde.

This workshop is focused on Cancer Research addressing the key cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying cancer development and progression. i3S researchers with expertise in the different topics of cancer research will present theoretical and practical sessions. This cancer research workshop will focus on the state-of-the-art and address recent advances in the field as well as technical and methodological approaches.

Find out more information here.


BlueInvest: Commission and EIB agree to mobilise €500 million with new equity fund for blue economy

At the BlueInvest Days 2022 in Brussels, Commissioner Virginius Sinkevičius and European Investment Fund (EIF) Deputy Chief Executive, Roger Havenith have announced a new dedicated equity initiative for the blue economy under InvestEU. The initiative will mobilise an additional €500 million of EU funds for financial intermediaries investing in this sector. Commissioner Sinkevičius also announced that the European Commission’s successful BlueInvest initiative will continue beyond 2022 until 2026.

European Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius, responsible for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, praised the achievements of the BlueInvest initiative, which in the past 3 years has been highly successful in terms of getting hundreds of SMEs coached and matched with investors. The initiative has led to a large number of financing deals being signed, has strengthened the investment landscape for the blue economy, increased investor awareness and helped bridge the finance gap for blue technology SMEs and start-ups.

Read more here.


Webinar: Personnel costs for Legal & Financial NCPs

This webinar, taking place on the 21st of April, provides detailed information on personnel costs in Horizon Europe projects.

In the morning part, the European Commission will present the rules and principles. It will focus on types of personnel costs, forms, eligibility conditions, calculation, and record-keeping – both in a standard case and in project-based remuneration.

The afternoon part will be dedicated to one specific area of personnel costs, namely project-based remuneration and the different ways of identifying national reference rate. National Contact Points will share their experience and best practices from their respective countries.

Register here.


Eurobarometer: EU SMEs working towards sustainability

The 2022 edition of the Eurobarometer on small and medium enterprises (SMEs), resource efficiency and green markets published today, reveals that EU SMEs have already undertaken substantive actions to transition their business operations towards environmental sustainability.

In fact, 89% of SMEs are taking at least one of the actions listed in the survey to become more resource-efficient, for example by using predominantly renewable energy, recycling or minimising waste. Amongst other areas, the survey looks into the barriers SMEs encounter and the potential of policy measures to speed-up SMEs’ green transition. These results will feed into the Commission’s efforts to help SMEs become greener, in line with the SME strategy and the updated EU Industrial Strategy.

The survey shows that 24% of EU SMEs already have a concrete plan in place to reduce the carbon-footprint of their business and that a third (32%) have green products in their product range. Compared to the 2018 edition of the Eurobarometer, SMEs are slowly improving their sustainability on most fronts. While this is a solid basis to start from, given the time pressure posed by the dynamics of climate change, the ongoing transition of SMEs needs to be boosted.

Read more here.


The 2nd set of calls under the Digital Europe Programme are now open!

The 2nd wave of calls under DIGITAL Europe Programme has been launched and the submission of applications is now open!

The new round of calls under the programme includes in particular a new call for proposals on Advanced Digital Skills Short term training courses. The aim of this action is to broaden and facilitate the workforce’s access to training on emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), cybersecurity, microelectronics, High Performance Computing (HPC) and many other.

As developments in these technologies are proceeding at a rapid pace, there is a need for constant updating of the supporting digital skills. The call aims at expanding the existing training offer and retrain existing workforce, with a particular focus on SMEs.

The submission of applications will close on 17 May 2022. You can find more detailed information in the call document.


EU climate policy has become key in securing peace, energy and independence

According to EURACTIV, “Supply insecurity, particularly of Russian gas and oil, is one of the consequences of Russia’s war against Ukraine. Not only is it pushing the pro-Ukrainian European Union to fight for energy independence, but also to continue its fight against global warming. “Energy security, economic security, national security, climate security: all these forms of security are inseparable. They are inextricably linked and they all require an acceleration of the transition to clean energy,” US Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm told a ministerial meeting held by the International Energy Agency (IEA) held on 23-24 March in Paris. “This transition to clean energy may well be the peace project of our time. Peace always comes after battle. So let’s devote ourselves to this project for peace, the commitment and the resources of a war effort. This is our Marshall Plan,” said Granholm, who called those fighting in Ukraine an “army of fighters for the climate”. The EU is thus fighting on all fronts for its security. The climate – no longer defended only by climate activists or environmental players – has now become a tool for the strategic autonomy of states and a vector of peace for Europeans. However, some fear that countries seeking to free themselves from Russian gas and oil may quickly return to fossil fuels, only from other destinations, which could put on hold transition to clean energy, the long-term answer to climate change.”.

More Articles