HORIZON BLOG: European R&D policy newsbytes

07 Feb 2023 | Live Blog

Horizon Europe is well underway, but the world of European R&D policy goes well beyond the confines of the €95.5 billion R&D programme. EU climate, digital, agriculture and regional policies all have significant research and innovation components. National governments often come up with new R&D policies, decide to fund new research avenues, and set up international cooperation deals. This blog aims to keep you informed on all of that and more.

If you have any tips, please email them at [email protected].

You can read the full archive of this blog here.

 

France and Germany have called for fast-track subsidies to support key industrial sectors in Europe, amid concerns the EU is falling behind in global competitiveness and is weighed down by overly strict regulations. 

It comes after the US adopted the sweeping new $700 billion Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) that will, among other things, provide vast subsidies to support green technology

Finance ministers Bruno Le Maire of France and Robert Habeck of Germany wrote in a joint statement that they want targeted subsidies and tax credits for industry overseen by umbrella state aid programmes that would eschew the usual rigorous checks from the Commission. 

Both ministers are planning a trip to Washington in January to discuss the consequences of the IRA. 

An association representing sufferers of long-COVID in Europe has called on the EU to create a €500 million emergency fund to research the disease. 

At least 17 million people experienced long-COVID symptoms in Europe during the first two years of the pandemic, according to a report by the World Health Organisation published in September this year. 

It said there was an “urgent need for more analysis, more investment, more support, and more solidarity with those who experience this condition.” 

The call by Long-COVID Europe was made during an EU-US conference on long-Covid held on December 13

The Commission simultaneously published an opinion by an independent expert panel on the impact of long-COVID, which stated the need to embed research at all levels of care and rehabilitation.

The US announced in March this year $1 billion to research long-Covid over the next four years. 

Canada has announced the five partners that have won a CAD90 million (€62.2 million) call to help start-ups get professional intellectual property (IP) support over the next four years. 

It is part of the government’s ElevateIP programme, which partners business accelerators and incubators with start-ups to guide them in navigating IP rules and procedures. 

The five partners are:

  • Springboard Atlantic
  • Mouvement des accélérateurs d’innovation du Québec
  • Communitech Corporation
  • The Governors of the University of Calgary, in support of Innovate Calgary and Economic Development Lethbridge
  • Development Lethbridge

Each partner will support start-ups in different provinces and territories. 

The EU has joined 195 countries around the world in a global biodiversity framework agreed at the COP15 conference in Montreal, Canada, with the aim of restoring 30% degraded ecosystems globally by 2030, among other goals. 

The Kunming-Montreal agreement, sealed at the conclusion of COP15 yesterday (December 19), will accelerate restoration policies around the world and increase financing for biodiversity to $200 billion per year by 2030.

Virginijus Sinkevičius, European commissioner for environment, oceans and fisheries, described it as a “historic deal for the future of humanity on earth.” 

“This deal does the job on all fronts: it will restore 30% degraded ecosystems on land and sea by 2030 and will conserve 30% of the world’s marine and terrestrial areas,” he said. “It reduces risks from pollution, targets subsidies harmful to biodiversity, mobilises funds and brings businesses on board by ensuring they take responsibility.”

Lawmakers in the UK have criticised the government for imposing "unjustifiably high" visa costs on scientists looking to immigrate to the country.

The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee's conclusions echo complaints by universities, which say UK visa costs are much higher than for competitor nations. 

The committee, which has just concluded an inquiry into skills shortages in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, also recommended a range of other changes to the visa system, including allowing students at UK universities to stay in the country for five years after graduation. 

Australia has released a prospectus of 55 critical minerals projects it says are "investment ready". 

Critical minerals, such as lithium for batteries and rare earth metals for the magnets that power electric cars and wind turbines, are key to green technologies. The EU has repeatedly warned that is it highly dependent on China for supply, and is trying to diversify supply. 

"Australia has a skilled workforce, world-leading environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices and a transparent regulatory environment," the prospectus says. "These advantages put Australia in prime position to lead the exploration, extraction, production and processing of critical minerals."

The Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority (HERA) is investing €25 million to establish a laboratory network to boost EU preparedness and response against health threats and emergencies, the Commission has said.

The laboratory network, which will be developed as part of the DURABLE project, will be funded with money from the EU health programme EU4Health.

The idea behind it is to speed up and improve testing, identification, characterisation of pathogens and information exchange, with the final goal of helping decision-makers take the appropriate countermeasures.

The network “will help ensure that data and early signals of potential emerging health threats are available in real-time. [. . .] Having access to fast data and intelligence is crucial for the swift identification, development, and purchase of relevant medical countermeasures,” said Stella Kyriakides, EU health commissioner.

The laboratory network is part of the suggestions included in the HERA’s state of health preparedness report, published earlier in December. 

 

The EU and Thailand signed the a Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) at the ASEAN summit on 14 December in Brussels.

The agreement is aimed at strengthening bilateral relations and cooperation on environment, science and technology, climate change, energy, transport, trade, agriculture and other policy areas.

"The EU and Thailand are committed to working together in support of the rules-based international order as well as to advancing regional prosperity and stability,” said the EU High Representative Josep Borrell.

Before entering into force, the PCA must be ratified by EU member states and Thailand.

 

The EU and Singapore are set to sign off a new cross-cutting digital partnership early next year, the European Commission has announced. 

Cooperation areas will include trade facilitation, trusted data flows and data innovation, digital trust, standards, digital skills for workers, and the digital transformation of businesses and public services.

The new partnership is expected to help make supply chains more resilient and advance efforts on developing new technologies such as 5G/6G, artificial intelligence and digital identities.  

 

A new report by the European Commission maps out the potential for cooperation with southeast Asian countries on high performance computing. 

The report was released this week, as the EU meets the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) for a commemorative summit. It lays out existing facilities and capacities and considers setting up a joint roadmap for activities between the two regions in this strategic area for science.  

“At today’s #euasean Commemorative Summit we explored ways to work even closer in the future,” tweeted EU research commissioner Mariya Gabriel.  

 

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