HORIZON BLOG: European R&D policy newsbytes

23 May 2024 | 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.

The European Commission has adopted a communication taking stock of the recent Clean Transition Dialogues with European industry and social partners, which will feed into discussions at the upcoming European Council meeting.

Commission President Ursula von der Leyen launched the dialogues in her 2023 State of the Union speech, as a way to support the implementation of the Green Deal and identify key barriers.

The conclusions include the importance of a simplified regulatory framework, action on energy prices, modern infrastructure, easier access to finance, and a stronger single market.

“My main takeaway is that Europe's decarbonisation must be increasingly driven by market forces, in addition to targets and regulation,” said Maroš Šefčovič, Executive Vice-President of the European Commission, who chaired the dialogues. “We need to keep strengthening the business case for the clean tech sector and for the decarbonisation of our energy intensive industry.”

 

Today, Australia and the European Union reaffirmed their 30 years commitment to science and technology cooperation.

However, despite years of close research collaboration Australia and EU are not moving the needle on a future association to Horizon Europe.

“From clean energy to health research, our partnership with Australia in science and technology has delivered tangible benefits to our people,” said EU research commissioner Iliana Ivanova. “Let us continue working together on sustainable solutions that will address the challenges of our times.”

Read the details of the 30 years of EU-Australia research collaboration here.

 

The Commission approved €2.2 billion German State aid measure to support the dercarbonisation of industrial processes and foster the transition to a net-zero economy under the Green Deal Industrial Plan.

The selected projects will receive direct grants. The German scheme aims to support industrial process electrification and enable the substitution of fossil fuels with renewable hydrogen or renewable hydrogen-derived fuels..

“This €2.2 billion scheme will support industries in investing further into the decarbonisation of their industrial processes. This will help accelerate the green transition. The measure will also help Germany to reduce its dependence on imported fossil fuels faster, in line with the REPowerEU Plan, while ensuring that potential competition distortions are kept to the minimum,” said Commission vice-president Margrethe Vestager.

Read the full announcement here.

 

As Switzerland is still waiting to achieve formal association to the Horizon Europe programme, the national Federal Council decided to allocate fundings to finance Swiss participants selected in the 2024 calls for proposals.

This allotment derives from the funding set aside by Parliament in late 2020 to support Switzerland's inclusion in the Horizon programme.

Read the full announcement here.

 

The Young European Research Universities Network (Yerun) published a position paper aiming to contribute on the vision and design of the next EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (FP10).

According to the group, FP10 should focus on three key priorities, including developing an attractive programme that prioritizes research and promoting equal opportunities for participation in the calls by simplifying processes and streamlining the flow of information in an understandable and user-friendly way.

Finally, Yerun calls for a bigger budget.

“Strengthening our R&I systems is the only way to deliver the technological and social innovation that we need,” reads the document. “For this reason, the budget of FP10 should be more ambitious than the current programme and be above €200 billion.”

Read the position paper here.

 

The European Union and India have launched an initiative inviting start-ups to work together on recycling batteries for electric vehicles.

This effort is part of the India-EU Trade and Technology Council announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and European Commission president  Ursula von der Leyen in April 2022.

The initiative aims to advance the circularity of rare materials and facilitate the transition towards carbon-neutrality in both India and the EU.

“The matchmaking event is a step-ahead to unlock innovative possibilities leading to a green and circular economy. We encourage innovators from the EU to seize this opportunity and explore potential collaborations with their Indian counterparts,” said Marc Lemaître, director-general for research and innovation at the European Commission.

Read the announcement here.

 

EARTO, an association of Europe's leading research and technology organisations welcomed the EU Council’s adoption of EU’s new regulation on critical raw materials.

The EARTO working group on critical raw materials stresses the need for systemic change, stable investment in research and innovation, and regular assessment of data to implement the lists of critical and strategic raw materials.

Additionally, EARTO highlights the crucial role of developing recycling technologies to efficiently utilize low-value waste for a more sustainable future.

Read EARTO’s position paper here.

 

Brussels and Uzbekistan have inked a memorandum of understanding to launch a partnership on critical raw materials, part of an attempt diversify supply to the EU as the bloc worries about overdependence on countries such as China.  

Uzbekistan has the second largest deposits of critical raw materials in central Asia, according to the EU, including sizable reserves of copper, molybdenum – used in alloys – and gold.  

The deal includes “cooperation on research and innovation, including the sharing of knowledge and technologies related to sustainable exploration, extraction, processing and recycling,” according to an EU statement.  

“This agreement with resource-rich Uzbekistan will help the EU to secure much-needed access to critical raw materials,” said trade commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis in a statement.  

Last Friday, the Commission authorised €350 million German State aid measure to support the production of up to 75,000 tonnes of ‘renewable’ hydrogen, an action that will help reduce Russian fossil fuel imports.

Projects selected through a competitive bidding process supervised by the European Climate, Infrastructure, and Environment Executive Agency (CINEA) will be supported via an “Auctions-as-a-Service” system within the European Hydrogen Bank. 

“This €350 million scheme is an important step in boosting renewable hydrogen development,” said Margrethe Vestager, Commission executive vice-president in charge of competition policy. “The scheme will support the most cost-effective projects in Germany, reducing costs for taxpayers and minimising possible distortions of competition.”

Read the full announcement here.

 

Science Europe, an umbrella body of major public funders and research organisations, has released a guide for its members to help them develop their ‘science for policy’ activities, meaning using evidence-based research to inform policies. 

“In an era of unprecedented global societal challenges, the role of scientific research in informing decision makers has never been more critical,” said Mari Sundli Tveit, president of Science Europe. “This guidance represents a milestone in our [Science Europe’s] ongoing efforts to improve science–policy interactions.”

Read the guide here.

 

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