The European Parliament gave its consent to additional €200 million for Horizon 2020, the current EU research and innovation funding programme, by adopting a compromise on the mid-term review of the EU budget, reached with the EU Member States on 7 March. The final and formal approval of the Council of the EU is expected in the coming weeks. The €200 million top-up for Horizon 2020 is part of additional means amounting to €6 billion that will help the EU tackle urgent challenges such as the migration crisis, strengthening security, boosting growth and creating jobs.
Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said: “This is a very valuable deal that will allow the Commission to direct additional funding into key areas, such as boosting market-creating innovation as well as supporting excellent research, the sharing of big data and bridging the innovation divide between the countries in Europe.”
A part of the €200 million Horizon 2020 top-up, €50 million, was already adopted through the 2017 voted budget. The breakdown of the additional funding follows proportionally the Commission’s proposal of October 2016:
- €50 million for the European Research Council (of which €16.7 million were already included in the 2017 budget)
- €55 million for Spreading Excellence and Widening Participation part of Horizon 2020 (of which €16.7 million were already included in the 2017 budget)
- €50 million for the European Innovation Council (on the RTD budget line Innovation in SMEs)
- €45 million for High Performance Computers, under Leadership in Enabling and Industrial Technologies part of Horizon 2020 (of which €16.7 million were already included in the 2017 budget)
The European Commission has today selected 189 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) from 26 countries for a total of €8.7 million of funding under the latest round of the Horizon 2020 SME Instrument. The funding – €50,000 per recipient – will finance feasibility studies for new products.
The SMEs can also ask for up to three days of free business coaching. Among the projects receiving funding are a technology to turn residue from the wheat milling process into biodegradable packaging, a robotic inspection and cleaning system for solar panels, a low energy technology to capture CO2 from gasses, and a cost-reducing train maintenance system for early detection of wheel defects.
Since the launch of the programme on 1 January 2014, 1473 SMEs have been selected under Phase 1 of the SME Instrument. The SME instrument is implemented through one continuously open call with cut-offs four times a year. The funding is €50,000 under Phase 1 and up to €2,5 million under Phase 2. The next cut-off for Phase 1 is 3 May 2016.
For more information, please visit the EC’s webpage.Read More
The Commission is looking for empirical evidence, studies and concrete feedback on:
- Water as a key resource for economic growth and well-being of the EU;
- Cost/benefit analysis of the proper implementation of the EU water acquis;
- How to maximise the economic benefits of water by identifying its most efficient uses.
It is expected that the outcome of this consultation will provide information, data and other evidence on the role of good quality water for a sound economic growth in the EU. The call for evidence runs until 11 March 2016 and has two objectives: a) identify and collect existing knowledge (i.e. studies, research), evidence and data on the economic benefits of EU water policy and the costs of non-implementation b) collect opinions, ideas and suggestions on which areas of the “economics” of the EU water acquis should be further investigated by the European Commission.
The call for evidence is the second step in a process organised by the European Commission with a view to launching an open call for tenders for contracting a study on the economic benefits of EU water policy and the costs of non-implementation, which aims at generating new and solid economic arguments to promote effective protection and efficient use of water resources for the well-being of European nature and citizens. All individual experts, stakeholders, organisations, research centers, universities, think-tanks with expertise in water economics are welcome to contribute to this consultation.
To read more, please visit the European Commission’s website.
On 2nd of December, the European Commission presented a new Circular Economy Package to stimulate Europe’s transition towards a circular economy, which will boost global competitiveness, foster economic growth and generate new jobs. According to the EC, the proposed actions contribute to “closing the loop” of product lifecycles through greater recycling and reuse, bringing benefits to both the economy and the environment.
First Vice-President Frans Timmermans, responsible for sustainable development, said: “Our planet and our economy cannot survive if we continue with the ‘take, make, use and throw away’ approach. We need to retain precious resources and fully exploit all the economic value within them. The circular economy is about reducing waste and protecting the environment, but it is also about a profound transformation of the way our entire economy works. By rethinking the way we produce, work and buy we can generate new opportunities and create new jobs. With today’s package, we are delivering the comprehensive framework that will truly enable this change to happen. It sets a credible and ambitious path for better waste management in Europe with supportive actions that cover the full product cycle. This mix of smart regulation and incentives at EU level will help businesses and consumers, as well as national and local authorities, to drive this transformation.”
The Circular Economy Package gives a clear signal to economic operators that the EU is using all the tools available to transform its economy, opening the way to new business opportunities and boosting competitiveness. The broad measures for changing the full product lifecycle go beyond a narrow focus on the end-of-life stage and underline the Commission’s clear ambition to transform the EU economy and deliver results. Innovative and more efficient ways of producing and consuming should increasingly emerge as a result of the incentives we are putting in place. The circular economy has the potential to create many jobs in Europe, while preserving precious and increasingly scarce resources, reducing environmental impacts of resource use and injecting new value into waste products. Sectoral measures are also set out, as well as quality standards for secondary raw materials. Key actions adopted on 2nd of December or to be carried out under the current Commission’s mandate include:
- Funding of over €650 million under Horizon 2020 and €5.5 billion under the structural funds;
- Actions to reduce food wasteincluding a common measurement methodology, improved date marking, and tools to meet the global Sustainable Development Goal to halve food waste by 2030;
- Development of quality standards for secondary raw materialsto increase the confidence of operators in the single market;
- Measures in the Ecodesign working plan for 2015-2017to promote reparability, durability and recyclability of products, in addition to energy efficiency;
- Arevised Regulation on fertilisers, to facilitate the recognition of organic and waste-based fertilisers in the single market and support the role of bio-nutrients;
- A strategy on plastics in the circular economy, addressing issues of recyclability, biodegradability, the presence of hazardous substances in plastics, and the Sustainable Development Goals target for significantly reducing marine litter;
- A series of actions on water reuseincluding a legislative proposal on minimum requirements for the reuse of wastewater.
Additional information is available in the EC’s press release.Read More
141 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) from 24 countries have been selected for funding in the latest round of Horizon2020 SME Instrument, for Phase 1. For each project, the participants will receive € 50,000 to finance feasibility studies for new products that can disrupt the market. They can also ask for up to three days of business coaching. The European Commission received 1873 proposals under Phase 1 by 17 September 2015, the third cut-off date for this year.
Italian SMEs were particularly successful with 30 beneficiaries accepted for funding, followed by firms from Spain (24) and the UK (15). Since the launch of the programme on 1st January 2014, 1099 SMEs have been selected under Phase 1 of the SME Instrument.
The results for the second phase of the SME Instrument, where companies get funding up to € 2.5 million to make their products ready for the market, will follow around mid-November 2015.
Source and more information on the Horizon 2020 website of the European Commission.Read More
This week, a delegation of the key European water-related organisations met with the cabinet of Commissioner Bulc for Transport to discuss the importance of transport policy for sustainable water management.
Sustainable transport is essential for Europe’s economic recovery. Waterborne transport is considered to be an energy efficient, safe, and sustainable mode of transport. Waterways accommodate multiple functions, such as water supply, flood mitigation, biodiversity, and navigation. A systemic approach is needed to accommodate all these ecosystem services on and around waterways, taking into account climate aspects. The opportunity to move to a more systemic approach to waterways emerges due to the upcoming efforts to replace ageing waterway infrastructures.
As a leading player in waterborne transport policy in the European Union, DG Transport has a key role to play in achieving a systemic approach to waterways management in coordination with other relevant policy DGs, such as DG Environment, DG Regional Policy, DG Agriculture, DG Climate Action, and DG Research & Innovation. Sharing best practices on systemic approaches to inland waterways management will be a first step.
With 90% of the global economic activity dependent on water, protection of this key resource is highly relevant to Juncker’s top priority to boost jobs growth, and investment. Water is also a transversal issue that can highly benefit from President Juncker’s ambition to overcome silo mentalities and promote ‘cooperation across portfolios to produce integrated, well-grounded and well-explained initiatives’.
The ‘Key priorities for water under the Juncker Commission’, released in September 2014, provided the basis of the discussion between the Water Alliance delegates and the cabinet of Commissioner Bulc.
For further information, please contact Durk Krol.Read More
In an attempt to help countries and regions identify the areas they need to address, the annual Innovation Union Scoreboard provides a comparative assessment of the research and innovation performance of the EU Member States.
This year the European Commission’s Innovation Union Scoreboard reveals that the EU’s overall level of innovation has remained stable. However, the crisis has left an impact on the private sector’s innovative activity: the number of innovative firms is in decline, as are SMEs’ innovations, patent applications, exports of high-tech products, venture capital investments and sales of innovative products. While there have been improvements in human resources, business investments in research and development and the quality of science, these are not enough to result in a stronger innovation performance.
According to the Scoreboard, Sweden followed by Denmark, Finland and Germany are the “Innovation Leaders” with innovation performance well above that of the EU average, while Malta, Latvia and Bulgaria are considered to be the fastest growing innovators. Compared to 2014, innovation performance has increased in 15 EU countries, while it declined in 13 others.
To learn more, please visit the EC’s website.Read More
EU Key Water Organisations meet with European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven MIMICA
This week a delegation of the key European water-related organisations met with Neven MIMICA, European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, to discuss how the European Commission and the European water sector can collaborate in supporting the inclusion and achievement of the water-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Sustainable management of water is a key challenge for international cooperation and development, including amongst others universal access to drinking water and sanitation. In addition, water appears in a cross-cutting manner across many policy fields such as food security, energy policy, climate change, and extreme events, while at the same 90% of the global economic activity depends on water.
Commissioner Mimica said: “It is important to have water present as a stand-alone issue in the current formulation of the Sustainable Development Goals while at the same time acknowledge the important presence of water as transversal issue for many of the other SDGs”.
The ‘Key priorities for water under the Juncker Commission’, released in September last year, provided the basis of the discussion between Commissioner Mimica and the water sector. Because of its transversal nature, water is well-placed to serve as a vector for the Commission’s ambition to cooperate “across portfolios to produce integrated well-grounded and well-explained initiatives”.
Participants also discussed the importance of technological and social innovative solutions, knowledge exchange, as well as partnerships and capacity development. The EU water sector actors can serve as a catalyst for increased cross-sectorial cooperation (e.g. between international cooperation and research).
Over the next few weeks, the water sector will meet with other Commissioners to highlight the importance of water in their respective portfolios.Read More
This week a delegation of the key European water-related organisations met with Karmenu VELLA, the new European Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, to discuss water’s contribution to the new Agenda for Jobs, Growth, Fairness and Democratic Change.
With 90% of the global economic activity dependent on water, protection of this key resource is highly relevant to Juncker’s top priority to boost jobs growth, and investment. Water plays a major role in the EU Commission’s ambitions to establish a ‘resilient energy union with a forward-looking climate change policy’ and a ‘connected digital single market’ given the interdependencies between water, energy and food production, and the fact that the water infrastructure is a principal urban infrastructure. Innovative ICT solutions have a major role to play in addressing water challenges.
The ‘Key priorities for water under the Juncker Commission’, released in September last year, provided the basis of the discussion between Commissioner Vella and the representatives of the water sector. Participants discussed the amongst other importance of innovation for the implementation of water-related policies; integration of water issues into other policy areas, polluter pays principle and pollution control at source; improving the transparency of the cost of water and cost recovery; and the importance of water in the context of smart cities, eco-innovation, and the circular economy.
Over the next few weeks the water sector will meet with other Commissioners to highlight the importance of water in their respective portfolios.
The European Commission has released a broadband investment guide, which aims to help local, regional and national authorities to develop long-term development plans to bring fast internet to their communities. This is an update of the guide to broadband investment published in 2011, and developed by experts in the field with the contribution of the regions involved in the Engage Project (High Speed Broadband for Rural Europe) The handbook gives practical tips to support public authorities in the preparation of broadband investment projects, including those co-financed from the European Structural and Investment Funds and the Connecting Europe Facility.
European Commission Vice-President Neelie Kroes, in charge of the Digital Agenda stated: “This guide will help public authorities make the right choices and plan the right investments for their villages, towns and regions to go digital. State-of-the art broadband infrastructure will bring growth, jobs and new opportunities for all parts of Europe, in particular rural areas and other regions where there is not enough interest of private investors.
More detailed information available on Commission’s website.Read More