Archive pour la catégorie ‘Energy’

The European Commission promotes eco innovation business

Jeudi 15 décembre 2011

Eco innovation is a priority of the Europe 2020 strategy.

The new Eco-Innovation Action Plan (EcoAP) will boost innovation that reduces pressure on the environment, and bridge the gap between innovation and the market. Eco-friendly technologies are good for business and help create new jobs, so eco-innovation is crucial to the economic competitiveness of Europe.

The EcoAP is one of the commitments of the Innovation Union Flagship Initiative, building on the 2004 Environmental Technologies Action Plan (ETAP). It expands the focus from green technologies to the broader concept of eco-innovation, targeting specific bottlenecks, challenges and opportunities for achieving environmental objectives through innovation. The EcoAP includes actions both on the demand and supply side, on research and industry and on policy and financial instruments. The Plan recognizes the key role of environmental regulation as a driver of eco-innovation and foresees a review of environmental legislation. It also stresses the importance of research and innovation to produce more innovative technologies and bring them to the market. The Plan also puts emphasis on the international aspect of eco-innovation, and on better coordination of policies with international partners.

The Action Plan will accelerate eco-innovation across all sectors of the economy with well targeted actions. To help create stronger and more stable market demand for eco-innovation, it will take measures in the areas of regulatory incentives, private and public procurement and standards and it will mobilise support for Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to improve investment readiness and networking opportunities.

Key aspects of the new Action Plan include:

- Using environmental policy and legislation to promote eco-innovation;
- Supporting demonstration projects and partnering to bring promising, smart and ambitious operational technologies to market;
- Developing new standards to boost eco-innovation;
- Mobilising financial instruments and support services for SMEs;
- Promoting international co-operation;
- Supporting the development of emerging skills and jobs and related training programmes to match labour market needs; and
- Promoting eco-innovation through European Innovation Partnerships

Next Steps
Implementation of the plan will be via partnership between stakeholders, private and public sector, and the Commission. The upcoming mid-term financial review will provide a good opportunity to assess the achievement of the goals set in this Action Plan. New efforts will focus on product development and demonstration activities to fill the gap between technology and market uptake.

Background
Eco-Innovation is any form of innovation resulting in or aiming at significant and demonstrable progress towards the goal of sustainable development, through reducing impacts on the environment, enhancing resilience to environmental pressures, or achieving a more efficient and responsible use of natural resources.

European eco-industries are a significant economic sector with an annual turnover estimated at EUR 319 billion, or about 2.5 % of EU GDP.

The European Commission proposes a roadmap for energy by 2050

Jeudi 15 décembre 2011

The objective of the EU is to reduce 80% CO2 emissions by 2050.

How to achieve this without disrupting energy supplies and competitiveness is the question answered by the Energy Roadmap 2050 the Commission is presenting today. Based on the analysis of a set of scenarios, the document describes the consequences of a carbon free energy system and the policy framework needed. This should allow member states to make the required energy choices and create a stable business climate for private investment, especially until 2030.

The analysis is based on illustrative scenarios, created by combining in different ways the four main decarbonisation routes (energy efficiency, renewables, nuclear and CCS). None is likely to materialise but all scenarios clearly show a set of “no regrets” options for the coming years.

The Energy Roadmap 2050 identifies a number of elements which have positive impacts in all circumstances, and thus define some key outcomes such as:

- Decarbonisation of the energy system is technically and economically feasible. All decarbonisation scenarios allow achieving the emission reduction target and can be less costly than current policies in the long-run.

- Energy Efficiency and renewable energy are critical. Irrespective of the particular energy mix chosen, higher energy efficiency and important rising shares of renewables are necessary to meet the CO2 targets in 2050. The scenarios also show that electricity will play a greater role than now. Gas, oil, coal and nuclear also figure in all scenarios in different proportions, allowing Member States to keep flexible options in their energy mix provided a well connected internal market is achieved quickly.

- Early Investments cost less. Investment decisions for the necessary infrastructure up to 2030 must be taken now, as infrastructure built 30-40 years ago needs to be replaced. Acting immediately can avoid more costly changes in twenty years. The EU’s energy evolution requires anyway modernisation and much more flexible infrastructure such as cross border interconnections, “intelligent” electricity grids and modern low-carbon technologies to produce, transmit and store energy.

- Contain the increase of prices. The investments made now will pave the way for the best prices in the future. Electricity prices are bound to raise until 2030, but can fall thereafter thanks to lower cost of supply, saving policies and improved technologies. The costs will be outweighed by the high level of sustainable investment brought into the European economy, the related local jobs, and the decreased import dependency. All scenarios get to decarbonisation with no major differences in terms of overall costs or security of supply implications.

- Economies of scale are needed. A European approach will result in lower costs and secure supply compared to national parallel schemes. This includes a common energy market which should be completed by 2014.

Background

The aim of the roadmap is to achieve the low-carbon 2050 objectives while improving Europe’s competitiveness and security of supply. Member States are already planning national energy policies for the future, but it is necessary to join forces in coordinating their efforts within a broader framework. The Roadmap will be followed by further policy initiatives on specific energy policy areas in the coming years, starting with proposals on the internal market, renewable energy and nuclear safety next year.

The EC published in March 2011 the overall decarbonisation roadmap covering the whole economy. All sectors – power generation, transport, residential, industry and agriculture –were analysed. The Commission has also been preparing sectoral roadmaps, among which the Energy Roadmap 2050 is the last one, focusing on the whole energy sector.

The European Commission presents the new LIFE programme

Lundi 12 décembre 2011

The new program for 2014 will be more flexible and will have a larger budget.

New aspects of the future LIFE Programme include:

- Creation of a new sub-programme for Climate Action;
- Clearer definition of priorities with multi-annual work programmes adopted in consultation with the Member States;
- New possibilities to implement programmes on a larger scale through “Integrated projects” which can help mobilise other EU, national and private funds for environmental or climate objectives.

The sub-programme for Environment will support efforts in the following areas:

- “Environment and Resource Efficiency” will focus on more innovative solutions for better implementation of environment policy and integrating environmental objectives in other sectors;
- “Biodiversity” will develop best practices to halt biodiversity loss and restore ecosystem services, while keeping its primary focus on supporting Natura 2000 sites, especially via integrated projects consistent with Member States Prioritised Action Frameworks (as described in the Commission’s new paper on Financing Natura 2000);
- “Environmental Governance and Information” will promote knowledge sharing, dissemination of best practices, and better compliance, in addition to awareness raising campaigns.

The sub-programme for Climate Action covers the following areas:

- “Climate Change Mitigation” will focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions;
- “Climate Change Adaptation” will focus on increasing resilience to climate change;
- “Climate Governance and Information” will focus on increasing awareness, communication, cooperation and dissemination on climate mitigation and adaptation actions.
Grants to finance projects will remain the Programme’s main type of intervention. Operating grants for NGOs and other bodies will still be possible, and there will also be scope for contributions to innovative financial instruments.

LIFE will adopt lighter and more flexible procedures.

Next Steps
The Commission hopes that the proposals will complete their passage through the European Parliament and the Council in time for the next programming period (2014-2020).

Background
The LIFE Programme is part of the Commission proposal for the Multiannual Financial Framework for 2014-2020, which sets out the budgetary framework and main orientations for the Europe 2020 Strategy. The Commission decided to address environment and climate action as an integral part of all the main instruments and interventions and in addition to the “mainstreaming” approach, it proposes to continue the LIFE Programme currently regulated by the LIFE+ Regulation. Combining mainstreaming with a specific instrument is designed to increase the coherence and added-value of the EU intervention.

Launched in 1992, the LIFE Programme is one of the spearheads of EU environmental funding. It has financed over 3,500 projects, contributing EUR 2.5 billion to environment protection. LIFE+, which started in 2007 and runs until 2013 with a budget of just above EUR 2.1 billion, mostly finances grants (these cover 78 % of the LIFE+ budget).

LIFE has played a significant role in the implementation of major EU environmental legislation such as the Habitats and Birds Directives, and the Water Framework Directive. The proposals for the new programme build upon evaluations of previous experience, and the results of recent public consultations. These show that eco-innovation projects in the area of climate change, water and waste have been most successful in achieving direct environmental benefits.

FP7 supports a marine renewable energy

Vendredi 9 décembre 2011

The MARINET initiative (”Marine renewables infrastructure network”) has a budget of 9 million euro.

Led by researchers at the Hydraulics and Maritime Research Centre (HMRC) at University College Cork in Ireland, the project, funded as part of the ‘Infrastructures’ Theme of the EU’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), will allow companies to carry out renewable energy testing at these centres at no extra cost.

The MARINET project, which launches its call for proposals this month and will run until 2015, will help remove some of the financial barriers that sometimes stand in the way of access to world-class European testing facilities. Under MARINET, companies and research groups will have access to facilities outside their own country. Testing will focus on checking concepts and devices in areas such as wave energy, tidal energy, offshore-wind energy and the environment. It is hoped that this project will play a part in accelerating widespread development of marine renewable energy.

Offshore renewable conversion systems are mostly at the pre-commercial stage of development. They comprise wave energy and tidal stream converters as well as offshore wind turbines for electrical generation. These devices require research to be undertaken at a series of scales along the path to commercialisation.

Each technology type is currently at a different stage of development, but each one also needs specific research infrastructures to facilitate and catalyse commercialisation. The aim of this project is to coordinate research and development at all scales (from small models through to prototype scales, from laboratory through to open sea tests), and to allow access for researchers and developers to facilities that are not universally available in Europe.

The MARINET network is made up of 42 testing facilities at 28 research centres in 11 European countries as well as in Brazil. By linking these marine renewable-energy testing facilities and using an agreed testing framework, this initiative now provides a clear path to commercialisation: it allows allowing users to seamlessly progress their device through each phase of testing. All participating centres will use common standards, conduct research to improve their own testing capability and provide training to enhance expertise in the field.

This focus on commercialisation is in line with the Commission’s objective to speed up the rate of research outcomes reaching the marketplace.

Over the course of the project, at least four calls for applications will be made. Potential users, who must work in an EU Member State or an associated Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) country, can now apply to access the facilities as part of this first call.

The Irish facilities, for example, will be based at HMRC, part of the new Irish Maritime and Energy Resource Cluster (IMERC) which was launched recently by the Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny. There will be wave tank and electrical testing facilities located in Cork, and through the Galway Bay and Belmullet energy test sites of the Ocean Energy Development Unit (OEDU) of the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), County Mayo will form part of the facilities on offer too.

Professor Tony Lewis from the HMRC warns companies not to miss out on this opportunity, and urges them to apply for the funding to access these facilities.
‘MARINET offers a unique opportunity to access these world-class European test facilities in order to validate and progress concepts at any stage of development, and to ultimately harness the untapped renewable energy resources that are abundant around the European coastline. This is a great opportunity to advance marine renewable research testing and commercial development.’

The other countries participating in the project are Belgium, Brazil, Denmark, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, and the United Kingdom.

The Commission proposes a reduction of vehicle noise

Vendredi 9 décembre 2011

The Commission proposes to reduce these nuisances in two stages

Noise limit values would be lowered in two steps of each 2 dB(A) for passenger cars, vans, buses and coaches. For trucks the reduction would be 1 dB(A) in the first step and 2 dB(A) in the second step. The first step is to apply two years after the publication of the text once approved by the EP and Member States and the second step is foreseen three years thereafter. Altogether, these measures will reduce vehicle noise nuisance by some 25%. In addition, the Commission intends to introduce a new and more reliable test method to measure sound emissions. Moreover it is proposed that electric and hybrid electric vehicles can be fitted optionally with sound generating devices which would make these cars safer. Noise emissions limits have not changed since 1996 despite increasing traffic.

The World Health Organisation concluded that traffic related noise may account for 1 million healthy years of life lost per year in Western Europe. Hence, reduction of traffic noise is essential to improve the health and quality of life of Europe’s citizens.

Today’s proposal will significantly reduce the levels of environmental noise and consequently the number of people affected by it.

Background
New noise limits measured with a new test method
The proposal on reducing vehicle noise includes passenger cars, vans (light commercial vehicles), buses, light trucks, coaches and heavy trucks. It will ensure that the noise levels of new vehicles will be measured by a new and more reliable test method.

To this end, so-called additional sound emission provisions (ASEP) will be included. These are preventive requirements which will ensure that the sound emissions of a vehicle under street driving conditions will not differ significantly from what can be expected from the type-approval test result for this specific vehicle.

Electric and hybrid electric vehicles
So-called ‘Approaching Vehicle Audible Systems’ requirements shall ensure that only adequate sound generating devices are used which will also lead to a harmonisation of the applied technology. The fitting as such would remain an option for the vehicle manufacturer. This will increase road safety and undoubtedly help avoiding road-accident injuries.

A global benefit
Having the same basic rules throughout the EU makes it easier to buy, sell and use vehicles in any Member State – and ensures equal health, safety and environmental standards across the EU.

With this proposal the current EU rules applicable to noise emissions from vehicles will be updated and further aligned with internationally recognised UN standards. This should enable to improve market access for European car manufacturers in those third countries which are contracting parties to the UNECE Agreement of 1958 and thus boost the competitiveness of European industry.

The proposal of the European Commission is now to be submitted to the European co-legislators, the European Parliament and to the Council.

European Council and Signing of the Accession Treaty with Croatia

Jeudi 8 décembre 2011

The leaders will discuss the economic strengthening of the eurozone, energy and the enlargement of the European Union.

EU leaders will review the overall economic situation in Europe and measures to boost growth and jobs.
They will consider proposals to monitor draft budgets and cut deficits for all eurozone countries – with even tighter economic and budget surveillance for countries facing serious financial instability or needing bail-outs.

Treaty change

Leaders will also examine the potential benefits of joint eurozone bonds, for instance whether they would help reduce and stabilise the interest rates countries have to pay to borrow money.
The Commission has put forward 3 options for these so-called stability bonds , with an analysis of financial and legal implications. An amendment to the EU’s Lisbon Treaty – which governs how the Union functions – might be required.

Energy plan

Safe, secure, sustainable and affordable energy is high on this European Council’s agenda.
Leaders will consider energy-saving and efficiency measures that would set legally binding requirements for EU countries to improve energy efficiency at all stages – production, distribution and final consumption.
This would provide significant financial, economic and employment benefits – and help consumers reduce their energy bills.
EU leaders have also called for a single energy market by 2014, enabling energy to be bought and sold more freely across national borders. An open market with smart, integrated infrastructure would be more competitive.

New EU members

Also on the table is the possibility of admitting new countries into the EU, a plus for the Union’s strategic interest, security and prosperity. The Commission has recommended that negotiations be opened with Montenegro. It has also proposed granting EU candidate status – the first step in the process – to Serbia.
Meanwhile, Croatia is in the final stages of becoming the EU’s 28th member. The EU concluded negotiations in June, paving the way for the signature of the accession treaty on 9 December.
Croatia will soon hold a referendum to decide if the country will join the EU on 1 July 2013.

The European unit Patent moves forward

Vendredi 2 décembre 2011

The European patent for improving European competitiveness was approved by the Committee on Legal Affairs and the negotiators of the Council Presidency

MEPs succeeded in adapting the proposed regime to small firms’ needs, but the deal still needs to approved by Parliament as a whole and the 25 EU Member States involved.

Parliament’s rapporteurs struck a political agreement with the Polish Presidency of the Council on the three proposals (unitary patent, language regime and unified patent court) that form the “EU patent package”. The agreement will have now to be confirmed by both the Parliament (after a vote in committee) and the Council. The regulation should enter into force in 2014.

The aim of creating an EU patent is twofold. First to reduce current patenting costs by up to 80%, so as to improve the competitive position of EU firms vis-à-vis their counterparts in the US and Japan, where patents are substantially cheaper. Second, it should help to avoid the legal confusion created when dealing with differing national patent laws.

MEPs aim to cut costs for small firms

The first piece of legislation in the package is a regulation setting up a unitary patent protection system. The agreed text largely reflects the Commission proposal, and in particular a provision allowing inventors from countries currently outside the procedure to apply for an EU patent.

Specific provisions have been introduced to ensure that small firms benefit from reduced costs and a sound system for distributing patent renewal fees. (Renewal fees account for a big share of total costs, and the economic sustainability of the system as a whole depends upon them).

What language for EU-wide patents?

The proposed regime for translating EU patents would make them available in German, English and French, although applications could be submitted in any EU language. Translation costs from a language other than the three official ones would be compensated.

Enforcing protection

An international agreement is currently being negotiated by Member States participating in the procedure to create a unified patent court so as to reduce costs and uncertainty as to the law due to differing national interpretations.

Greater competitiveness for the European automotive

Vendredi 2 décembre 2011

The CARS 21 Group makes recommendations to help the European automotive industry to the crisis and the Asian competition

The report calls for ensuring level playing field for the EU industry worldwide. Free Trade Agreements should aim at full tariff dismantling and removal of non-tariff barriers. Moreover, all relevant stakeholders should advocate the introduction of a world wide system for the approval of vehicles in the 1958 UNECE Agreement (which ensures international harmonisation of vehicle regulations).

In addition, the report recommends limiting vehicle noise, a more “real-world driving” measurement procedure for emissions and fuel consumption as well as an appropriate methodology for evaluating the CO2 emissions of heavy-duty vehicles. Member States should better coordinate financial incentives to enable large scale production of clean vehicles. Therefore incentives should be based on objective and commonly available performance data. The group also calls for a portfolio of alternative fuels and the related infrastructure to be deployed.

Background
Today’s gathering several Ministers, CEOs, Commissioners and other prominent stakeholders endorsed an interim report which will be further developed at the end of the process in spring 2012 representing a full-fledged EU strategy for the European automotive industrial sector in 2020 and beyond. Today’s Interim Report focuses on the actions needed to maintain a competitive manufacturing base in Europe and to ensure the development of sustainable technologies.

The CARS 21 High Level Group on the competitiveness and sustainable growth of the automotive industry in the EU was re-launched on 10 November 2010 (IP/10/1491), based on Commission Decision of 14 October 2010. It gathers prominent representatives of the EU Member States, other institutions, automotive industry, Trade Unions, NGO, users and the Commission.

The CARS21 process is built on a three-level structure:

- the High Level Group (Ministers, CEOs and Presidents of associations, etc.)
- the “Sherpa” group responsible for preparing the input to the HLG
- the Working groups, responsible for specific topics to be tackled at technical experts level.
In addition, a public hearing has been organised on 13 May 2011 in order to gather input from additional interested stakeholders.

The European automotive industry is a key sector for the European economy, providing over 12 million jobs and a positive contribution to the trade balance of around € 70 billion, which is essential for continued European prosperity.

The European Commission presents its new Horizon 2020 programme

Mercredi 30 novembre 2011

The Commission today presented a financial instrument of 80 billion euros for research and innovation

Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn has announced Horizon 2020, an €80 billion1 programme for investment in research and innovation. Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou has put forward a Strategic Innovation Agenda for the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), which will receive €2.8 billion of funding under Horizon 2020. In parallel, Vice-President Antonio Tajani has announced a complementary new programme to boost competitiveness and innovation in SMEs, with an additional budget of €2.5 billion. The funding programmes run from 2014 to 2020.

For the first time, Horizon 2020 brings together all EU research and innovation funding under a single programme. It focuses more than ever on turning scientific breakthroughs into innovative products and services that provide business opportunities and change people’s lives for the better. At the same time it drastically cuts red tape, with simplification of rules and procedures to attract more top researchers and a broader range of innovative businesses.

Horizon 2020 will focus funds on three key objectives. It will support the EU’s position as a world leader in science with a dedicated budget of €24.6 billion, including an increase in funding of 77% for the very successful European Research Council (ERC). It will help secure industrial leadership in innovation with a budget of €17.9 billion. This includes a major investment of €13.7 billion in key technologies, as well as greater access to capital and support for SMEs. Finally, €31.7 billion will go towards addressing major concerns shared by all Europeans, across six key themes: Health, demographic change and well-being; Food security, sustainable agriculture, marine and maritime research and the bio-economy; Secure, clean and efficient energy; Smart, green and integrated transport; Climate action, resource efficiency and raw materials; and Inclusive, innovative and secure societies.

Background
Horizon 2020 is a key pillar of Innovation Union, a Europe 2020 flagship initiative aimed at enhancing Europe’s global competitiveness. The European Union is a global leader in many technologies, but it faces increasing competition from traditional powers and emerging economies alike. The Commission proposal will now be discussed by the Council and the European Parliament, with a view to adoption before the end of 2013.

Funding provided by Horizon 2020 will be easier to access thanks to this simpler programme architecture, a single set of rules and less red tape. Horizon 2020 will mean: drastically simplified reimbursement by introducing a single flat rate for indirect costs and only two funding rates - for research and for close to market activities respectively; a single point of access for participants; less paperwork in preparing proposals; and no unnecessary controls and audits. One key goal is to reduce the time until funding is received following a grant application by 100 days on average, meaning projects can start more quickly.

The Commission will make major efforts to open up the programme to more participants from across Europe by exploring synergies with funds under the EU’s Cohesion policy. Horizon 2020 will identify potential centres of excellence in underperforming regions and offer them policy advice and support, while EU Structural Funds can be used to upgrade infrastructure and equipment.

€3.5 billion will be devoted to a scaled up and expanded use of financial instruments that leverage lending from private sector financial institutions. These have been shown to be extremely effective at stimulating private investment in innovation that leads directly to growth and jobs. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will benefit from around €8.6 billion, recognising their critical role in innovation.

Horizon 2020 will invest nearly €6 billion in developing European industrial capabilities in Key Enabling Technologies (KETs). These include: Photonics and micro- and nanoelectronics, nanotechnologies, advanced materials and advanced manufacturing and processing, and biotechnology. Development of these technologies requires a multi-disciplinary, knowledge- and capital-intensive approach.

Under the Commission proposal, €5.75 billion (+21%) will be allocated to the Marie Curie Actions, which has supported the training, mobility and skills development of more than 50 000 researchers since its launch in 1996.

As an integral part of Horizon 2020, the EIT will play an important role by bringing together excellent higher education institutions, research centres and businesses to create the entrepreneurs of tomorrow and to ensure that the European ‘knowledge triangle’ is a match for the world’s best. The Commission has decided to significantly step up its support for the EIT by proposing a budget of €2.8 billion for 2014-2020 (up from €309 million since its launch in 2008). The EIT is based on a pioneering concept of cross-border public-private-partnership hubs known as Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs). Its three existing KICs, focused on sustainable energy (KIC InnoEnergy), climate change (Climate KIC) and information and communication society (EIT ICT Labs), will be expanded with six new ones in 2014-2020 (see IP/11/1479 and MEMO/11/851).

Funding for the European Research Council (ERC) will increase by 77% to €13.2 billion. The ERC supports the most talented and creative scientists to carry out frontier research of the highest quality in Europe, in a programme that is internationally recognised and respected.

International cooperation will also be further promoted in Horizon 2020, in order to strengthen the EU’s excellence and attractiveness in research, to tackle global challenges jointly and to support EU external policies.

The Joint Research Centre (JRC), the in-house science service of the European Commission, will continue providing scientific and technical support to EU policy making on everything from environment, agriculture and fisheries through to nanotechnology and nuclear safety.

Horizon 2020 will be complemented by further measures to complete the European Research Area, a genuine single market for knowledge, research and innovation by 2014.

European Commission launches its program for Earth observation

Mercredi 30 novembre 2011

The Commission has proposed a budget outside the financial framework of the EU of 5.8 billion euros for GMES

The Commission proposes to set up a specific GMES fund similar to the model chosen for the European Development Fund, with financial contributions from all 27 EU Member States based on their gross national income (GNI). This will require an intergovernmental agreement between the EU Member States meeting within the Council. The programme will be coordinated by the Commission and its financial management could be delegated to the Global Navigation Satellite System Agency (GSA).

Background
GMES – The European tool to contribute to security, fight against climate change and to boost competitiveness

With its “Sentinel” satellites GMES provides information which allows a better understanding of how and in what way our planet may be changing while monitoring the state of the environment on land, at sea and in the atmosphere. Mitigating climate change, responding to emergencies, insuring a better border control, improving the security and alerting citizens if air quality gets bad are activities that depend on precise and timely information on our Earth. GMES is delivering the necessary data, including maps for emergency operations, monitoring of climate change parameters, of ocean and sea temperature or chemical composition of the atmosphere. GMES is also relevant for improving security for citizens, such as border surveillance and fight against piracy and organised crime.

According to a cost benefit analysis, GMES is expected to deliver benefits worth at least twice the costs of investments for the period up to 2020 and four times the costs up to 2030. It represents a huge potential for economic growth and job creation with the development of innovative services and commercial applications in the downstream sector.

The European dimension of GMES leads to economies of scale, facilitates common investment in large infrastructures, fosters coordination of efforts and observation networks, enables harmonisation and inter-calibration of data, and provides the necessary impetus for the emergence of world-class centres of excellence in Europe.

Harmonisation and standardisation of the geospatial information at EU level is a major challenge for the implementation of a wide range of Union policies. Many areas of environmental concern – such as climate change mitigation and adaptation policies – require thinking globally and acting locally. With GMES, the EU is ensuring its autonomous access to reliable, traceable and sustainable information on environment and security, contributes through the GEOSS international initiative (Global Earth Observation System of Systems) to build global observational datasets and information and increases its influence in international negotiations and treaties such as the three Rio Conventions, the post-Kyoto Treaty, and other bilateral or multilateral agreements. GMES is recognised as the European contribution to building the Global Earth Observation System of Systems, developed within the framework of the Group on Earth Observations (GEO).

The Commission indicated that given the limits of the EU budget, it was proposed to fund GMES over 2014-2020 outside the multi-annual financial framework. Nevertheless, the Commission is still committed to ensuring the success of GMES, and in this context, today’s communication will launch the debate with the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee, and the Committee of the Regions on the future of the GMES programme.