Archive pour la catégorie ‘Industry’

What are the opportunities for European research?

Lundi 30 janvier 2012

A consultation on the European research shows the ways to make Europe more attractive for researchers, but also increasing transnationally-coordinated research; achieving higher scientific excellence; moving, working and co-operating freely across borders or tackling global challenges.

These are some of the key themes resulting from a public consultation on the European Research Area (ERA), which ended on 30 November 2011. The Commission will now decide which issues should be addressed as priorities when finalising the ERA Framework, to be tabled in June 2012 with a view to completing ERA by 2014. The findings were presented today by Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn at the “ERA conference 2012, Fostering Efficiency, Excellence and Growth” in Brussels.

Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn said: “With Europe crying out for growth, ERA can’t wait any longer. We can’t continue with a situation where research funding is not always allocated competitively, where positions are not always filled on merit, where researchers can’t take their grants across borders, where large parts of Europe are not even in the game, where there is a scandalous waste of female talent and where our brightest and best are leaving never to return. I want an entirely new ERA-partnership, with stronger role for key stakeholders, and much tougher monitoring of Member States’ progress. I will not hesitate to “name and shame” those who perform badly against ERA objectives.”

The European Commission received 590 responses to the on-line questionnaire and 101 ad hoc position papers by national and European research organisations and governments. Respondents to the online survey indicated deficiencies in research careers and mobility as the most urgent priority. This was followed by problems relating to research infrastructures, knowledge transfer and cross-border collaboration. A broad majority of respondents also highlighted that a higher involvement of women in science will contribute to European socio-economic growth. In position papers, cross-border collaboration, international cooperation, as well as open access to publications and data were on a similar footing to researcher-related issues.

One of the main messages from the research community is the need to attract and retain more leading researchers in Europe and to provide researchers with better and especially business-relevant skills. The global attractiveness of Europe as a location for researchers and private R&D investment should also be increased by reducing the fragmentation of the European market, and by improving employment and career prospects for researchers. The lack of open and transparent recruitment procedures is regarded as one of the main barriers to internationally mobile researchers. It is also necessary to coordinate research at transnational level to raise research quality, reduce costs and tackle global challenges.

Background

The Commission is engaging with stakeholders to design an ambitious ERA Framework. At the European Council of 4 February 2011, EU heads of state and government endorsed the Commission’s proposal to create Innovation Union and called for the completion of the European Research Area by 2014 to create a genuine single market for knowledge research and innovation. The ERA Framework will focus on non-funding measures, while Horizon 2020 is the financial pillar of the Innovation Union.

Proposed in January 2000 by the European Commission in its communication “Towards a European Research Area” (COM(2000)6), and launched at the Lisbon European Council in March 2000, the creation of a European Research Area (ERA) was given new impetus in 2007 with the European Commission’s Green Paper on ERA (COM(2000)161), followed by the Ljubljana Process in 2008.

A new look for CORDIS

Lundi 23 janvier 2012

The site offers a new database for its projects.

The European Union has some of the world’s best research facilities and most accomplished researchers. Harnessing their full potential will help turn novel ideas into jobs, green growth and social progress. To facilitate this, the European Commission finances, either wholly or partially, a wide range of individual research and technology development projects. Details about many of these can be found on the Community Research and Development Information Service (CORDIS) - the primary information source for EU-funded projects.

A new Projects Service, launched on 16 January 2012, will enhance the role of CORDIS. Designed not only to be a comprehensive reference point for project participants, coordinators and stakeholders, the service will also make information and data available to wider audiences.

CORDIS has project records covering a myriad of science, technology and research-related fields and topics. Dating from before 1986 to the present, they relate to not only the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), but also previous Framework Programmes. The new service will use the breadth of the CORDIS repository as a base to bring together a wide variety of information related to individual projects, including:
- project details such as description, funding, programme;
- project results such as documents, reports, summaries;
- links;
- publications;
- multimedia;
- information and details on project participants.

The new Projects Service will unlock content, standardise the presentation of project information, and help users to find out more.

Project records are added to the database once they are made available to CORDIS by the Commission service responsible. The new service provides tools and pointers that can help filter and facilitate search queries.

Even when a project has finished, specific project information can help with result development, the planning of new initiatives, the indication of new research avenues and more.

The European Parliament wants tighter controls for phytosanitary products

Jeudi 19 janvier 2012

The main objective is to reduce hazards on the environment and human health.

Safer sofas

The updated legislation closes a loophole so that treated products - such as furniture sprayed with fungicide or anti-bacterial kitchen worktops - will be included under the rules and labelled. Agricultural pesticides will continue to be covered by other EU legislation.

Restricting harmful substances

The most problematic substances - such as those that are carcinogenic, affect genes or hormones or are toxic to reproduction - should in principle be banned. Exceptions should only be made in Member States where strictly necessary, for example if a biocide is needed to safeguard against a specific danger to health. Approvals and renewals will be time-limited, while safer alternatives are developed.

Concerned about possible risks of nanotechnology, MEPs secured separate safety checks and labelling for products containing nano-sized materials.

Opening up the market

The new legislation further harmonises the EU market for biocidal products and sets deadlines for applications to be assessed. The recognition of approvals among Member States will be improved and the possibility to apply for authorisation at EU level will be phased in from 2013, becoming possible for most biocidal products by 2020.

Reducing animal testing

To avoid duplicating tests on animals, companies will be required to share data in exchange for fair compensation

The European Parliament tracks down the waste

Jeudi 19 janvier 2012

Parliament passed a resolution to halve the food wastage in Europe.

Since food is wasted at all stages - by producers, processors, retailers, caterers and consumers, MEPs call for a co-ordinated strategy, combining EU-wide and national measures, to improve the efficiency of food supply and consumption chains sector by sector and to tackle food wastage as a matter of urgency. If nothing is done, food wastage will grow 40% by 2020, says a study published by the Commission.

Better education to avoid excessive waste

To drastically reduce food wastage by 2025, new awareness campaigns should be run at both EU and national levels to inform the public how to avoid wasting food, says the resolution. Member States should introduce school and college courses explaining how to store, cook and dispose of food and also exchange best practices to this end. To promote the idea of using food sustainably, MEPs called for 2014 to be designated as “European year against food waste”.

Proper labelling and packaging

To avoid situations in which retailers offer food too close to its expiry date and thus increasing the potential for wastage, dual-date labelling could be introduced to show until when food may be sold (sell-by date) and until when it may consumed (use-by date), says the resolution.

It adds that the European Commission and Member States should nonetheless first ensure that customers understand the difference between labels currently used within the EU, such as the quality-related “best before” and safety-related “use by” dates.

To enable consumers to buy just the amounts they need, food packaging should be offered in a range of sizes and designed to conserve food better. Foods close to their expiry dates and damaged food products should be sold at discounted prices, to make them more accessible to people in need, MEPs say.

Public institutions should favour responsible caterers

Public procurement rules for catering and hospitality should be updated to ensure that where possible, contracts are awarded to catering companies that use local produce and give away or redistribute leftover food to poorer people or food banks free of charge, rather than just disposing of it.

EU-level support measures such as distributing food to least-favoured citizens or programmes encouraging consumption of fruit and milk in schools should also be retargeted with a view to preventing food waste, adds the resolution.

MEPs also welcomed existing initiatives in some Member States to recover unsold food and offer it to needy citizens and called on retailers to take part in such programmes.

Food wastage figures

Current wastage in EU27: 89 million tonnes per annum (i.e. 179 kg per capita)

Projection for 2020 (if no action is taken): 126 million tonnes (i.e. a 40% increase)

Responsibility for food waste:

- households: 42% (60% of which is avoidable)
- manufacturers: 39%
- retailers: 5%
- catering sector: 14%

The European Parliament wants better management of electronic waste

Jeudi 19 janvier 2012

In agreement with the Council, the European Parliament updates legislation on waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE).

Once Council formally approves the updated directive and it enters the EU lawbooks, Member States will have 18 months to update their national legislation.

Collection and recycling

All Member States must increase their collection of e-waste, regardless of whether they already meet the current flat-rate target of 4kg per person per year.

By 2016, most will have to collect 45 tonnes of e-waste for every 100 tonnes of e-goods put on sale three years previously. By 2019, this must rise to a rate of 65%, or alternatively they can collect a comparable figure of 85% of e-waste generated. Ten countries needing to improve their facilities will have an interim target of 40% and may take until 2021 to reach the final target.

To help everyone play their part, Parliament successfully argued that consumers should be allowed to return small items (such as mobile phones) to any larger electrical goods shop, without needing to buy a new product.

Better processing will help to recover more valuable raw materials and prevent harmful substances going to landfill. Recycling rates will need to rise to 80% for some categories of goods. The best recycling techniques should be used and products should be designed to be recycled more easily.

E-waste exports

MEPs also negotiated tighter controls on illegal shipments, to prevent e-waste being processed in countries where conditions are often hazardous to workers and the environment. The burden of proof moves from customs officials to exporters, who must properly demonstrate in future that goods are being shipped for repair or reuse as appropriate.

Cutting red tape

Producers of e-goods will continue to contribute financially towards meeting processing targets. They will benefit from simplified registration and reporting requirements and will be able to appoint representatives instead of needing to establish a legal seat in each country where they operate. New measures will prevent double charging of registration fees within Member States.

Waste: factor of growth and deficit reduction

Vendredi 13 janvier 2012

According a study, compliance with European standards of waste would permit 72 million savings and the creation of 400,000 jobs.

Illegal waste operations in Member States are causing missed opportunities for economic growth, but stronger national inspections and better knowledge about waste management would bring major improvements.

Improved implementation leads to significant benefits
The study gives an in-depth analysis of the effects of better implementation and enforcement and shows that benefits would be significant. It analysed a number of case studies in Cyprus, Germany, Ireland, Italy and the Netherlands to demonstrate economic, financial and social benefits to Member States.

The EU’s waste management and recycling sector is very dynamic, but still offers economic opportunities with vast potential for expansion. In 2008, its €145 billion turnover represented around 1% of the EU’s GDP and 2 million jobs. Compliance with EU policy would help create a sector with 2.4 million jobs and a total annual turnover of €187 billion.

The underlying problem is that too many prices do not reflect the true cost of disposal of goods – if they did, this would help prevent waste in the first place. In addition, many Member States still lack adequate infrastructure for separate collection, recycling and recovery. An absence of systematic control and enforcement mechanisms is another hindrance, coupled with a lack of reliable data on waste management.

Four key conclusions
- The study concludes that we need to know more about waste. Better data and systematic monitoring of how the laws work in practice must be made available. There is progress here, with a specific Data Centre on Waste recently set up by Eurostat.
- Better use of the polluter pays principle, and wider use of economic instruments like raising the costs of disposal, could help ensure compliance and provide the necessary financial resources for waste management.
- Inspection and monitoring capabilities need to be strengthened in Member States. This could mean establishing an auditing capacity at EU level and, possibly, common inspection standards.
- One relatively cost-effective option to strengthen implementation monitoring at EU level could be to draw on the expertise and capabilities of the European Environment Agency (EEA). This option would carry lower administrative costs than creating a new agency dedicated to waste.

Next Steps
The study’s conclusions will be discussed and analysed by the Commission. They will serve as grounds for developing a balanced mix of legal and economic instruments as suggested in the Roadmap for a Resource Efficient Europe and the Thematic Strategy on Waste Prevention. These strategies encourage economic and legal incentives such as landfill taxes or bans, extending “producer responsibility” schemes and introducing “pay as you throw” schemes.

Background
The EU’s economy uses 16 tonnes of materials per person per year, of which 6 tonnes becomes waste, half of it going to landfill. Many Member States rely mainly on landfill as the preferred waste management option. This situation persists in spite of existing EU waste legislation and is unsustainable.

The Commission’s Roadmap for Resource Efficiency sets out milestones for ensuring that waste is managed as a resource by 2020 including through the revision of prevention, re-use, recycling, recovery and landfill-diversion targets, and through the development of markets for secondary and recycled materials.

Green light for the EU Patent

Mardi 20 décembre 2011

The Legal Affairs Committee has approved today the single European patent system.

In three separate voting sessions, Legal Affairs Committee MEPs backed a political deal struck last 1 December between Parliament and Council negotiators on the so-called “EU patent package” (unitary patent, language regime and unified patent court). If Parliament as a whole and the Council confirm the deal, a new EU patent will be created.

The negotiations were led, for Parliament, by committee chair Klaus-Heiner Lehne (EPP, DE), Bernhard Rapkay (S&D, DE) and Raffaele Baldassarre (EPP, IT). MEPs inserted some provisions, among others, to tailor the proposed regime to the needs of small and medium-sized firms (SMEs).

Cheaper and more effective protection

The new patent will be less expensive and more effective than current systems in protecting the inventions of individuals and firms. The new system would provide automatic unitary patent protection and substantially cut costs for EU firms and help boost their competitiveness. The European Commission says that when the new system is up to speed, an EU patent may cost just €680, compared to an average of €1,850 for an American one.

To obtain EU-wide protection today, a European inventor has to validate a patent in each EU Member State, through the European Patent Office (EPO), a non-EU body. This procedure entails costs, especially for translation, that can make a European patent 10 times more expensive than a US one.

A unified patent court, to be set up through an international agreement currently being negotiated by Member States, will also cut costs and reduce current legal uncertainty due to differing national interpretations.

How to apply for the new patent?

Any inventor would be able to apply for an EU patent ensuring protection in all the 25 EU Member States concerned. Patents will be made available in English, French and German, but applications may be submitted in any EU language. Translation costs from a language other than the three official ones would be compensated.

MEPs for SMEs

Thanks to Parliament, specific measures were agreed to facilitate SMEs’ access to the European patent market. These range from stronger legal protection to full compensation of translation costs. Parliament’s also obtained an improvement in the rules on how patent offices share renewal fees, upon which the economic sustainability of the whole system lies.

Next steps

Before the new regulation can enter into force, it must be endorsed by the full Parliament, possibly at the February plenary session, and the Council.

The legislation is being dealt under the so-called “enhanced cooperation procedure”, which allows groups of Member States to integrate policies further, even where others do not agree. Spain and Italy have so far opted out of work on the patent proposal, but could join the decision-making process at any time. This procedure was adopted to unblock the file, long stalled over language issues.

The European Union is funding two new projects for the study of greenhouse gas emissions

Lundi 19 décembre 2011

Both projects AMITRAN and INGOS are designed to study concretely the measurement of greenhouse gas emissions.

One of the projects, titled AMITRAN (’Assessment methodologies for ICT in multimodal transport from user behaviour to CO2 reduction’) aims to scientifically underpin carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions estimations by developing a methodology to assess the impact of ICT (information and communication technologies) and ITS (intelligent transport systems) on transport sector CO2 emissions.

Bringing together partners from Belgium, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands and Romania, AMITRAN received EUR 1 900 000 of funding as part of the ‘ICT’ Theme of the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7).

ICT measures can help transport become less carbon intensive and more efficient as well as increase safety, manage transport demand, ensure transit reliability and improve traffic flow. ICT use in the transport sector includes its application in navigation and travel information systems, route advice to supporting drivers in adopting eco-driving behaviour, logistics and fleet management systems and optimised traffic light phasing at junctions, reserving parking spaces and paying road tolls.

The final result of the project will be a publicly available checklist and handbook that can be used for future projects. They will serve as a reference in assessing the ITS benefits in terms of CO2 emission reductions for passenger transport and road, rail, and ship freight transport.

But while CO2 attracts the most media attention, the harmful effects of other greenhouse gases must also be dealt with as a matter of urgency. That is why another new EU-funded initiative is working towards finding accurate measurements of greenhouse gases such as methane and nitrous oxide.

INGOS (’Integrated non-CO2 greenhouse gas observation system’) is funded in part by almost EUR 8 million under FP7’s ‘Infrastructures’ Theme and brings together partner institutions from 14 participating countries: Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

So far, the figures for these greenhouse gases have to a large extent been calculated based on estimations. INGOS aims to provide actual measurements of emissions in the participating countries.

Measurements from towers, peaks, masts and other relevant points around Europe are going to be carried out, and the network will also work with computer models to provide an accurate picture of where and how much is being emitted.

The launch of these two new projects shows that whether on or off Europe’s transport thoroughfares, accurate measurements of all greenhouse gases are essential for meeting the EU’s climate action targets. Both AMITRAN and INGOS aim to move forward research into one of the most important and pressing challenges the EU faces today.

The European Commission has proposed the ambitious target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the transport sector by 60% for the period from 1990 to 2050. But with present transport emissions levels currently 27% above 1990 levels, there remains a lot of work to be done.

Parliament proposes a single European transport space for 2020

Vendredi 16 décembre 2011

Parliament is proposing a single legislation for safety and environment for road transport.

The “roadmap to a single European transport area” with figures, as approved by Parliament, supplements the long-run view of a Commission white paper on the future of EU transport policy.

Reducing road deaths and the carbon footprint

The resolution invites the Commission to propose an action plan to halve road deaths and serious injuries (2010-2020) and calls for measures to cut CO2 emissions from road transport by 20%, maritime transport by 30% and aviation by 30% from 1990 levels. The noise and energy consumption of trains should also be reduced by 20% from 1990 levels. Overall, transport emissions should drop by 20 % over the period 2009-2020.

Polluter pays principle to apply to all modes of transport

Faced with a proliferation of national approaches, MEPs ask the Commission to draw up a “standardised EU methodology to calculate the carbon footprint of transport and logistics operations”.

MEPs also ask the Commission to table a proposal by 2014 for the “internalisation of external costs” for all modes of transport, with a view to including pollution, noise and congestion costs in the price paid by the user. Member States should use the revenue that this generates to fund sustainable mobility and transport infrastructure costs, says the resolution.

Targeted investments to link road, rail and navigation

Parliament asks the Commission to table, by 2013, a quantitative analysis of transport infrastructure, the density of the transport network and the quality of transport services in all EU Member States, with a view to determining future priorities. Meanwhile, it asks that the EU concentrate more resources on modernising the networks of new Member States, so that by 2025, their transport infrastructure reaches the level of the rest of the EU.

To increase the number of multimodal connecting platforms along navigable waterways and railways by 20% between 2010 and 2020 they should be allocated at least 15% of funding devoted to trans-European (TEN-T) networks, says the resolution.

A majority of MEPs believe that Member States wishing to authorise the use of longer, heavier lorries on certain predetermined routes should be able to do so, provided that this does not compromise safety or damage road infrastructure.

Environment-friendly mobility and combined transport in towns

The EU should create incentives to develop safe transport infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists in towns, so as to double the number of pedestrians, cyclists and public transport passengers and promote the introduction of integrated electronic ticket systems for multimodal journeys, says the resolution. MEPs also ask that EuroVelo, the European long-distance cycle route network, be included in the TEN-T network.

Ensuring high-quality jobs and services

To ensure that opening up transport markets does not result in social dumping, MEPs stress the need to harmonise transport sector training and working conditions. In particular, they call for haulage drivers’ working hours and rest periods to be better enforced throughout the EU.

The resolution was passed with 523 votes in favour, 64 against and 37 abstentions.

Background

Transport services employ about 10 million people in the EU and generate about 5% of GDP. On average, transport accounts for 13.2% of household expenditure.

Freight will grow by 40%, and passenger numbers by 34%, between 2005 and 2030, say Commission forecasts.

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.