Archive pour la catégorie ‘Industry’

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.


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 debates on the future of VAT

Mardi 6 décembre 2011

With 40 years of existence, VAT now does not seem suited to our economy based on services and technologies

On this basis, the Commission today adopted a Communication on the future of VAT. This sets out the fundamental characteristics that must underlie the new VAT regime, and priority actions needed to create a simpler, more efficient and more robust VAT system in the EU.

Three overriding objectives shape the vision for the new VAT system:

First, VAT must be made more workable for businesses. A simpler, more transparent VAT system would relieve businesses of considerable administrative burdens and encourage greater cross-border trade. This, in turn, will be good for growth. Among the measures envisaged for a more business-friendly VAT are expanding the one-stop-shop approach for cross border transactions; standardizing VAT declarations; and providing clear and easy access to the details of all national VAT regimes through a central web-portal.

Second, VAT must be made more efficient in supporting Member States’ fiscal consolidation efforts and sustainable economic growth. Broadening tax bases and limiting the use of reduced rates could generate new revenue for Member States without the need for rate increases. The standard VAT rate could even be reduced in some Member States, without any impact on revenue, if exemptions and reductions were removed. The Communication sets out the principles that should guide the review of exemptions and reduced rates. The Commission will also be analysing Member States’ use of reduced rates and exemptions when reviewing their fiscal policies in the context of the European Semester (see MEMO/11/11).

Third, the huge revenue losses that occur today due to uncollected VAT and fraud need to be stopped. It is estimated that around 12% of the total VAT which should be collected, is not (so-called VAT Gap). In 2012 the Commission will propose a quick reaction mechanism to ensure Member States can respond better to suspected fraud schemes. Furthermore, the Commission will see whether current anti-fraud mechanisms, such as Eurofisc, need to be strengthened and will explore the possibility of a cross-border audit team to facilitate multilateral controls.

Finally, the Commission has concluded that the long-standing question of changing to a VAT system based on taxation at origin is no longer relevant. Therefore, VAT will continue to be collected in the country of destination (i.e. where the customer is located), and the Commission will work on creating a modern EU VAT system based on this principle.

On 1st December 2010, the Commission adopted a Green Paper on “The future of VAT – Towards a simpler, more robust and efficient VAT system”. This Green Paper was followed by a six month public consultation in which the Commission received 1700 contributions from businesses, academics, citizens and tax authorities.

The European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Tax Policy Group consisting of the personal representatives of the finance ministers welcomed the Green Paper and confirmed the need to reform the EU VAT system.

In parallel, the Commission carried out an economic evaluation of the VAT system.

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.

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.

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.

The European Commission presents its new program to support SMEs

Mercredi 30 novembre 2011

With a budget of 2.5 billion euros for the period 2014-2020, the program for the competitiveness of enterprises and SMEs (COSME) will be the successor to the current program for the Competitiveness and Innovation Programme (CIP)

The new programme targets in particular: 1) entrepreneurs, in particular SMEs, which will benefit from easier access to funding for their business, 2) citizens who want to become self-employed and face difficulties in setting up or developing their own business, 3) Member States’ authorities, which will be better assisted in their efforts to elaborate and implement effective policy reform.

The Programme for the Competitiveness of Enterprises and SMEs, COSME will focus on financial instruments and support to the internationalisation of enterprises and it will be simplified – to make it easier for small businesses to benefit from it. The Programme has the following general objectives:

- Improve access to finance for SMEs in the form of equity and debt: First, an equity facility for growth-phase investment will provide SMEs with commercially-oriented reimbursable equity financing primarily in the form of venture capital through financial intermediaries. Second, a loan facility will provide SMEs with direct or other risk-sharing arrangements with financial intermediaries to cover loans.
- Improve access to markets inside the Union and globally: Growth-oriented business support services will be provided via the Enterprise Europe Network to facilitate business expansion in the Single Market. This programme will also provide SME business support outside the EU. There will also be support for international industrial cooperation, particularly to reduce differences in regulatory and business environments between the EU and its main trading partners.
- Promote entrepreneurship: activities will include developing entrepreneurial skills and attitudes, especially among new entrepreneurs, young people and women.

The Programme is expected to assist yearly 39 000 firms, helping them create or save 29 500 jobs and launch 900 new business products, services or processes, yearly. Access to credit will be easier for entrepreneurs, particularly those willing to launch cross-border activities, with an anticipated €3.5 billion in additional loans and investment for European businesses. The financial envelope for implementing the Programme shall be EUR 2.5 billion, of which EUR 1.4 billion shall be allocated to financial instruments. The remainder will be spent for financing the Enterprise Europe Network, international industry cooperation and entrepreneurship education.

The European Commission is funding robotics

Lundi 28 novembre 2011

The European Commission has funded a project of robotic neurosurgery

The ROBOCAST project, has developed a new type of robot that gives two important advantages to surgeons: 13 degrees (types) of movement, compared to the four available to human hands during minimally invasive surgery, and “haptic feedback” the physical cues which allow surgeons to assess tissue and perceive the amount of force applied during surgery. The robot has performed accurate keyhole neurosurgery on dummies, and when ready for humans, could ease the suffering of millions of Europeans diagnosed with tumours, and conditions such as epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease and Tourette syndrome.

In keyhole neurosurgery a probe enters a tiny hole in the skull called a burr hole, and manipulates tissue or collects blood and other fluids. Robots can reduce surgeon’s tremor 10-fold, making them especially useful in protecting the delicate and important brain matter. Until now, robots have not been successfully tested for such sophisticated surgery.

Commission Vice-President for the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes said: “If any activity requires precision, it’s neurosurgery, so I am delighted this EU-funded research is helping surgeons and patients to be safer. If we can cut waiting lists and deliver better results for patients as Europe’s population ages, I think EU-funded technology projects like this will pay us back many times over.”

A follow-up project, called ACTIVE, is beginning parallel research into robotic neurosurgery for patients who are to remain awake during surgery. Up to three robots (two equipped with sensors and end-effectors to operate and one to actively smooth head movements) are expected to cooperate and assist the surgeon to perform the operation.

Research in Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) on medicine is strongly supported by the Digital Agenda for Europe which aims at easing the difficulties of illness and supporting active and healthy ageing (see IP/10/581, MEMO/10/199 and MEMO/10/200).

28 November to 4 December is European Robotics Week

Robots are a vital part of Computer-Aided Surgery which improves surgery through use of three dimensional displays, real-time intra-operative monitoring and other tools.

The global demand for robots and robot-related products was worth around €15.5 billion in 2010, including around €3 billion in Europe.

Under the R&D 7th Framework Programme, the European Commission has provided around €400 million to around 100 robotics research projects.

The ROBOCAST project started in 2008, leading to trial surgeries on dummies in 2011. The ACTIVE project started in April 2011 and will last for four years. It received € 5.77 million out of total € 7.62 million from Commission funding. The consortium of ACTIVE involves 6 of the ROBOCAST partners.

A step towards the European Patent

Mercredi 23 novembre 2011

Parliament help the introduction of this patent which will improve the competitiveness

The European Parliament’s rapporteurs, who will negotiate with national governments, will treat the three proposals (unitary patent, language regime and unified patent court) as a package, meaning none will be agreed without the others. According to the mandate, approved by the committee with 16 votes in favour and 3 against, the MEP negotiators will also ask that the three laws to enter into force at the same time.

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 committee endorsed the Commission proposal, and in particular a provision allowing inventors from countries currently outside the procedure to apply for an EU patent.

Rapporteur Bernhard Rapkay (S&D, DE) will strive to amend the text so as to introduce specific provisions 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.

Raffaele Baldassarre (EPP, IT), rapporteur for this second regulation, will also ask for a special provisions for small firms, including a special reimbursement and an easier access to patent protection.

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.

Klaus-Heiner Lehne (EPP, DE), rapporteur for the last piece of the package, will seek to ensure that the litigation system is efficient, by giving it a decentralised structure, clear procedural rules and judges selected for their competence.

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 guarantee a better product safety

Lundi 21 novembre 2011

Nine directives for different industrial sectors will enable better security of European products

Market surveillance and customs officers can now better check the safety of products using more effective tools. In addition, Member States can improve the supervision of monitoring bodies that check the conformity of products with EU law, for example ensuring that the CE marking has been properly applied by manufacturers.

Certain provisions (see below) of the nine directives are being aligned with model provisions developed at EU level to overcome divergences in EU law which make life hard for businesses. In the future, producers, importers and distributors will profit from uniform trading conditions. At the same time this process will further improve the safety of products on sale in the EU by strengthening compliance procedures and make it easier to keep non-compliant products off the market.

The changes made to the nine directives on alignment relate to definitions (for example “manufacturer”, “making available on the market”, “CE marking”), the obligations of economic operators, traceability requirements, conformity assessment bodies and procedures, CE marking and so on.

Obligations for manufacturers, importers and distributors
All products in the nine sectors marketed in the EU must carry a CE conformity marking , which is the manufacturer’s declaration that they satisfy all of the essential requirements of the applicable directive(s). Products that are CE marked enjoy free circulation in the European Economic Area (EEA).

Before obtaining the CE mark a manufacturer has to carry out a safety and conformity assessment. The manufacturer has to establish more comprehensive technical documentation for products and must ensure traceability.

Importers must check whether manufacturers have carried out conformity assessment of products correctly and if necessary must carry out random tests themselves.

The nine industry sectors concerned by the alignment
The Commission proposes to align the following directives which all ensure the free movement of goods in the sectors concerned:

- Low Voltage Directive : Directive 2006/95/EEC
- Electromagnetic Compatibility Directive: Directive 2004/108/EC
- Simple Pressure Vessels Directive: Council Directive 2009/105/EC
- Measuring Instruments Directive : Directive 2004/22/EC
- Non-automatic Weighing Instruments Directive: Directive 2009/23/EC
- Civil Explosives Directive : Council Directive 93/15/EEC
- Pyrotechnic articles : Directive 2007/23/EC
- ATEX Directive : Directive 94/9/EC on equipment and protective systems intended for use in potentially explosive atmospheres
- Lifts Directive : Directive 95/16/EC .

The New Legislative Framework for marketing of products entered into force on 1 January 2010. Designed to improve the operation of the internal market in goods, the main aim is to ensure the safety of citizens and reduce the number of products on the market which do not satisfy EU legislation. Another objective is to improve the quality of the work performed by bodies active in testing and certifying products. Furthermore the Framework should also bring more consistency to the whole regulatory framework for products and simplify its application.

Support of the MEDIA program for independent theaters to deal with the digital revolution

Mercredi 16 novembre 2011

Small independent cinemas have difficulty following the transition to digital

Digital equipment is too dear for small independent cinemas to be able to keep up with the digital revolution, say MEPs in a resolution voted on Wednesday. The text calls for specific EU subsidies to help them to invest in production, archiving 3D projection, HDTV or Blue-Ray technology.

Parliament’s Culture and Education Committee chair Doris PACK (EPP, DE) said “The costs of digitization are acceptable for the multiplexes, but small independent cinema owners cannot afford them. Yet it is precisely these small cinemas that are important for cultural diversity”.

Investing in European identity

European and national subsidies for European cinema should foster diversity in Europe’s film production and cinema network, as a way of promoting the expression of European cultural identities. MEPs call for a one-off increase in state aids and money to be made available from the EU Structural Funds and the new MEDIA programme MEDIA to support the digitisation of European cinema’s production and distribution chain.

Promoting cinematographic heritage

The key challenge facing European cinema today is to boost audiences at small independent cinemas in small towns and rural areas, which are particularly vulnerable financially and should be helped to keep up with technological progress, say MEPs.

The resolution also stresses the importance of digital archiving in conserving and showing this national and European heritage. MEPs call on EU Member States to take the necessary legislative measures, whilst ensuring that author copyrights are respected.