EPP Groupe: A long overdue strengthening of European defence capabilities is underway with the establishment of the European Defence Fund. “Only a strong and united Europe will be able to revitalise and relaunch our common space endeavour. As it is, the new Space Programme is a perfect example of what strong European cooperation can achieve”, said Massimiliano Salini MEP, the European Parliament’s Spokesman on the Space Programme for 2021 to 2027. The European People’s Party is also in favor of greater investment in science, research and infrastructure.
“The EPP Group has always been a strong supporter of and has pioneered the idea of a dedicated fund for European defence. And it is imperative that we improve European defence cooperation to avoid duplication of projects and develop strong flagship programmes”, said Françoise Grossetête MEP, Chairwoman of the EPP Group’s Working Group on Economy and Environment, commenting on today’s approval of the Report on the European Defence Fund.
Too often, defence projects in Europe have been done on an isolated country-by-country basis, leading to, for example, a multitude of weapon systems compared to the United States, for instance.
“We want to encourage pan-European cooperation in defence projects and we want to make sure that eligibility criteria for companies are very strict to improve our strategic autonomy”, said Françoise Grossetête.
The proposed €13 billion European Defence Fund for 2021-2027 will have as a rule that at least three undertakings established in at least three Member States will have to cooperate to receive project funding.
“Competitiveness, innovation and excellence are the keys to selecting the projects”, concluded Grossetête.
Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) and mid-cap participation are favoured by providing higher financing rates, favouring projects by consortia that include SMEs, and mid-caps.
In addition, a flexibility clause and earmarking of at least 5 per cent of the budget for disruptive technologies was added – technologies that are more risky than normal projects, but could have a huge impact if they are successful.
“Only a strong and united Europe will be able to revitalise and relaunch our common space endeavour. As it is, the new Space Programme is a perfect example of what strong European cooperation can achieve”, said Massimiliano Salini MEP, the European Parliament’s Spokesman on the Space Programme for 2021 to 2027.
“And as such, the successful cooperation on space policy serves as an antidote to the divisive, nationalist and populist forces that aim to undermine the European project.”
Europe is the second space power in the world, giving jobs to more than 230,000 people and creating up to €62 billion in value, thanks to a strong cross-country cooperation.
“But in order to keep and develop its capabilities, effort is required. In an increasingly uncertain geopolitical environment, investing more in space is an EPP Group priority to preserve Europe’s leadership, competitiveness, sustainability and autonomy in this strategic domain in the future”, continued Salini.
The new Space Programme drawn up by the European Parliament bets on Europe and aims at strengthening its global leadership in the domains of Earth observation, navigation and technological research. The programme should get a major injection of €16.9 billion in the next EU long-term budget (MFF) for 2021-2027.
“In the coming years, we have to foster an ever greater cooperation between the excellences in the various Member States. The Copernicus Earth observation and the Galileo navigation satellite systems are concrete examples of a great success that stimulates the development of new applications of services such as drones, navigation, self-driving cars and helps to monitor CO2 emissions to name just a few examples”, he said. He also stressed that these kinds of services risk falling under the control of the USA and China if Europe doesn’t step up.
Furthermore, the European Space Programme should foster an autonomous access to space through the aggregation of launches, the development of alternative satellite launching technologies, and supporting the ground infrastructures.
”Only a substantial increase in the EU budget for research and innovation will assure that Europe remains competitive compared to the United States and China. Unfortunately there is still a huge mismatch between the actual money we spend on research and our ambition to invest 3 per cent of GDP into research and innovation. So far, we have shamelessly failed to reach the most important Europe 2020 goal”, said Christian Ehler MEP, EPP Group Spokesman, after the vote in the European Parliament’s Industry Committee on the Horizon Europe Programme.
The European Parliament will ask the Member States to increase the EU budget for research and innovation, Horizon Europe, in the upcoming long-term budget (Multiannual Financial Framework) for 2021-2027 from €77 to €120 billion making it by far the largest research programme in the world.
“We reached a position in Parliament in 3 months, much faster than Horizon 2020. We hope that the Council will be as united as the European Parliament and that we can enter into negotiations and have a deal before the European elections”, said Christian Ehler.
“It will send a positive signal to citizens, researchers and to our global competitors that we are sticking to our ambitions and that we are in the race to become the most excellent and innovative place in the world. Europe is at an historic crossroads. The time is now to decide whether we will become a leader or fall behind our global competitors.”
More than half (55 per cent) of the new Horizon Europe budget will be dedicated to fostering excellent collaborative research where universities, research organisations and industry are working together towards innovation.
In addition, specific thematic priorities will be strengthened:
- the creative sector and cultural heritage support strengthened – we have created the European Cultural Heritage Cloud;
- quantum and Artificial Intelligence strengthened;
- fighting child cancer;
- fighting against terrorism and disasters with a strengthened cluster for security;
- fighting climate change in particular by supporting the implementation of greener technologies in energy-intensive industries.
“Researchers and companies will have fast-track options throughout the programme to have access to funding in only 3 months. Female researchers will be able to better combine work and family life; we have added more flexibility to the Marie Curie Programme.”
“Finally, we will help to increase participation of the EU-13 countries (the countries that entered the EU after 2004) which have so far received less than six per cent of the current Horizon 2020 Programme without undermining the excellence principle”, Christian Ehler concluded.
“For the first time, we will have a truly digital European programme with clear focus on opportunities for European companies and especially Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs)”, said Pilar del Castillo MEP, EPP Group Spokeswoman, on the occasion of the vote on the Digital Europe Programme in the European Parliament’s Industry Committee.
By investing €9.2 billion in the next long-term EU budget for 2021-2027, the Digital Europe Programme will address increasing digital challenges by providing the digital capabilities it needs to seize all the opportunities of the Digital Transformation, be it supercomputers, Artificial Intelligence, cybersecurity or digital skills.
Del Castillo highlighted the importance of the actions on Artificial Intelligence and supercomputer capacity: “Europe’s SMEs will get much better possibilities to use the future supercomputers for data analytics and exploit the future Artificial Intelligence capacities. We must not forget that currently, the supercomputers used are subject to great fees and are localised in third countries.”
While Europe has focused a great part of its digital efforts in the research and innovation fields, experience from successful public policies for high tech areas shows that, in addition, there is a need to support rapidly-developing technology fields – high performance computing, Artificial Intelligence, cybersecurity and advanced digital skills.
“It must no longer be acceptable that while the EU currently consumes one third of high performance computing resources worldwide, it only provides around 5 per cent of the capacity, pushing EU scientists and engineers to turn massively to computing resources outside Europe”, Pilar del Castillo said.
The Digital Europe Programme will work hand-in-hand with the overall EU research and innovation programme Horizon Europe.
Europe will continue to push ahead with the expansion of modern transport, energy and digital infrastructures. The European Parliament’s Industry and Transport & Tourism Committees ensured this today by adopting the Connecting Europe Facility Programme (CEF) beyond 2020.
“Mobility is the basis for jobs and growth. Therefore, we need modern and efficient infrastructures in Europe. It is good news for citizens, businesses and markets that we managed to increase the budget of the programme by almost €6 billion. The 2021-2027 CEF will deliver better for the benefit of the citizens”, said Marian-Jean Marinescu MEP, Chairman of the EPP Group’s Working Group on Budget and Structural Policies and Co-rapporteur on this file for the Transport and Tourism Committee.
There is €42.2 billion foreseen for the whole programme in the next long-term EU budget. This includes €30.6 billion for transport, €8.6 billion for energy and €3 billion for digital projects. 60% of the CEF contributes to climate actions. The funds will finance European Transport Network (TEN-T) projects, the main arteries of trans-European transport. The CEF also supports the deployment of European traffic management systems for all traffic modes, in particular for air transport and railways. In addition, the funds will be allocated for military mobility to assure a civilian and defence use of the infrastructure.
When it comes to the energy sector, the programme will push for further integration of the internal energy market and will finance cross-border renewable energy projects. The security of supply will be strengthened by making infrastructures smarter and digital.
“The aim of the CEF 2.0 is to accelerate investments in trans-European networks and to have more synergies between the transport, energy and digital sectors. Cross-border connections are crucial to complete the Energy Union and the Digital Single Market”, stated Henna Virkkunen MEP, Co-rapporteur and Member of the Industry, Research and Energy Committee.
“The focus of the trans-European energy infrastructure is increasingly on electricity interconnections, electricity storages and smart grids. A new element in the CEF 2.0 is cross-border renewable projects. In the area of digital connectivity infrastructure, one important element will be the actions contributing to the access to very high-capacity networks, providing gigabit connectivity, including 5G”, she concluded.
Sorce: EPP Group