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General European Highlights

EuCheMS responded to the European Commission Public Consultation on the revision of Annexes I and II of the Groundwater Directive (2006/118/EC)
On July 2013, the European Commission launched a public consultation on the revision of Annexes I and II of the Groundwater Directive. Article 10 of the Groundwater Directive requires the Commission to review Annexes I and II of the Directive every six years and come forward with legislative proposals, if appropriate. The objective of the consultation was to gather views for the first review of the Annexes concerning groundwater quality standards and the threshold values for groundwater pollutants and indicators of pollution. EuCheMS submitted its contribution based on the input from EuCheMS Division and experts from EuCheMS member societies.
Research and Innovation: Horizon 2020 expert advisory groups appointed
The European Commission has appointed the 15 groups of independent experts to advise on priorities for Horizon 2020. The advisory groups are the most diverse yet, drawing on public, private and civil society sources. Nearly 40% of their members have not advised on previous EU research programmes, ensuring a 'fresh approach' in the new programme. The diverse composition of the groups will help in deciding how EU-funded research and innovation can help address major concerns for Europe, such as providing better healthcare and clean, efficient energy.
New President of the European Research Council
The European Commissioner for Research and Innovation, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, appointed Professor Jean-Pierre Bourguignon as the new President of the European Research Council (ERC). Jean-Pierre Bourguignon will continue to build the ERC as the centre piece of supporting frontier science of the highest quality. That is vital as a foundation for longer-term breakthroughs from which our societies and economies will benefit.
Eight metals used in low-carbon energy technologies under risk of shortages
A new JRC study looking into the supply of raw materials for the manufacture of low-carbon energy technologies found that eight metals were at high risk of shortages. The risk arises from EU dependency on imports, growing demand worldwide and geopolitical reasons. The study builds on a 2011 effort which looked into the six key applications of the Strategic Energy Technology (SET) Plan: wind, solar, nuclear fission, bioenergy, carbon capture and storage (CCS) and the electricity grid. Among the eight elements classified as "critical" are six rare earth metals (dysprosium, europium, terbium, yttrium, praseodymium and neodymium), and the two metals gallium and tellurium. Four metals (graphite, rhenium, indium and platinum) are found to have a medium-to-high risk, suggesting that the market conditions for these metals should be monitored in case they deteriorate thereby increasing the risk of supply-chain bottlenecks.
Making the EU more attractive to foreign students and researchers
The EU would offer better working and living conditions for non-EU students, researchers, trainees, volunteers, school pupils and au pairs, as a way to boost member states' competitiveness, thanks to draft rules amended by the European Parliament. MEPs propose that researchers and students should be able to stay in the EU one and a half extra years to set up a firm or search for a job. They also propose stricter deadlines for deciding on applications. According to the European Commission, each year Europe spends 0.8% of GDP less than the US and 1.5% less than Japan on Research and Development (R&D).
EU signs global mercury treaty
The Minamata Convention on Mercury has been signed by participating nations attending a diplomatic conference in Kumamoto, Japan. The convention, which was agreed in January 2013, took 140 nations four years to negotiate. The treaty includes a mixture of mandatory and voluntary elements intended to control the use of mercury.
The conference agreed a work programme to cover the period between signature and entry into force of the Convention and to prepare the decisions the first Conference of the Parties has to take. This includes work on guidance for best available techniques to tackle mercury emissions to the air.
EU seeks to break barriers for qualified professionals
The European Commission kicked off an evaluation of national regulations on access to qualified professions in an attempt to smooth out divisions between member states over regulated professions. Regulated professions are jobs which require specific qualifications, such as chemists, pharmacists, architects and lawyers. The EU executive claims restrictive conditions discourage young people from entering the qualified professions, and different regulatory regimes prevent them from applying to jobs in other member states. It also believes that loosening unreasonable national controls over the professions could increase employment and enhance economic growth, since professional services amount to around 9% of EU GDP.

Funding Updates and Awards

ERA-NET Plus on Climate Smart Agriculture
Under the ERA-NET Plus action “Climate Smart Agriculture: Adaptation of agricultural systems in Europe” co-funded by the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) of the European Commission, this call for pre-proposals adaptation of European agriculture to climate change in its broad sense. Four areas are highlighted as key to advancing research on genetics: breeding of animals and plants to increase resilience to climate change; pests and diseases of animals and plants linked to climate and posing significant risks; adaptive management of water and soil resources and options for adapting agricultural systems.
Deadline: 2 December 2013
The Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) call for proposals
The IMI 10th Call for proposals has the following indicative topic: Immunological assay standardisation and development for use in assessments of correlates of protection for influenza vaccines.
Deadline: 28 January 2014

Consultations and Roadmaps

Consultation on a proposal revising methanol's harmonised classification and labelling
Italy is proposing to add reproductive toxicity to the existing harmonised classification of methanol. Their proposal is based on the scientific evidence suggesting that methanol has adverse effects on the development of the unborn child. Adoption of the proposal could result in restrictions to the use of methanol in some consumer products.
Deadline: 13 December 2013
Roadmap: Review of the EU copyright framework
This initiative follows from the Intellectual Property Strategy "A Single Market for Intellectual Property Rights, published on 24 May 2011, in which the Commission set out a range of possible elements for the creation of a comprehensive framework for copyright in the digital Single Market. Most recently the Commission stated that it will complete its on-going review of the EU copyright framework, in order to decide whether to table the resulting legislative reform proposals. The heads of State underlined, among other measures needed to achieve a well - functioning Digital Single Market by 2015, the importance of modernising Europe's copyright regime and facilitating licensing, while ensuring a high level of protection of intellectual property rights and taking into account cultural diversity.

Business Updates

Multinationals given tax breaks for research
"Supporting Investment in Knowledge Capital, Investment and Innovation," a report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), found that 27 of the organisation’s 34 members provided tax incentives to support business R&D during 2011, more than twice the number offering such incentives in  1995.
Such tax incentives are popular because they enable governments to assist companies without giving direct state aid. European countries have increased the proportion of tax incentives they offer companies for R&D since 2006, according to the report, with sweeteners accounting for more than half of such incentives in Austria, Belgium, France, Ireland and the Netherlands.
Eurostars support for research intensive SMEs to continue under Horizon 2020
Within the EU Innovation Investment Package, a EUR 22 billion investment in research performed by and through industry. There are five public-private partnerships, Joint Technology Initiatives, and four public-public partnerships, Joint Programme Initiatives, started by the European Commission together with other European countries. One of the four Joint Programme Initiatives (JPIs) is Eurostars, which is in its second phase under Horizon 2020. More than 70% of Eurostars project applicants are R&D SMEs, which are specifically targeted by the programme. Some of these companies are expected to grow rapidly to become the large firms of tomorrow, while others play an important role by driving innovation in value chains and/or in existing large firms.

Shale gas firms face EU methane emissions regulation
Shale gas companies operating in Europe will soon have to monitor, log and account for methane emissions at drill sites or else face regulation, the EU’s top climate officer has said.  
The amount of methane released into the atmosphere during shale gas drills is disputed, with one new industry-funded report suggesting it could be less than previously thought.

Forthcoming Events

EU Brokerage Event for the first Horizon 2020 ENERGY calls
5 December 2013
Brussels, Belgium
8th European Bioplastics Conference

10-11 December 2013
Berlin, Germany
Visions in Chemistry: Torkil Holm Symposium
24-25 January
Copenhagen, Denmark


Meeting on Sustainable Chemistry

On 13 November 2013, EuCheMS co-hosted an event in the European Parliament entitled “Sustainable Chemistry: Supporting Research, Innovation and Competitiveness in Europe”. The aim of the meeting was to raise awareness on the importance of sustainable chemistry and its ability in responding effectively to society’s challenges.

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The information given by EuCheMS in this EuCheMS Brussels News Update has been carefully formulated but is necessarily based on information available and consequently EuCheMS does not accept responsibility if it is in any way inaccurate or incomplete. In this respect EuCheMS does not accept any duty of care and will not be liable for any losses or damages arising from inaccurate or incomplete information. EuCheMS acknowledges that a disclaimer cannot restrict liability at law for personal injury or death arising through a finding of negligence.
Compilation Copyright © 2013 EuCheMS

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