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Commission calls for ideas on new EU missions to address climate change, fight cancer, build green cities and make oceans and soils healthier

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The Commission opened a call for ideas seeking feedback and suggestions from citizens on how to adapt to climate change, fight cancer, build climate-neutral and smart cities and ensure healthy oceans, soils and food. The collected ideas will feed into the design of the new Missions under Horizon Europe, a novelty in the next EU research and innovation framework programme. Partly inspired by the Apollo 11 mission to put a man on the moon, European research and innovation missions aim to deliver solutions to some of the greatest challenges facing our world.

They thereby contribute to the goals of the European Green Deal and Europe's Beating Cancer Plan, as well as the Sustainable Development Goals. There are five defined mission areas. Each mission represents a portfolio of actions across disciplines and sectors within a certain timeframe and budget.

Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth Commissioner Mariya Gabriel said: “As part of the future Horizon Europe programme, missions will help define clear targets and find solutions to some of the most pressing challenges facing our world, in turn increasing the effectiveness of research and innovation funding. For this we need citizens to express their views, make proposals and engage in their design and implementation. Together, we will make Europe healthier, greener and more resilient.”

The Commission is engaging Europeans in designing and creating missions that will meet their expectations and needs: in June, the Mission Boards, a broad mix of independent experts, presented their first proposals for EU missions and throughout the summer, online events took place around Europe to listen to people's priorities. The results of the latest call for ideas will be presented at the online European Research & Innovation Days (22-24 September 2020). The selected missions will be announced at the end of 2020 and launched in 2021.  More information is available here.

Environment

European Green Deal: New financing mechanism to boost renewable energy

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The European Commission has published the rules for a new EU Renewable Energy Financing Mechanism, to apply from the start of 2021. This Mechanism will make it easier for member states to work together to finance and deploy renewable energy projects – either as a host or as a contributing country. The energy generated will count towards the renewable energy targets of all participating countries and feed into the European Green Deal ambition of reaching carbon neutrality by 2050.

Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson said: “To reduce Europe's greenhouse gas emissions by at least by 55% by 2030, we need to significantly increase the share of renewable energy. This mechanism provides an additional tool to facilitate investment in clean energy projects. It will encourage cooperation between member states and give a practical boost to our green recovery efforts in the coming years. It can help stimulate Europe's economies by getting large-scale projects off the ground and by supporting local SMEs and creating jobs.”

As foreseen under the Energy Union Governance Regulation, this Mechanism will be managed by the Commission, bringing together investors and project developers through regular public tenders. It enables ‘contributing member states' to pay voluntary financial contributions into the scheme, which will be used for renewable energy projects in interested member states (‘hosting member states'). More information is available here (including a link to the implementing regulation), in this factsheet and on the Renewable Energy Financing Mechanism webpage.

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European Green Deal Call: €1 billion investment to boost the green and digital transition

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The European Commission has decided to launch a €1 billion call for research and innovation projects that respond to the climate crisis and help protect Europe's unique ecosystems and biodiversity. The Horizon 2020-funded European Green Deal Call, which will open tomorrow for registration, will spur Europe's recovery from the coronavirus crisis by turning green challenges into innovation opportunities.

Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth Commissioner Mariya Gabriel said: “The €1 billion European Green Deal call is the last and biggest call under Horizon 2020. With innovation at its heart, this investment will accelerate a just and sustainable transition to a climate-neutral Europe by 2050. As we do not want anyone left behind in this systemic transformation, we call for specific actions to engage with citizens in novel ways and improve societal relevance and impact.”

This Green Deal Call differs in important aspects from previous Horizon 2020 calls. Given the urgency of the challenges it addresses, it aims for clear, discernible results in the short to medium-term, but with a perspective of long-term change. There are fewer, but more targeted, larger and visible actions, with a focus on rapid scalability, dissemination and uptake.

The projects funded under this call are expected to deliver results with tangible benefits in ten areas: eight thematic areas reflecting the key work streams of the European Green Deal and two horizontal areas - strengthening knowledge and empowering citizens - which offer a longer-term perspective in achieving the transformations set out in the European Green Deal. More information is available in this press release and in this factsheet.

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#GreenDeal - Measures to step up the fight against global deforestation

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MEPs outline how the EU can contribute to tackling worldwide deforestation and call for domestic policies to be revised to protect European forests.

In the non-binding resolution adopted on Tuesday with 543 votes to 47 and 109 abstentions, in response to a Commission communication, MEPs call for more support to protect, restore and sustainably manage forests, protect biodiversity and carbon sinks, as well as to recognize forests’ productivity and ecosystem services.

Binding targets and effective rules

The plenary wants binding targets to protect and restore forest ecosystems, especially primary forests, consistent with the EU 2030 biodiversity strategy’s proposals. MEPs call on the Commission to propose due diligence rules for financial institutions that would prevent EU financial entities or banks from being linked directly or indirectly to deforestation, forest degradation or degradation of natural ecosystems, which often causes indigenous residents to be subjected to human rights violations.

Supply chains and trade agreements free from deforestation

The Commission should propose measures to ensure sustainable and deforestation-free supply chains for products and commodities placed on the EU market, with a particular focus on tackling imported deforestation, says the text. Moreover, future trade and investment agreements must contain binding provisions to prevent deforestation, says the draft resolution. Finally, MEPs want the European Green Deal’s external dimension to be strengthened through alliances and partnerships with third countries, to address climate change and biodiversity loss.

Protection of primary forests

Between 1990 and 2016, an area of 1.3 million square kilometres of the world’s forests was lost, with a destructive effect on biodiversity, climate, people, and the economy.

Afforestation, where trees are planted in an area not previously forested, could under certain conditions, help the EU to reach climate neutrality by 2050, the MEPs said. However, newly planted forests cannot replace primary forests, which provide more carbon dioxide storage and more essential habitats than younger and newly planted ones.

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