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Commission launches Knowledge Centre to reverse biodiversity loss and protect Europe's ecosystems

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In the framework of the EU Green Week, the European Commission launches a new Knowledge Centre for Biodiversity: a one-stop shop for science-based evidence to restore and protect the natural ecosystems that provide us with food, medicines, materials, recreation, and wellbeing. The Knowledge Centre will make the latest knowledge about biodiversity available to strengthen the impact of EU policies.

It will also help to monitor the implementation of the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030, which aims to put Europe's biodiversity on a path to recovery by the end of the decade. Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius, said: “Only what gets measured gets done. If we want to deliver on the EU Biodiversity Strategy, we need to better connect all the dots, and for this we need sound data. Be it on the status of pollinators, environmental impact of pesticides, the value of nature for business or the economic rationale of nature-based solutions. We also need to make full use of the digital transformation, Earth observation and citizen science. The new knowledge centre will bring all this together, improving the way we generate and manage biodiversity knowledge, for use across policy areas.”

Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth Commissioner Mariya Gabriel, responsible for the Joint Research Centre,  added:  “Science has a crucial role to play in conserving our biodiversity. Led by our own scientists at the Joint Research Centre, the new Knowledge Centre for Biodiversity will help the European and global research community and policymakers to harvest and make sense of the vast array of information available, streamlining it into effective policies that protect Europe's ecosystems and the services they provide for European citizens.”

In addition, the first ever EU-wide ecosystem assessment has arrived,  which finds that a wealth of biodiversity data exists that could help in taking the right action to alleviate pressures on our ecosystems, but much of it remains unused. The assessment shows that we are becoming more and more dependent on our ecosystems, which themselves remain under high pressure from the impacts of climate change and human activities. The Knowledge Centre for Biodiversity will directly address challenges uncovered by the assessment. More information is available here.

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Boosting Offshore Renewable Energy for a Climate Neutral Europe

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To help meet the EU's goal of climate neutrality by 2050, the European Commission today presents the EU Strategy on Offshore Renewable Energy. The strategy proposes to increase Europe's offshore wind capacity from its current level of 12 GW to at least 60 GW by 2030 and to 300 GW by 2050. The Commission aims to complement this with 40 GW of ocean energy and other emerging technologies such as floating wind and solar by 2050.

This ambitious growth will be based on the vast potential across all of Europe's sea basins and on the global leadership position of EU companies in the sector. It will create new opportunities for industry, generate green jobs across the continent, and strengthen the EU's global leadership in offshore energy technologies. It will also ensure the protection of our environment, biodiversity and fisheries.

European Green Deal Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans said: “Today's strategy shows the urgency and opportunity of ramping up our investment in offshore renewables. With our vast sea basins and industrial leadership, the European Union has all that it needs to rise up to the challenge. Already, offshore renewable energy is a true European success story. We aim to turn it into an even greater opportunity for clean energy, high quality jobs, sustainable growth, and international competitiveness.”

Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson said: “Europe is a world leader in offshore renewable energy and can become a powerhouse for its global development. We must step up our game by harnessing all the potential of offshore wind and by advancing other technologies such as wave, tidal and floating solar. This Strategy sets a clear direction and establishes a stable framework, which are crucial for public authorities, investors and developers in this sector. We need to boost the EU's domestic production to achieve our climate targets, feed the growing electricity demand and support the economy in its post-COVID recovery.”

Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius said: “Today's strategy outlines how we can develop offshore renewable energy in combination with other human activities, such as fisheries, aquaculture or shipping, and in harmony with nature. The proposals will also allow us to protect biodiversity and to address possible socio-economic consequences for sectors relying on good health of marine ecosystems, thus promoting a sound coexistence within the maritime space.”

To promote the scale-up of offshore energy capacity, the Commission will encourage cross-border cooperation between member states on long term planning and deployment. This will require integrating offshore renewable energy development objectives in the National Maritime Spatial Plans which coastal states are due to submit to the Commission by March 2021. The Commission will also propose a framework under the revised TEN-E Regulation for long-term offshore grid planning, involving regulators and the member states in each sea basin.

The Commission estimates that investment of nearly €800 billion will be needed between now and 2050 to meet its proposed objectives. To help generate and unleash this investment, the Commission will:

  • Provide a clear and supportive legal framework. To this end, the Commission today also clarified the electricity market rules in an accompanying Staff Working Document and will assess whether more specific and targeted rules are needed. The Commission will ensure that the revisions of the state aid guidelines on energy and environmental protection and of the Renewable Energy Directive will facilitate cost-effective deployment of renewable offshore energy.
  • Help mobilize all relevant funds to support the sector's development. The Commission encourages Member States to use the Recovery and Resilience Facility and work together with the European Investment Bank and other financial institutions to support investments in offshore energy through InvestEU. Horizon Europe funds will be mobilized to support research and development, particularly in less mature technologies.
  • Ensure a strengthened supply chain. The strategy underlines the need to improve manufacturing capacity and port infrastructure and to increase the appropriately skilled workforce to sustain higher installation rates. The Commission plans to establish a dedicated platform on offshore renewables within the Clean Energy Industrial Forum to bring together all actors and address supply chain development.

Offshore renewable energy is a rapidly growing global market, notably in Asia and the United States, and provides opportunities for EU industry around the world. Through its Green Deal diplomacy, trade policy and the EU's energy dialogues with partner countries, the Commission will support global uptake of these technologies.

To analyze and monitor the environmental, social and economic impacts of offshore renewable energy on the marine environment and the economic activities that depend on it, the Commission will regularly consult a community of experts from public authorities, stakeholders and scientists. Today, the Commission has also adopted a new guidance document on wind energy development and EU nature legislation.

Background

Offshore wind produces clean electricity that competes with, and sometimes is cheaper than, existing fossil fuel-based technology. European industries are fast developing a range of other technologies to harness the power of our seas for producing green electricity. From floating offshore wind, to ocean energy technologies such as wave and tidal, floating photovoltaic installations and the use of algae to produce biofuels, European companies and laboratories are currently at the forefront.

The Offshore Renewable Energy Strategy sets the highest deployment ambition for offshore wind turbines (both fixed-bottom and floating), where commercial activity is well advanced. In these sectors, Europe has already gained unrivalled technological, scientific and industrial experience and strong capacity already exists across the supply chain, from manufacturing to installation.

While the Strategy underlines the opportunities across all of the EU's sea basins – the North Sea, the Baltic Sea, the Black Sea, the Mediterranean and the Atlantic – and for certain coastal and island communities, the benefits of these technologies are not limited to coastal regions. The Strategy highlights a broad range of inland areas where manufacturing and research is already supporting offshore energy development.

More information

Offshore Renewable Energy Strategy

Staff Working Document on the Offshore Renewable Energy Strategy

Memo (Q&A) on the Offshore Renewable Energy Strategy

Factsheet on the Offshore Renewable Energy Strategy

Factsheet on Offshore Renewable Energy and key technologies

Offshore Renewable Energy Strategy webpage

 

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New EU industrial strategy: The challenges to tackle

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MEPs want the EU's future industrial strategy to help businesses survive the COVID-19 crisis and face the digital and environmental transitions. Find out how.

European enterprises have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, as many have had to shut or reduce their workforce while finding new ways to work within new restrictive measures. Before making the necessary digital and green transitions,  industry  in the EU needs to recover from the pandemic.

During the November plenary, MEPs are set to reiterate their call for the European Commission to revise its March 2020 proposal on the EU's new industrial strategy. In a draft report adopted on 16 October, the members of the industry, research and energy committee demanded a shift in the EU approach to industrial policy in the wake of the pandemic by helping businesses cope with the crisis and face the digital and environmental transitions.

How the Parliament foresees the EU's industry landscape

Industry represents more than 20% of the EU’s economy and employs about 35 million people, with many millions more jobs linked to it at home and abroad. In addition it accounts for 80% of goods exports. The EU is also a top global provider and destination for foreign direct investment.

In the context of the new industrial strategy, the EU should enable companies to contribute to its climate-neutrality targets - as outlined in the Green Deal road map - support firms, particularly small and medium enterprises in the transition to a digital and carbon-neutral economy and help create high-quality jobs, without undermining the EU’s competitiveness.

According to MEPs; such a strategy should consist of two phases: a recovery phase to consolidate jobs, reactivate production and adapt to a post-COVID period; followed by reconstruction and industrial transformation.

Read about the main EU measures to kick-start the economic recovery.

Empowering smaller firms to achieve sustainable growth

Small and medium-sized enterprises are the backbone of the EU economy, accounting for more than 99% of all European business. The industrial strategy should focus on them, as many have contracted debts due to national coronarivus measures, reducing their investment capacity, which is likely to trigger sluggish growth in the long-term.

Helping industry recover from the socio-economic crisis

The COVID Recovery Fund is part of the first phase in responding to the emergency and should be distributed according to the level of damage suffered, challenges faced and amount of financial support already received through national aid schemes.

Preference should be given to companies and smaller firms oriented towards the digital and environmental transformation and thus investing in environmentally sustainable activities.

MEPs want to:

  • Ensure that the green and digital transitions are fair and socially just and are followed by initiatives to train workers.
  • Create a new impact assessment of the potential costs and burdens of the transition for European companies, including small and medium-sized enterprises.
  • Make sure that state aid provided in the emergency phase does not lead to permanent distortions in the single market.
  • Bring strategic industries back to the EU.

Investing in greener, digital and innovative enterprises

During the second phase, the industrial strategy should ensure competitiveness, resilience and long-term sustainability. Goals include:

  • Focusing on the social aspects of the structural change.
  • Revitalizing territories that rely on fossil fuels using the Just Transition Fund, which is part of the EU's climate finance plan.
  • Ensuring EU subsidies go to environmentally sustainable companies and enhancing sustainable financing to companies in the decarbonisation process.
  • Using the Border Carbon Adjustments mechanism to help protect EU manufacturers and jobs from unfair international competition.
  • Having a research-based pharmaceutical industry and a medicine shortage risk mitigation plan.
  • Exploiting the circular economy, privileging the "energy efficiency first" principle, energy savings and renewable energy technologies.
  • Using gas to transition away from fossil fuels and hydrogen as a potential breakthrough technology.
  • Investing in artificial intelligence and implementing a single European digital and data market, building a better digital taxation system and developing European standards on cybersecurity.
  • Investing more in research and development.
  • Revising EU antitrust rules to ensure global competitiveness.

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Environment

Boosting offshore renewable energy for a Climate Neutral Europe

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To help meet the EU’s goal of climate neutrality by 2050, the European Commission today (19 November) presents the EU Strategy on Offshore Renewable Energy and proposes ambitious new targets for the development of this important European industry and energy source. Future growth will be based on the vast potential across all of Europe’s sea basins and on the global leadership position of European companies in the sector.

A press releaseQ&A, two factsheets on the Offshore Renewable Energy Strategy and key offshore renewable energy technologies, and a video are available online.

European Green Deal Executive Vice President Frans Timmermans and Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson are holding a press conference on the above issue, which you can follow live on EbS.

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