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#Populism or #Peace: The choice is ours alone

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As the world gasped at Great Britain’s decision to 'Brexit' from the European Union last week, a less noticeable tempest in a teapot was brewing in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in Strasbourg, writes Yulia Lyovochkina.  The Bureau of the Assembly passed a declaration, in which it emphasized the importance of Russia’s participation in the activities of the Council of Europe. The vice speaker of the Ukrainian parliament launched a full-scale, ad hominem attack on the PACE and its chairman, Pedro Agramunt, for the simple offense that he said what others are thinking.  The notion that Europe will solve our problems for us is increasingly delusional.

The term “inflection point” is at risk of being over-used, but it does describe this very moment in the Russian-Ukrainian conflict quite well.  My country, Ukraine, has suffered enormously in the past two and a quarter years with the loss of territory, thousands killed, and over a million people displaced.  Russia, Winston Churchill once observed, may be seen as a “riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.”  Without presuming Russia’s intentions, one might reason that continuing this costly, fratricidal war is not in her interest either.  It is equally possible that Russia is preparing for a renewed offensive in August.  In either case, now seems very much the right moment for Ukraine to push for peace.

Meanwhile, the West seems increasingly prone to “Ukraine fatigue.”  The declaration of the PACE bureau reflects that sentiment.  While we might prefer that Europe speak in a single voice, favoring peace on our terms, it is reasonable to consider recent events – specifically the exit from the EU of a major partner  -- as a signal that aspirants such as ourselves may not be at the top of the agenda nowadays.

That is why now is the time for Ukraine’s government to show it is making strides to implement the Minsk Agreements.  Imperfect and inconsistently honored though this path may be, it is the only one we have.  Ukraine’s government owes it to those who have lost so much to work harder to show we are complying with the Minsk terms, and only then will it become clear whether others are or are not.

Specifically, this means preparing for local elections in the breakaway regions of the so-called Donetsk National Republic (DNR) and the Luhansk National Republic (LNR), and initiating broader de-centralization reforms.  These measures will lead to the pulling back of heavy weapons, which can only improve the safety for the civilians caught in the cross-fire.

It is interesting to note that when my fellow parliamentary deputy and former prisoner of war in Russia Nadia Savchenko was allowed to return to Ukraine, she herself called for direct talks with the separatists.  If a member of my political bloc had done so, he or she would be immediately accused of treason, but in the case of Savchenko, the authorities considered it more convenient to quickly change the subject.  Unlike members of the current coalition, Savchenko has paid a real and quantifiable price for this war.  Her words should not be so quickly dismissed.

Last week Europe saw what happens when populism and nationalism are put on the ballot.  While it is too early to say whether the results lead to solution, experience has shown that cooperation generally achieves more than go-it-alone showmanship.  In Ukraine, our struggle remains existential.  Accordingly, our politicians should be less concerned with scoring political points and regulating the speech of others than they should in capturing this opportunity for peace.

One day, Ukraine may enter Europe – not as a beggar, but as a solid contributor that is grounded in stability and proven in its ability to reform its broken government.  Until that day comes, we still believe in the power of cooperation and mutual support.

Yulia Lyovochkina is a member of Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada (national parliament) and is the first deputy chair of Ukraine’s delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

Electricity interconnectivity

EPO-IEA study: Rapid rise in battery innovation playing key role in clean energy transition

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  • Electricity storage inventions show annual growth of 14% over past decade, joint study by European Patent Office (EPO) and International Energy Agency (IEA) finds

  • Amount of batteries and other energy storage needs to grow fiftyfold by 2040 to put world on track for climate and sustainable energy goals

  • Electric vehicles now main drivers of battery innovation

  • Advances in rechargeable lithium-ion batteries focus of most new inventions

  • Asian countries have strong lead in global battery technology race

  • Accelerated innovation needed to drive forward Europe’s clean energy transition in order to meet the aim of the European Green Deal

 Improving the capacity to store electricity is playing a key role in the transition to clean energy technologies. Between 2005 and 2018, patenting activity in batteries and other electricity storage technologies grew at an average annual rate of 14% worldwide, four times faster than the average of all technology fields, according to a joint study published today by the European Patent Office (EPO) and the International Energy Agency (IEA).

The report, Innovation in batteries and electricity storage – a global analysis based on patent data, shows that batteries account for nearly 90% of all patenting activity in the area of electricity storage, and that the rise in innovation is chiefly driven by advances in rechargeable lithium-ion batteries used in consumer electronic devices and electric cars. Electric mobility in particular is fostering the development of new lithium-ion chemistries aimed at improving power output, durability, charge/discharge speed and recyclability. Technological progress is also being fuelled by the need to integrate larger quantities of renewable energy such as wind and solar power into electricity networks.

The study also shows that Japan and South Korea have established a strong lead in battery technology globally, and that technical progress and mass production in an increasingly mature industry have led to a significant drop in battery prices in recent years – by nearly 90% since 2010 in the case of Li-ion batteries for electric vehicles, and by around two-thirds over the same period for stationary applications, including electricity grid management.

Developing better and cheaper electricity storage is a major challenge for the future: According to the IEA’s Sustainable Development Scenario, for the world to meet climate and sustainable energy goals, close to 10 000 gigawatt-hours of batteries and other forms of energy storage will be required worldwide by 2040 – 50 times the size of the current market. Effective storage solutions are needed to drive forward Europe’s clean energy transition in order to meet the aim of the European Green Deal: to make the continent climate-neutral by 2050.

Electricity storage technology is critical when it comes to meeting the demand for electric mobility and achieving the shift towards renewable energy that is needed if we are to mitigate climate change,” said EPO President António Campinos. “The rapid and sustained rise in electricity storage innovation shows that inventors and businesses are tackling the challenge of the energy transition. The patent data reveals that while Asia has a strong lead in this strategic industry, the US and Europe can count on a rich innovation ecosystem, including a large number of SMEs and research institutions, to help them stay in the race for the next generation of batteries.”

IEA projections make it clear that energy storage will need to grow exponentially in the coming decades to enable the world to meet international climate and sustainable energy goals. Accelerated innovation will be essential for achieving that growth,” said IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol. “By combining the complementary strengths of the IEA and the EPO, this report sheds new light on today’s innovation trends to help governments and businesses make smart decisions for our energy future.”

Rise of electric vehicles boosting Li-ion innovation

The report, which presents the major trends in electricity storage innovation between 2000 and 2018, measured in terms of international patent families, finds that lithium-ion (Li-ion) technology, dominant in portable electronics and electric vehicles, has fuelled most of the battery innovation since 2005. In 2018, advances in Li-ion cells were responsible for 45% of patenting activity related to battery cells, compared with just 7% for cells based on other chemistries.

In 2011, electric vehicles overtook consumer electronics as the biggest growth driver for Li-ion battery-related (See graph: Number of IPFs related to applications for battery packs). This trend highlights the ongoing work of the automobile industry to decarbonize and develop alternative clean energy technologies. Ensuring batteries in electric vehicles are effective and reliable is crucial to encouraging their take-up by consumers post-2020, after which stricter EU-wide emissions targets will apply to fossil fuel vehicles.

The share of inventions from European countries is relatively modest in all fields of Li-ion technologies, but it is twice as high in emerging fields compared with more established ones, for example generating 11% of inventions in both Lithium iron phosphate (LFP) and Lithium nickel cobalt aluminium oxide (NCA), which are both seen as promising alternatives to current Li-ion chemistries.

Improvements to battery packs for electric cars have also produced positive spill-over effects on stationary applications, including electricity grid management.

The report also shows that patenting activity in the manufacturing of battery cells and cell-related engineering developments has grown threefold over the last decade. These two fields together accounted for nearly half (47%) of all patenting activity related to battery cells in 2018, a clear indication of the maturity of the industry and the strategic importance of developing efficient mass production.

In addition, other storage technologies, such as supercapacitors and redox flow batteries, are also rapidly emerging with the potential to address some of the weaknesses of Li-ion batteries.

Asian companies in the lead

The study shows that Japan has a clear lead in the global race for battery technology, with a 40.9% share of international patent families in battery technology in 2000-2018, followed by South Korea with a 17.4% share, Europe (15.4%), the US (14.5%) and China (6.9%). Asian companies account for nine of the top ten global applicants for patents related to batteries, and for two-thirds of the top 25, which also includes six firms from Europe and two from the US. The top five applicants (Samsung, Panasonic, LG, Toyota and Bosch) together generated over a quarter of all IPFs between 2000 and 2018. In Europe, innovation in electricity storage is dominated by Germany, which alone accounts for more than half of international patent families in battery technologies originating from Europe (See graph: Geographic origins of European IPFs in battery technology, 2000-2018).

While innovation in battery technology is still largely concentrated in a limited group of very large companies, in the US and Europe, smaller companies, universities and public research organizations also play a significant role. For the US, SMEs account for 34.4% and universities/research organizations for 13.8% of IPFs filed. For Europe, the figures are 15.9% and 12.7% respectively, contrasting with Japan (3.4%/3.5%) and the Republic of Korea (4.6%/9.0%).

More information

Read the executive summary

Read the full study

Notes to the editor

About international patent families

The patent analysis in this report is based on the concept of international patent families (IPFs). Each IPF represents a unique invention and includes patent applications filed and published in at least two countries or filed with and published by a regional patent office, as well as published international patent applications. IPFs represent inventions deemed important enough by the inventor to seek protection internationally, and only a relatively small percentage of applications actually meet this threshold. This concept can therefore be used as a sound basis for comparing international innovation activities, as it reduces the biases that may arise when comparing patent applications across different national patent offices.

About the EPO

With nearly 7 000 staff, the European Patent Office (EPO) is one of the largest public service institutions in Europe. Headquartered in Munich with offices in Berlin, Brussels, The Hague and Vienna, the EPO was founded with the aim of strengthening co-operation on patents in Europe. Through the EPO's centralised patent granting procedure, inventors are able to obtain high-quality patent protection in up to 44 countries, covering a market of some 700 million people. The EPO is also the world's leading authority in patent information and patent searching.

About the International Energy Agency
The International Energy Agency (IEA) is at the heart of global dialogue on energy, providing authoritative analysis, data, policy recommendations, and real-world solutions to help countries bring about secure and sustainable energy for all. Taking an all-fuels, all-technologies approach, the IEA advocates policies that enhance the reliability, affordability and sustainability of energy. The IEA is supporting clean energy transitions all over the world in order to help achieve global sustainability goals.

Media contacts European Patent Office

Luis Berenguer Giménez

Principal Director Communication / Spokesperson

Tel.: +49 89 2399 1203
[email protected]

 

 

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Financial stability: Commission adopts time-limited decision giving market participants the time needed to reduce exposure to UK central counterparties

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The European Commission has adopted a time-limited decision to give financial market participants 18 months to reduce their exposure to UK central counterparties (CCPs). A CCP is an entity that reduces systemic risk and enhances financial stability by standing between the two counterparties in a derivatives contract (i.e. acting as buyer to the seller and seller to the buyer of risk). A CCP's main purpose is to manage the risk that could arise if one of the counterparties defaults on the deal.

Central clearing is key for financial stability by mitigating credit risk for financial firms, reducing contagion risks in the financial sector, and increasing market transparency. An Economy that Works for People Executive Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis said: “Clearing houses, or CCPs, play a systemic role in our financial system. We are adopting this decision to protect our financial stability, which is one of our key priorities.

"This time-limited decision has a very practical rationale, because it gives EU market participants the time they need to reduce their excessive exposures to UK-based CCPs, and EU CCPs the time to build up their clearing capability. Exposures will be more balanced as a result. It is a matter of financial stability.”

The heavy reliance of the EU financial system on services provided by UK-based CCPs raises important issues related to financial stability and requires the scaling down of EU exposures to these infrastructures.

Accordingly, industry is strongly encouraged to work together in developing strategies that will reduce their reliance on UK CCPs that are systemically important for the Union. On 1 January 2021, the UK will leave the Single Market. The temporary equivalence decision aims to protect financial stability in the EU and give market participants the time needed to reduce their exposure to UK CCPs.

The text is available here and a full press release is online

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Financial Stability: EU rules on third-country central counterparties enter into force

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On 1 January 2020, new EU rules under the ‘European Market Infrastructure Regulation' or EMIR 2.2 on the supervision of EU and non-EU central counterparties (CCPs) became applicable. CCPs play a systemic role in the financial system as they act as a buyer for every seller and a seller for every buyer of derivatives contracts. In order for the new rules to be given full effect, they needed to be complemented with three delegated acts.

The acts have been published today in the Official Journal of the European Union and will enter into force today (22 September). These new rules will improve the EU's capacity to manage and address external risks to the financial system. They will also contribute to the resilience of financial market infrastructure, which is important to promote the international role of the euro and strengthen Europe's open strategic autonomy.

The delegated acts specify, among other things, how the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) can supervise non-EU CCPs, depending on the degree of systemic risk that they pose to the EU's financial system or to any of its member states. They set out criteria on how ESMA should tier third-country CCPs based on their systemic importance, and how ESMA should assess if CCPs' compliance with third country rules is comparable to EU rules.

An Economy that Works for People Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis said: “Protecting financial stability is one of our key priorities and CCPs play a systemic role in our financial system. We need to have predictable, proportionate and effective rules to address risks related to non-EU CCPs. This is in line with international efforts to bring stability and transparency to global derivative markets.”

For more information, see here and here

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