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Space: EU attracts €300 million of investments to boost innovation in the sector

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The Commission and the European Investment Fund (EIF) have announced a €300 million investment into the space sector, with €100m stemming from the EU budget, supporting ground-breaking innovation in the industry. The EIF's participation is backed by the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the main pillar of the Investment Plan for Europe. This investment concerns two space tech focused funds, Orbital Ventures and Primo Space, under the first ever EU-backed equity pilot in the space sector, the InnovFin Space Equity Pilot.

Orbital Ventures, a pan-European seed and early stage fund, focuses on space technologies including downstream (communications, cryptography, data storage and processing, geolocation, earth observation) and upstream (space hardware, materials, electronics, robotics, rockets, satellites) areas. Primo Space, an Italian early-stage tech transfer investor, was the first fund selected by the EIF under this pilot. The EIF is now increasing its support. The fund is one of the first technology transfer funds only focused on space technologies in Europe, and the first one in Italy. It invests in proof-of-concept, seed and early stages projects or companies, and will foster the commercialisation of breakthrough innovations in the space industry in Europe.

Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton said: “Bolstering competitiveness in the space industry is an essential element for the recovery of the sector. I strongly welcome this investment into space technology SMEs, which brings us closer to our digital transition goal. This supports the development of European space start-ups and shows that the European space business is booming.''

Research, Innovation, Culture, Education and Youth Commissioner Mariya Gabriel said: “These transactions, benefiting from the InnovFin Space Equity Pilot, will help to bolster private equity for innovative SMEs and startups in the space sector. The investments in Orbital Ventures and Primo Space is a testimony to Europe's booming space sector and demonstrates our commitment to supporting companies with breakthrough ideas and technologies.”

For more information, please read the press release.

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Commission approves €400 million Danish aid scheme to support production of electricity from renewable energy sources

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The European Commission has approved, under EU state aid rules, a Danish aid scheme to support electricity production from renewable sources. The measure will help Denmark reach its renewable energy targets without unduly distorting competition and will contribute to the European objective of achieving climate neutrality by 2050. Denmark notified the Commission of its intention to introduce a new scheme to support electricity produced from renewable energy sources, namely onshore wind turbines, offshore wind turbines, wave power plants, hydroelectric power plants and solar PV.

The aid will be awarded through a competitive tendering procedure organised in 2021-2024 and will take the form of a two-way contract-for-difference premium.. The measure has a total maximum budget of approximately €400 million (DKK 3 billion). The scheme is open until 2024 and aid can be paid out for a maximum of 20 years after the renewable electricity is connected to the grid. The Commission assessed the measure under EU state aid rules, in particular the 2014 Guidelines on state aid for environmental protection and energy.

On this basis, the Commission concluded that the Danish scheme is in line with EU state aid rules, as it will facilitate the development of renewable electricity production from various technologies in Denmark and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, in line with the European Green Deal and without unduly distorting competition.

Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy (pictured), said: “This Danish scheme will contribute to substantial reductions in greenhouse emissions, supporting the objectives of the Green Deal. It will provide important support to a wide range of technologies generating renewable electricity, in line with EU rules. The wide eligibility criteria and the selection of the beneficiaries through a competitive bidding process will ensure the best value for taxpayers money and will minimise possible distortions of competition.”

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Russia: Summoning of the Russian Ambassador to the EU

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European Commission Secretary General Ilze Juhansone and External Action Service Secretary General Stefano Sannino jointly summoned the Ambassador of Russian Federation to the European Union Vladimir Chizhov (pictured) to condemn the decision of the Russian authorities from last Friday (30 April) to ban eight European Union nationals from entering the territory of the Russian Federation. 

Ambassador Chizhov was informed of the strong rejection and firm condemnation by the EU institutions and EU member states of this decision, which was purely politically motivated and lacks any legal justification.

Secretaries-General I. Juhansone and S. Sannino also recalled Russia's expulsion of Czech diplomats and the executive order of the Russian Federation of so called “unfriendly states”, expressing their grave concern for the cumulative impact of all these decisions on the relations between the EU and the government of the Russian Federation.

They also noted that the EU reserves the right to take appropriate measures in response.

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Parliament launches the Daphne Caruana Galizia journalism prize

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The European Parliament has launched a journalism prize in tribute to Daphne Caruana Galizia (pictured), a Maltese investigative journalist murdered in 2017.

The Daphne Caruana Galizia Prize for Journalism, launched on 16 October 2020, the third anniversary of her death, will reward outstanding journalism reflecting EU values.

"The Daphne Caruana Galizia Prize will recognize the essential role that journalists play in preserving our democracies and serve as a reminder to citizens of the importance of a free press. This prize is designed to help journalists in the vital and often dangerous work they do and show that the European Parliament supports investigative journalists," said Parliament Vice President Heidi Hautala.

Prize money of €20,000

The €20,000 annual prize will be awarded as of October 2021 to journalists or teams of journalists based in the European Union. Candidates and the eventual laureate will be chosen by an independent panel.

Who was Daphne Caruana Galizia?

Daphne Caruana Galizia was a Maltese journalist, blogger and anti-corruption activist who reported extensively on corruption, money laundering, organised crime, sale of citizenship and the Maltese government’s links to the Panama Papers. Following harassment and threats, she was murdered in a car bomb explosion on 16 October 2017.

The outcry over the authorities’ handling of her murder investigation ultimately prompted the resignation of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat. Critical of failings in the investigation, in December 2019, MEPs called on the European Commission to take action.

Published on 28 April, the report Platform to promote the protection of journalism and safety of journalists from the Council of Europe lists 201 serious violations of media freedom in 2020. This figure marks a 40% increase from 2019 and is the highest figure recorded since the platform was established in 2014. A record number of alerts concerned physical assault (52 cases) and harassment or intimidation (70 cases).

Parliament strongly advocates the importance of a free press. In a May 2018 resolution, MEPs called on EU countries to ensure adequate public funding and to promote a pluralist, independent and free media. Parliament has once again underlined the importance of media freedom in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Watch this Facebook live interview about the Daphne Caruana Galizia Journalism Prize.

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