Issue 27

Late September 2013

A series of events are being held across Europe and Belgium for the 11th European Week of Regions and Cities from 7-10 October, and throughout October and November. The events are being run by DG Regional Policy from the European Commission and the Committee of the Regions in co-operation with partners in regions and cities from across Europe. The events focus on: managing change 2014-2020, synergies and cooperation, and challenges and solutions.

The European Commission has set out progress made in moving beyond gross domestic product as a measurement of economic activity. It comes four years after it first proposed a ‘beyond GDP’ roadmap to complement the indicator with environmental and social data. The most developed environmental indicators could be tested in “real-world policymaking”. Development of an index to reflect pollution and other harm to the environment within the EU, with the aim of assessing the results of domestic protection efforts, has proved to be more difficult that anticipated.

Discussions on a list of new substances to be severely restricted under the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive (RoHS) will continue in October.  A public consultation is due to be launched and a 3rd stakeholder meeting will take place.  In late August, the European Commission confirmed that the inclusion of flame retardant HBCDD and phthalates DEHP, BBP and DBP would be discussed this autumn.

A transatlantic initiative hopes to encourage more people to buy electric cars by developing a universal plug that would drive down the cost and make charging as easy as filling up at a gas station. Electric cars could alleviate pollution in Europe’s congested cities if only people started buying and driving them in significant numbers. However, a big problem for consumers and manufacturers is that standards for plugs, cables, and electrical communications are different across the world.

The European Commission has launched the search for the first European Capital of Innovation, or iCapital. The prize aims to promote innovation, which is central to the Europe 2020 strategy for economic growth and competiveness.

Normally the presence of Blue-green algae is not generally met with great excitement in Europe’s tourist beaches and lakes.  But all this may be about to change. A team of European scientists is on a mission to prove that blue green algae can be used to produce bioethanol as a biofuel for less than 40 cents (€) a litre.   The EU-funded project DEMA ('Direct Ethanol from MicroAlgae') is focusing on cyanobacteria - a microalgae found in almost every terrestrial and aquatic habitat, including in oceans, lakes and damp soil, and on rocks.

From 12th to 16th May 2014, the Third International Climate Change Adaptation Conference will take place in Fortaleza, Brazil brining together the research community and the users of climate change adaptation information at regional and global scale. The conference will focus on climate impacts and adaptation options. It will bring together scientists, decision makers, and practitioners from developed and developing countries to share research approaches, methods and results.

Horizon2020 is the European Commission’s Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, covering the period 2014-2020. One of the aims of the programme is to promote scientific research that tackles the grand societal challenges facing Europe and the World.

The BUILD UP Skills Guide for Proposers 2013 is now available and the electronic submission system is open: submission deadline is 28/11/2013. Applications for funding under this pillar II of the Build UP initiative are invited for projects that bring forward innovative onsite training for workers involved in the fitting and upgrading of specialist renewable energy technologies. Applications should build on the pillar 1 road maps and past projects that have been developed in most member states. READ MORE

The European Commission launched a public consultation on the lifecycle impact of buildings, in advance of a communication which is expected at the beginning of 2014.  Building currently account for 40% of energy use in Europe and a less wasteful approach to their power consumption is at the heart of EU plans for reducing carbon dioxide emissions.  The anticipated Commission communication is likely to focus on resource use in a broader sense – to look at embodied energy in buildings, water us