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Speakers corner 30 April 2020

Reaffirming our mission in challenging times

Editorial to EERA newsletter Special Edition 04/2020 by Adel El Gammal, EERA Secretary General

Dear readers,

We would like to share with you some news about the EERA community, in this very particular period for all of us.

Each city offers unseen streetscapes of its beauty, stripped of its citizens, and even of tourist crowds. We offer you a night-time view of Brussels Grand Place.

Before and under the lockdown

It has been 6 weeks now that Brussels has been on lockdown. Just a few days before the official government announcement, the EERA team was already organised to work remotely, and had put in place a daily coordination process to ensure the continuity of its activities and commitments. Despite the cancellation of physical meetings, this period is still very intense. EERA keeps a strong focus on contributing to shape the upcoming Horizon Europe framework programme on multiple fronts, in interaction with the EU Commission and with Member States (and Associated countries) representatives. Internally, we managed to resume operations, holding remotely ExCo and JPC meetings as planned, and we have started the implementation of priority actions under the scope of the approved “Blue Scenario”.

We look forward to updating you on current and upcoming action plans on the occasion of the General Assembly that will take place by video conference on 5 May 2020.

Phasing out the lockdown

What is to come as a result of the progressive phase out of the lockdown is subject of all sorts of speculation. Are we at the dawn of a societal paradigm shift? Or are we only about to fall further into the usual consequences of a deep recession, under the increasing questionable rules of economic orthodoxy?

At a time when many unpredictable and disruptive drivers come together, traditional scenario planning becomes ineffective and organisations must take a radically new approach to planning:

  1. Increase monitoring and understanding of the surrounding conditions.
  2. Build increased internal flexibility and responsiveness to external changes.
  3. Plan on the basis of solid bedrock.

The response given by many governments to the COVID-19 crisis has broken a century old universal certitude and has revealed what was unthinkable just three months ago: Governments are effectively able to unlock trillions of euros with a snap of the fingers when they believe it is needed. There is little doubt that this sets an irreversible precedent to the evolution of modern society.

Some of us may be concerned that the COVID-19 crisis could distract attention from longer-term imperatives related to climate change and cast a shadow of uncertainty over climate-related funding initiatives at national, EU and global level.

On the contrary, we believe it will be an eye-opener: The frailty of human society and its vulnerability to the much higher threat of climate change, coupled with the capacity to mobilize nearly unlimited financial resources, will shape the new perception of citizens to whom Governments will increasingly have to justify the legitimacy of their actions.

For our part, we at EERA believe that climate change will soon emerge as the single most relevant priority driving policymaking in Europe and worldwide.

Our new mission “Catalysing European energy research for a climate neutral society by 2050” becomes more than ever highly relevant and will remain the compass guiding our activities. The implementation of the Blue Scenario will enable EERA to live up to the purpose of becoming the trusted advisor to the EU in order to drive society to climate neutrality.

Our new mission “Catalysing European energy research for a climate neutral society by 2050” becomes more than ever highly relevant and will remain the compass guiding our activities.

Adel El Gammal - EERA Secretary General