The 2020 edition of the EERA yearly Strategy Meeting, brought together, this time in a virtual environment, the main EERA constituencies to discuss strategic issues and plan future steps.
Over the course of three days, more than 60 participants, counting the EERA Executive Committee, Personal Representatives (PRs), Joint Programme Coordinators (JPCs) and EERA Secretariat, took part in the plenary sessions and discussions covering topics from the Clean Energy Transition in Green Recovery times, to the main updates in European energy Research and Innovation (R&I) strategy. While addressing the developments in the field, the participants also collectively debated on the role of EERA in tackling the challenges and seizing the new green opportunities that lay ahead for Europe.
Setting the scene: Clean Energy Transition in Green Recovery times, prospects for EERA
This years’ edition was opened with a keynote speech by Mr. Patrick Child, Deputy-Head of DG RTD, who addressed one of the most crucial topics in the EU, the Next Generation EU Recovery Package, and its implications on the development of green sustainable policies. During his intervention, Mr. Child highlighted the instrumental role that EERA has played in supporting the work of the Commission pertaining to energy transition and reaching its climate objectives. “The unique contribution that EERA provides in the proposed Clean Energy Transition Partnership, illustrates that EERA is also broadening its expertise beyond the specific technological dimensions, which remain critically important, to embrace the broader challenge of the Clean Energy Transition with a systemic, cross-sectoral approach and a multidisciplinary analysis. And this, I think, will be very valuable” Mr. Patrick Child concluded.
Later in the day, Dr. Matthijs Soede, from DG Research & Innovation, discussed options to boosting the SET Plan in the context of supporting the European green recovery. In this regard, “the aim is to undertake a strategic discussion on the contribution of the SET Plan to the recovery phase and to the EU Green Deal objectives” Soede emphasized. Under this perspective, he highlighted EERA’s role as the entity able to link and connect the dots among the different initiatives.
For her part, Alessia Clochiatti, from DG ENER, discussed the National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs) and the role of national authorities in reaching the goal of climate neutrality by 2050. “There is a new tool the EC is working on to reach the climate and energy ambitions. We hope this will provide enough evidence to orient R&I technology investment and funding. The Commission will work on the link between the recovery fund and the NECPs, so that MS/ACs manage to allocate their funds to match their climate targets” Clochiatti concluded.
Besides the interventions from the European Commission, relevant discussions revolved around topics that are on top of the European agenda, such as the Horizon Europe Strategic Planning and the Partnership on Batteries and on Clean Hydrogen. The first day also brought forward the SUPEERA project perspective, as the project aims at integrating the SET Plan in the broader context of the Clean Energy Transition to support Europe’s strategic long-term vision.
EERA scenario planning
During the second day, EERA constituencies reflected on two different topics that have been triggered by the evolution of the Alliance. One of the subjects revolved around the possibility of better involving industrial players and envisioning more flexible types of collaboration. The other area of discussion concentrated on the most effective way to further develop the systemic expertise fully leveraging the existing expertise at JP level as well as internal coordination mechanisms that would enable faster, more efficient and more effective mobilisation of the membership into EERA-led initiatives. This with the purpose of assessing alternatives to collaborate more efficiently in the different EERA strategic actions for both long- and short-term initiatives, either internally or externally driven. Both topics raised animated and constructive discussions that gave relevant insights on how to steer the further development of EERA.
The activities in the morning were complemented by an invitation-only session, under the SUPEERA project, that focused in sharing best practices between (non-EERA) EU-13 stakeholders and key EERA members. The meeting, Strengthening your participation in EU Clean Energy Transition, was the first of a series of dedicated workshops and virtual seminars aiming at facilitating the involvement of the identified non-EERA stakeholders from these countries in the SET Plan and Clean Energy Transition activities under the coordination of the EERA network.
EERA strategic update
During the Extraordinary General Assembly held in December 2019, EERA members strongly supported the adoption of EERA’s new strategy. This approach included a further development of dedicated services to the EERA membership, as well as an updated strategy to increase EERA policy and research impact. In line with this purpose, the third and final day of the EERA SSM 2020 covered the main priorities of the EERA “Blue Scenario” and included, among others, topics such as the involvement of EERA in the Clean Energy Transition Partnership, a discussion on policy monitoring services and work-programme scanning, as well as the presentation of a new communication strategy.
Despite the singularity of the current period, this has been a very intense semester for EERA, and most of the endeavors the Alliance has embarked on, were brought forward during this year’s Strategy Meeting.
At European level, the political agenda has been driven by the multi-annual financial framework (MFF), the Horizon Europe framework programme definition, and more recently, Next Generation EU, the EU recovery package. To quote EERA President, Nils Røkke, “we, as EERA, decided early in the year that the Clean Energy Transition partnership was the strategic initiative for us to contribute to and we have devoted our efforts to shape, from a content point of view, the Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda”. As a result of the role EERA has assumed, its active involvement has been recognized and encouraged, gradually materializing its vision of becoming the privileged trusted advisor to the EU for the purpose of driving the EU society to climate neutrality.
In the words of EERA Secretary General, Adel El Gammal, “our 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”. EERA is already working actively in order to bring to life the initiatives discussed during the three days of the EERA yearly Strategy Meeting, aiming for an equally fruitful second half of the 2020.