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News 27 March 2024

EERA at EU R&I Days: Exploring timely sessions on building a greener, more sustainable Europe

The fifth edition of the EU Research and Innovation Days (R&I Days), which took place on 20 and 21 March 2024 during the broader Research and Innovation Week, emerged as a key opportunity for the research community to come together and discuss avenues for shaping a greener, fairer and more competitive Europe.

Against this backdrop, the EERA Secretariat attended sessions relevant for the wider EERA community, notably focused on the European Green Deal and the role of R&I in boosting green and sustainable action in Europe.

One of the sessions delved into a discussion on EU Missions for the Green Deal. Throughout the debate, Pascal Lamy, former Trade Commissioner and former Director General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), who currently serves as Chair of the Mission on Healthy Oceans, Seas, Coastal and Inland Waters, pointed to the need for greater political advocacy for Missions at both European and member state level. With EU elections fast approaching, he outlined the importance of ensuring the Missions continue to be driven forward. This is particularly pertinent amid the mounting backlash facing the European Green Deal.

Another session worth highlighting for the broader EERA community focused on Exploring R&I Dimensions of the Green Deal. Helena Braun, Member of the Cabinet of Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal, Maroš Šefčovič, provided insightful input on the role of researchers, inventors, and innovators as crucial for the success of the European Green Deal. In particular, she noted that Europe’s ability to deliver on vital Green Deal objectives is dependent not only on its innovation capacity, but also on ensuring the mobilisation of these innovations.

Amid a global landscape that increasingly focuses on industrial leadership and global competition, the Workshop on Energy Intensive Industries proved timely. Henriette Spyra, head of the Directorate General Innovation and Technology of the Federal Ministry Republic of Austria, provided a national decision-making perspective to the discussion. In her view, given the 2030 and 2040 climate targets, the challenge is to decarbonise rather than deindustrialise, and therefore the competition should instead be framed as a race to a better future. In addition, Ilse Kenis, Chief Carbon Officer of the global manufacturer of lime, limestone and mineral-based products Carmeuse, offered an industry-oriented perspective, pointing to R&I as the only way for the industry to meet the objectives of the Green Deal. She further discussed the recent industry-backed Antwerp Declaration calling for a reinvented industrial deal, including a more flexible innovation framework and increased R&I efforts.

Finally, in the wake of the Commission’s recently unveiled strategy to bolster European industrial leadership in advanced materials, EERA attended a session on this prominent topic. Moderated by Director-General for Research and Innovation Marc Lemaître, the session on Advanced Materials for Industrial Leadership explored the need to ensure traceability and transparency of the entire material supply chain, calling for the development of a joint European platform for data sharing in this regard. Furthermore, the panellists showcased their support for public-private partnerships to face the materials challenges, along with the need to ensure a sector-agnostic approach in utilising the knowledge already available in order to speed and scale up the myriad of possible alternatives.