Promoting energy efficiency – EU Sustainable Energy Week

The Policy Conference, European Sustainable Energy Week, is the biggest European conference dedicated to renewables and efficient energy use in Europe. Sessions organised by the European Commission and energy stakeholders focus on sustainable energy issues, debate new policy developments, best practices and sustainable energy ideas.

Carrying the momentum of the 13th edition, the 14th edition on 17-21 June 2019 will feature interactive sessions and activities. The Policy Conference includes a Networking Village and the EUSEW Awards Ceremony. Throughout May and June 2019, numerous Energy Days will take place throughout Europe, signifying local and regional contribution to the EU’s climate and energy goals.

Taking place in Brussels between 18-19 June, the EU Sustainable Energy Week is the ideal platform for local and regional authorities, public bodies and private stakeholders to come together and discuss all matters relating to resource efficiency. It is the perfect opportunity to meet stakeholders promoting energy efficiency and renewable energies, learn about successful policies and inspire innovation to meet the EU’s energy and climate goals. Furthermore, the week will also see a number of awards presented to outstanding projects in the area of resource sustainability.

Registration and agenda is available on the official EUSEW website.

 

iCapital Award launches for the 5th time!

Cities and towns are the backbone of our ecosystems, providing favourable conditions for the strengthening of innovation, resilience and sustainability.

The EU recognises cities with inclusive innovation ecosystems by awarding the European Capital of Innovation Awards (iCapital). In its 5th edition, the iCapital prize enables European cities to showcase their contribution to developing local innovation ecosystems for the benefit of businesses and the well-being of their citizens. The award is managed by European Commission’s Directorate General for Research & Innovation.

An annual cash prize is awarded to the European city that is best able to demonstrate its ability to harness innovation to improve the lives of its citizens. This particularly includes cities that contribute to open and dynamic innovation ecosystems; involve citizens in governance and decision-making, and’ use innovation to improve the resiliency and sustainability of their cities.

The prize value to the named city is €1 million, with €100,000 for each of the five runner-up cities. The award also recognises a number of finalist cities specially acknowledged for their efforts in promoting innovation.

Cities with at least 100,000 inhabitants, in a Member State associated to Horizon 2020, are eligible to apply.

More details on the selection criteria as well as previous success stories can be found on the iCapital website.

Closing date is 9th June!

Interreg NWE – 9th call open

Interreg North West Europe Call 9 Opens: Deadline 14th June 2019

Interreg North West Europe Programme ninth call for project proposals is now open.  The deadline for Step 1 applications is Friday 14 June 2019.  The application form and support documents are now available online.

The current call for proposals is only open to priority 1 and priority 3 of the NWE Programme. The Programme is looking for transnational cooperation projects that can deliver concrete results for the North-West Europe area and its citizens under its two priorities of Innovation and Resource and Materials Efficiency.

Priority 1: Innovation

Specific Objective 1: To enhance innovation performance of enterprises throughout NWE regions.

Within priority 1, and without excluding in any way other relevant topics for this priority, the NWE programme would welcome in particular projects dealing with:

  • Social innovation, including projects addressing the migration-related challenge, focusing on the integration of recognised refugees on the mid & long-term, in particular in the domain of entrepreneurship, employment and access to the labour market.
  • Innovative products, processes and technologies contributing to CO2 reduction and the green economy, including green transport, in line with the big societal challenges addressed by the Paris Agreement. 

Priority 3: Resource and materials efficiency

Specific Objective 5: To optimise (re)use of material and natural resources in NWE.

Within priority 3, the NWE programme is specifically interested in projects focusing on circular economy.

The Programme encourages public, scientific, private and civil society organisations to come together to improve the economic, environmental, territorial and social development of the regions in the North-West Europe area.

The application process is in two steps.  Step 1 focuses on the project need, its objectives and expected results.  If approved, it is developed into a full Step 2 application and success at this stage means full approval and a grant award of up to 60%.

For complete information about Call 9 please visit: www.nweurope.eu  Please contact Rita McGarvey, National Contact Point for Ireland for further information:

Email: rmcgarvey@southernassembly.ie
Tel: +353 51 860700
Twitter: @interreg_nwe

Interreg NWE is one of the fifteen transnational cooperation programmes financed by the European Union. It is financed through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).  The Southern Regional Assembly and the Eastern & Midlands Regional Assembly represent the Member State on the Programme’s Monitoring Committee. 

INEA launches 2019 CEF Call for Transport

On 8th January, INEA (Innovation and Networks Executive Agency) opened the 2019 CEF (Connecting Europe Facility) Transport for Proposals, making €100 million of funding available for projects of common interest in the transport sector. This is one of the last calls before the end of the current Multiannual Financial Framework 2014-2020.

The 2019 annual CEF call focuses on two priorities:

  • Removing bottlenecks and bridging missing links, enhancing rail interoperability and improving cross-border sections of roads, railways and maritime ports positioned on the comprehensive TEN-T network (€65 million available);
  • Reducing rail freight noise by supporting the retrofitting of existing freight wagons with brake blocks or disc brakes (€35 million available).

Both works and proposals for studies are eligible for financing under the call, with various co-funding rates applicable and ranging from 10% to 50%.

During the Information Day held on 17th January, INEA commented on the ongoing preparations for the next Multiannual Financial Framework, adding that almost all of the CEF budget for the current framework is committed.

Under the 2014-2017 calls, Irish applicants submitted 28 eligible proposals. 19 projects were selected, with Irish beneficiaries receiving €90.1 million of CEF Transport funding, and investing a total of €485.9 million in these projects.

Further details, as well as a breakdown of projects eligible for funding under this call are available by following this link.

Applications close on 24th April 2019.

Queries about the call can be directed to inea-cef-transport-infoday@ec.europa.eu

URBACT launches call for Action Planning Networks

The URBACT III Programme is looking for up to 23 new Action Planning networks, aiming to help cities in Europe find solutions to common urban challenges. Bringing together partners from different European countires to share experience and learn from each other, the partners will produce an Integrated Action Plan and have the opportunity to test some solutions in their cities.

It is an exciting journey of discovery, sharing and experimentation which will empower city stakeholders, change the way your city works and have a real impact at local level.

It is an exciting journey of discovery, sharing and experimentation which will empower city stakeholders, change the way your city works and have a real impact at local level.This is achieved using a tried and tested URBACT method of exchange and learning and support from experts.

Want to know more? URBACT is organising a number of information webinars and the full schedule, along with registration links, is available here.

The deadline for applications is 17th April 2019.

Click here to consult the Terms of Reference for the Call, access the Guide for Applicants and use the Partner Search Tool.

URBACT Infoday – Action Planning Networks

Would you like to learn more about the ongoing call for proposals for the creation of new Action Planning networks, which opened on 7th January?

WHEN: 22 January 2019

WHERE: Custom House, Dublin

REGISTRATION AND AGENDA: here

 

Over the last 10 years, URBACT has promoted mutual cooperation and exchange of experience across cities across Europe. It is an instrument of EU cohesion policy under the European Territorial Cooperation objective co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund and the national resources of the 28 EU Member States, Norway and Switzerland. The main objective of the program is to promote integrated and sustainable urban development by creating the conditions for cities to jointly develop solutions to similar problems, exchange experiences and share best practices.

URBACT – Monitoring Committee approves new transfer networks

URBACT’s Monitoring Committee approves 23 Transfer networks for Phase 2

Two projects with Irish partners have been approved in the process.

Kildare County Council will partake in ”Volunteering Cities”, a network aiming to make use of volunteerism to approach social exclusion and poverty at the community level via inter-generational collaboration, where different age groups of volunteers and individuals facing social problems work towards a sustainable improvement of the quality of life withing the local society.

Cork City Council will partner in a project called ”Playful Paradigm”. To promote a more healthy and sustainable society through innovative approach, partner authorities will engage in the concept of gamification, in turn engaging city stakeholders in urban development.

More about the above and other projects can be accessed through the URBACT website.

URBACT is part of European Territorial Cooperation, responsible for fostering sustainable integrated urban development in cities across Europe. Co-financed by the ERDF and the 28 Member States, URBACT’S mission is to enable cities to create innovative solutions to urban challenges through networking, learning and identifying good practices.

News from the CoR – 132nd Plenary

Committee of the Regions delegates from 28 Member States met on 5th and 6th December for the 132nd CoR plenary session in Brussels. It was a very busy plenary with 21 adopted opinions, a discussion with Commissioner Corina Cretu on the future of Cohesion Policy, as well as an update on Brexit from European Commission’s Michel Barnier.

 

Cllr Deirdre Forde’s opinion on the Single Market Programme adopted at CoR Plenary

132nd Plenary Session of the European Committee of the Regions

The CoR has called on the European Union to ensure that its plans to create a new single-market programme in 2021 have ‘’the flexibility to respond quickly and proactively to any disturbance in the functioning of the internal market or disruption in trade for SMEs that could, for example, result from the possible adverse impacts of Brexit’’.

The call for flexibility was one of a set of recommendations adopted during the plenary as part of an opinion on the proposed Single Market Programme prepared by Cllr Deirdre Forde (Cork County Council). The opinion was underpinned by the belief that opening up the services sector and digital economy across Europe could strengthen growth in local and regional economies.

While presenting her work, Cllr Forde noted that ‘’SME’s are the motor of the EU’s economy, creating 85% of new jobs over the past five years. We need to remove the handicaps on SMEs and enlarge the market for them. This is even more important because of the uncertainties of Brexit […] and because there will be (further) shocks to the economy’’. She also noted that ‘’the EU should be thinking small first as it pursues its ambition of a truly single market’’. Cllr Forde’s opinion also focused on the need to ensure adequate protection for consumer interests, particularly in the area of financial services.

‘’The EU should be thinking small first as it pursues its ambition of a truly single market’’.

The opinion was widely welcomed by CoR representatives and was adopted unanimously during the plenary. Cllr. Forde’s opinion brings to a total of eight the number of CoR opinions prepared by the Irish delegation in the current mandate.

 

Discussion on Brexit with EU’s Chief Brexit Negotiator Michel Barnier

132nd Plenary Session of the European Committee of the Regions

The second day of the CoR plenary began with a lively debate between the CoR Members and European Commission’s Chief Brexit Negotiator, Michel Barnier. Mr Barnier took the opportunity to update the CoR delegates on the current state of play, as well as addressing a number of issues raised by members over during the two hour debate. Six members of the Irish delegation contributed to this debate, praising the European Commission and Mr Barnier for his ongoing hard work as well as the commitment to avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland. Cllrs. Michael Murphy, Kate Feeney, Enda Stenson, Deirdre Forde and Declan McDonnell emphasised the importance of protecting the Good Friday Agreement, safeguarding livelihoods in border areas, and protecting Ireland’s trade routes with the rest of Europe. A full video of the debate can be found here.

Speaking about the agreement, Mr Barnier noted that ‘’it is a balanced deal; it is the only one and the best one possible […] and respects the EU’s principles, while taking into account the UK’s red lines’’.

To ensure no hard border on the island of Ireland, and to protect the Good Friday Agreement, the European Commission and UK agreed on a backstop mechanism, also referred to as the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland. As part of the Withdrawal Agreement, a single EU-UK customs territory is established from the end of the transition period until the future relationship becomes applicable. This means that Northern Ireland will remain part of the same customs territory as the rest of the UK with no tariffs, quotas or checks between NI and the rest of the UK.

The Withdrawal Agreement establishes a single EU/UK customs territory if no other solution to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland can be found by the end of the transition period. At the same time, Northern Ireland would also be subject to a regulatory union in order to avoid a hard border and to ensure that goods can continue to move freely across a soft border with no checks.  The European Commission has published a detailed factsheet on the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland, which is now available online.

 

Debate with Commissioner Cretu on regional perspectives of the future of Cohesion Policy in the upcoming Multiannual Financial Framework

The CoR plenary began with a debate on the future of Cohesion Policy with Commissioner Corina Cretu, with responsibility for regional policies.

129th Plenary Session of the European Committee of the Regions

Cohesion policy, with a budget of €351bn in the 2014-2020 programming period, is and will remain the key tool to promote economic, social and territorial cohesion. Representing 34% of the overall EU budget, the funds help reduce disparities and deliver more opportunities for all European citizens across towns and cities.

While negotiations to fully adopt cohesion policy for the 2021-2027 framework are ongoing, the Committee of the Regions calls the co-legislators for simplification of the current rules and committing to no reduction in the level of funding. During the plenary session, the CoR delegation adopted a number of opinions on the future of cohesion policy, including Common Provision Regulation (CPR), European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and Cohesion, Fund, European Social Fund (ESF+) and European Territorial Cooperation (ETC).

Commissioner Cretu noted that ‘’the valuable work of the European Committee of the Regions on the future of cohesion policy has contributed to setting the pace for the negotiations’’ and she also welcomed the ‘’constructive approach regarding the Commission’s proposal, in particular the support for a strong partnership principle’’.

MATCH-UP, the role of modal interchange to foster low-carbon mobility

  • Local Transport is crucial to control air pollution and maintain low level of pollutants in our regions
  • The project aims at fostering multimodality at local level to improve public transport

With increasing levels of air pollution, CO2 emissions and traffic congestion in the EU the development of sustainable multimodal mobility becomes one of the EU key challenges. Therefore, the Southern Regional Assembly as a partner in the MATCH-UP project is investigating the integrated strategies that are needed to enhance an effective modal interchange and a higher integration between land use and transport planning processes.

The Southern Regional Assembly hosted the first Irish stakeholder MATCH-UP event in Dublin in October 2018 which was attended by policy makers, national authorities, regional and local authorities, researchers and third level institutions to discuss how to improve local mobility in terms of multimodality and sustainable modes of transport and who strongly agreed that MATCH-UP is relevant for the development of a low carbon strategy for their region, county or city.

MATCH-UP focuses on the optimisation of the places where people change between transport modes, in particular, four main types of low-carbon means of transport: Walking/Cycling, rail transport, green vehicles and public transport. MATCH-UP, a four and a half-year, 5-partners project was approved for a grant of €0.9m by the Interreg Europe Programme late last year and commenced in July 2018 at a meeting in Bologna.

The partnership consists of 4 European regions – Southern & Eastern Ireland, County of Northeim, Germany, Municipality of Funchal, Portugal and Timisoara Municipality, Romania who are working together to share experience, solutions, and good practice to develop and deliver better public policy to reduce carbon emissions and support low carbon urban mobility in designated urban centres.

MATCH-UP is part-funded by the Interreg Europe Programme through the European Regional Development Fund and led by the University of Bologna in Italy.

For further information contact Ms Rose Power, EU Projects Officer, Southern Regional Assembly, rpower@southernassembly.ie

Project co-ordinator – Match-up@unibo.it

MARIE – Mainstreaming Responsible Innovation in Europe

More citizens are involved in science through public engagement. Natural scientists and social scientists have formed collaborations. Users are leading innovation. Open access trends are changing the publishing system. Gender equality has gained political momentum. Together, these efforts form a European-wide approach called Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI). It implies that all of society (researchers, citizens, policy makers, businesses, educational institutions, etc) work together during the whole of a research and innovation process to better align the process and its outcomes with the values, needs and expectations of society which is inclusive and creates sustainable research and innovation. The Southern Regional Assembly as a partner in the MARIE project is seeking to improve regional public policies that supports the delivery of Responsible Research and innovation in Smart Specialisation Strategy (S3) sectors.

MARIE, a 5 year, 10-partners project was approved for a grant of €1.62m by the Interreg Europe Programme in 2016 and commenced in February 2017 at a meeting in Cesena, Italy.

The Southern Regional Assembly hosted the MARIE mid-term event in Dublin in October 2018 with over 25 international participants from 7 European countries.  The event provided participants with the opportunity for international learning by sharing strategies, initiatives and RRI presentations from 5 European projects including RRI-Practice, SMART-map, MARINA, RRING and COMPASS.  In addition, participants also attended the Responsible Innovation Summit with expert presentations on responsible investments, responsible data-driven innovation, responsible businesses and ethical impact assessments.

MARIE is part-funded by the Interreg Europe Programme through the European Regional Development Fund and led by CISE – Special Agency of the Chamber of Commerce of Flori-Cesena in Italy. 

For more about the MARIE project go to – www.interregeurope.eu/marie/

For further information contact Ms Rose Power, Southern Regional Assembly, rpower@southernassembly.ie

Project co-ordinator: gbubbolini@vciseonweb.it