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Policy area
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Date

Adapting to new digital realities: Main issues and policy responses

19-04-2018

Digital technologies have changed the way we live and transformed the world around us at unprecedented speed. They have affected all important aspects of life, both at work and at home, and have influenced almost everything from human relations to the economy, to the extent that access to the internet has now become a basic human right recognised by the United Nations. This profound change presents both opportunities and threats to our society. Citizens need specific skills and access to be able ...

Digital technologies have changed the way we live and transformed the world around us at unprecedented speed. They have affected all important aspects of life, both at work and at home, and have influenced almost everything from human relations to the economy, to the extent that access to the internet has now become a basic human right recognised by the United Nations. This profound change presents both opportunities and threats to our society. Citizens need specific skills and access to be able to meaningfully take part in society and work. European businesses need an adequate policy framework and infrastructure to capture the enormous value created by the digital economy. Supporting innovation, removing barriers in the digital single market, and effectively managing and using data are the necessary tools to assist them and boost economic growth in Europe. The European Union takes an active part in shaping the digital economy and society, with cross policy initiatives that range from boosting investment, through reforms of copyright and e privacy, to removal of geo-blocking and development of e-government. This multifaceted approach is necessary to facilitate adaptation to complex new realities. The European Parliament, as co legislator, is involved in shaping the policy framework which will help citizens and businesses fully utilise the potential of digital technologies.

Preparing FP9: Designing the successor to the Horizon 2020 research and innovation framework programme

11-04-2018

The preparation process for an EU framework programme for research and innovation includes a variety of activities: evaluation of the previous programme; expert studies to define the scope and priorities of the new programme; and proposals for new instruments. The EU institutions, the advisory committees, the Member States and other stakeholders also put their expectations and opinions forward on the shape and content of the programme. This paper provides an overview of all the activities developed ...

The preparation process for an EU framework programme for research and innovation includes a variety of activities: evaluation of the previous programme; expert studies to define the scope and priorities of the new programme; and proposals for new instruments. The EU institutions, the advisory committees, the Member States and other stakeholders also put their expectations and opinions forward on the shape and content of the programme. This paper provides an overview of all the activities developed to contribute to the preparation of FP9. It also analyses the position of all the actors on 10 key discussion points including: the difficult battle over the FP9 budget; the tensions between support for excellence and the need for cohesion; streamlining of instruments and simplification of processes; requests for greater EU added value from the programme, linked to its collaborative nature; the role of the Member States in the programme's governance and implementation; and the expected innovations: the European Innovation Council and a mission-oriented approach.

Interim evaluation of Horizon 2020

21-03-2018

As required by the regulation, the interim evaluation of Horizon 2020 – the European Union (EU) framework programme (FP) for research and innovation – began in October 2016 with a public consultation to gather feedback from stakeholders three years in. The Commission performed its own mid-term evaluation and asked experts to evaluate the programme's specific instruments. In parallel, the European Parliament, the Council of the EU and the advisory committees conducted their own, separate evaluations ...

As required by the regulation, the interim evaluation of Horizon 2020 – the European Union (EU) framework programme (FP) for research and innovation – began in October 2016 with a public consultation to gather feedback from stakeholders three years in. The Commission performed its own mid-term evaluation and asked experts to evaluate the programme's specific instruments. In parallel, the European Parliament, the Council of the EU and the advisory committees conducted their own, separate evaluations of the programme. The Commission adopted its conclusions on the interim evaluation of Horizon 2020 in January 2018, confirming that the programme was relevant and presented clear EU added value. Implementation was considered to be efficient and the first results suggested that the programme was also effective in reaching its objectives. The integration of research and innovation and the Horizon 2020 pillar structure provided for greater internal coherence compared with previous framework programmes. All the evaluations highlighted four key issues to be addressed by the next FP. First, the programme budget needs to match better the funding required to bring the success rate back to acceptable levels. Second, the unbalanced distribution of FP funding across the EU raises concerns regarding the impact of the use of the excellence criterion and calls for changes to enable the various EU funds to generate more synergistic effects so as to maintain EU competitiveness and promote EU cohesion in research and innovation. Third, the evaluations highlight the will to improve the shared, multi-level governance between the EU, Member States and regions and to promote the co-design and co-construction of the FP with the public and civil society. Finally, there is widespread agreement that the EU research and innovation funding landscape has become too complex and should be streamlined, questioning the EU added value of each of the instruments and partnerships.

EU framework programme processes: Adoption, implementation, evaluation

17-01-2018

Over the past 35 years, the European Union (EU) institutions have adopted eight framework programmes for research. The lifecycles of these framework programmes have been progressively streamlined and aligned with the general guidelines for the adoption of EU programmes. These lifecycles unfold in four key phases: adoption, implementation, execution, and evaluation, with the EU institutions being in charge of all phases except execution. The adoption of a new framework programme includes the preparation ...

Over the past 35 years, the European Union (EU) institutions have adopted eight framework programmes for research. The lifecycles of these framework programmes have been progressively streamlined and aligned with the general guidelines for the adoption of EU programmes. These lifecycles unfold in four key phases: adoption, implementation, execution, and evaluation, with the EU institutions being in charge of all phases except execution. The adoption of a new framework programme includes the preparation of an impact assessment, the preparation of the Commission proposals and the adoption of the various legislative acts by the European Parliament and the Council to establish the programme. The implementation phase covers the adoption of the work programmes and the selection of the projects to be funded. Following the execution of the research and innovation activities, the evaluation phase aims to assess the outcomes of the programmes and whether the initial objectives have been met. In 2018, a new cycle is expected to start for the adoption of the ninth framework programme for research and innovation (FP9) to be effective by 2020. Understanding the processes that take place under each phase of this cycle is important for the preparation and adoption of the key legislative acts, establishing (1) the framework programme itself, (2) the specific programmes for implementation, and (3) the rules for participation, and for dissemination of the programme's results.

Understanding artificial intelligence

11-01-2018

Artificial intelligence (AI) systems already permeate daily life: they drive cars, decide on mortgage applications, translate texts, recognise faces on social networks, identify spam emails, create artworks, play games, and intervene in conflict zones. The AI revolution that began in the 2000s emerged from the combination of machine learning techniques and 'big data'. The algorithms behind these systems work by identifying statistical correlation in the data they analyse, enabling them to perform ...

Artificial intelligence (AI) systems already permeate daily life: they drive cars, decide on mortgage applications, translate texts, recognise faces on social networks, identify spam emails, create artworks, play games, and intervene in conflict zones. The AI revolution that began in the 2000s emerged from the combination of machine learning techniques and 'big data'. The algorithms behind these systems work by identifying statistical correlation in the data they analyse, enabling them to perform tasks for which intelligence is required if a human were to perform them. Nevertheless, data-driven AI can only perform one task at a time, and cannot transfer its knowledge. 'Strong AI', able to display human-like intelligence and common sense, and which might be able to set its own goals, is not yet within reach. Despite the fears portrayed in film and TV entertainment, the idea of a 'superintelligence' able to self-improve and dominate humans remains an esoteric possibility, as development of strong AI systems is not predicted for a few decades or more, if indeed development ever reaches this stage. Nevertheless, the development of data-driven AI systems implies adaptation of legal frameworks on the collection, use and storage of data, due to privacy and other issues. Bias in data supplied to AI systems can also reproduce or amplify bias in the decisions they make. However, the key issue remains the level of autonomy given to AI systems to make decisions that could be life-changing, keeping in mind that they only provide recommendations, that they do not understand the tasks they perform, and that there is no way to know how they reach their conclusions. AI systems are expected to impact society, especially the job market, and could increase inequalities. To counter the abuse of probabilistic prediction and the risks to privacy, in April 2016 the European Parliament and the Council of the EU adopted the General Data Protection Regulation. The European Parliament also requested an update of the Union legal framework on robotics and AI in February 2017.

Understanding nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles

28-09-2017

Nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles need to be understood if the risks and challenges they entail are to be grasped. This understanding starts with two processes discovered in the last century – nuclear fission and nuclear fusion – that have the ability to release a significant quantity of energy from a very limited amount of matter. On the one hand, these reactions can be used to produce energy. Controlled nuclear fission is the process on which nuclear power plants are based. Nuclear fusion, ...

Nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles need to be understood if the risks and challenges they entail are to be grasped. This understanding starts with two processes discovered in the last century – nuclear fission and nuclear fusion – that have the ability to release a significant quantity of energy from a very limited amount of matter. On the one hand, these reactions can be used to produce energy. Controlled nuclear fission is the process on which nuclear power plants are based. Nuclear fusion, meanwhile, requires the ability to control a reaction that occurs at temperatures of millions of degrees. The control of nuclear fusion for energy production is the objective of the ITER project. On the other hand, uncontrolled nuclear fission and fusion reactions can be used to design nuclear weapons whose destructive power is far greater than traditional weapons. The first atomic bombs were produced and used during World War Two and based on nuclear fission. Since then, the design of nuclear weapons has been modified to include nuclear fusion reactions, leading to a sharp increase in the yield of nuclear bombs. The development of nuclear weapons requires mastery of technologies for the production of nuclear fuels (enriched uranium and plutonium), making access to these weapons limited. Advances in the production and design of nuclear weapons have made them smaller and suitable for mounting in the warheads of ballistic missiles. These missiles, whose functioning is similar to space rockets, can deliver their charge at a very long range (up to 15 000 km for intercontinental ballistic missiles).

Partnership for Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean Area (PRIMA)

26-09-2017

Following a request made by nine Member States in December 2014, on 18 October 2016 the European Commission adopted a proposal to establish a new public-public Partnership for Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean Area (PRIMA) under Article 185 TFEU. PRIMA would focus on two key socioeconomic issues that are important for the region: food systems and water resources. The decision adopted by the European Parliament and the Council in July 2017 establishes the partnership for a period of 10 ...

Following a request made by nine Member States in December 2014, on 18 October 2016 the European Commission adopted a proposal to establish a new public-public Partnership for Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean Area (PRIMA) under Article 185 TFEU. PRIMA would focus on two key socioeconomic issues that are important for the region: food systems and water resources. The decision adopted by the European Parliament and the Council in July 2017 establishes the partnership for a period of 10 years, and provides PRIMA with €220 million in EU funds from the Horizon 2020 framework programme for research, to match the commitments of the participating states. The proposal introduces derogations to the rules concerning participation in Horizon 2020 in order to allow third countries to join the partnerships. Fourth edition. The ‘EU Legislation in Progress’ briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure. Please note this document has been designed for on-line viewing.

EU framework programmes for research and innovation: Evolution and key data from FP1 to Horizon 2020 in view of FP9

20-09-2017

The framework programme for research was originally set up in the 1980s to streamline the adoption of Community research programmes. With the subsequent iterations of the process and Treaty modifications, the framework programme became a financial and strategic tool to support and implement EU research and innovation policies. As the scope of the framework programme widened and with the multiplication of the type of instruments used to implement it, the framework programme progressively supported ...

The framework programme for research was originally set up in the 1980s to streamline the adoption of Community research programmes. With the subsequent iterations of the process and Treaty modifications, the framework programme became a financial and strategic tool to support and implement EU research and innovation policies. As the scope of the framework programme widened and with the multiplication of the type of instruments used to implement it, the framework programme progressively supported all activities of the innovation process, research being just one of them. As the discussions on the structure and content of FP9 are expected to begin in autumn 2017, this paper reflects on the evolution of the framework programme since its origin and points out key issues that will be debated in the coming years among the European institutions, the Member States and stakeholders regarding the structure of the framework programme, its objectives and its implementation.

EU participation in the PRIMA partnership

07-06-2017

The European Parliament is expected to vote on the decision to allow the financial participation of the European Union in the Partnership for Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean Area (PRIMA) during the June 2017 plenary. This public-public partnership would support collaborative research and innovation projects on agro-food systems and water management between institutions of the EU and of third countries around the Mediterranean shore. The Union contribution under Horizon 2020 could reach ...

The European Parliament is expected to vote on the decision to allow the financial participation of the European Union in the Partnership for Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean Area (PRIMA) during the June 2017 plenary. This public-public partnership would support collaborative research and innovation projects on agro-food systems and water management between institutions of the EU and of third countries around the Mediterranean shore. The Union contribution under Horizon 2020 could reach a maximum of €220 million over 10 years.

European Technology Platforms

17-05-2017

European Technology Platforms (ETP) were the first type of public-private partnership established in the research field at European level. These industry-led stakeholders' fora define and implement a strategic research agenda (SRA) aiming at aligning research priorities in a technological area. Without dedicated funding, ETPs remain coordination and advisory structures, helping to define the topics of research programmes at European, national and regional level.

European Technology Platforms (ETP) were the first type of public-private partnership established in the research field at European level. These industry-led stakeholders' fora define and implement a strategic research agenda (SRA) aiming at aligning research priorities in a technological area. Without dedicated funding, ETPs remain coordination and advisory structures, helping to define the topics of research programmes at European, national and regional level.

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18-10-2018
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