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Guidelines for foresight-based policy analysis

26-07-2021

Policy analysis examines and assesses problems to determine possible courses for policy action (policy options). In highly complex or controversial contexts, evidence-based policy options might not be socially acceptable. Here, policy analysis can benefit from a foresight-based approach, which helps investigate the issue holistically and assess considered evidence-based policy options against societal concerns. This is especially important in a parliamentary setting, as it enables analysts to consider ...

Policy analysis examines and assesses problems to determine possible courses for policy action (policy options). In highly complex or controversial contexts, evidence-based policy options might not be socially acceptable. Here, policy analysis can benefit from a foresight-based approach, which helps investigate the issue holistically and assess considered evidence-based policy options against societal concerns. This is especially important in a parliamentary setting, as it enables analysts to consider stakeholder views and geographical concerns/differences when assessing policy options. This manual establishes the methodology for the foresight process and foresight-informed policy analysis. It offers a conceptual clarification of foresight and foresight-based technology assessment, helps enhance the transparency of foresight processes and the quality of policy analyses, offers four general guidelines for conducting trustworthy policy analysis, and, finally, provides a practical framework with six basic components for foresight-based policy analysis.

Artificial Intelligence in smart cities and urban mobility

23-07-2021

Artificial Intelligence (AI) enabling smart urban solutions brings multiple benefits, including more efficient energy, water and waste management, reduced pollution, noise and traffic congestions. Local authorities face relevant challenges undermining the digital transformation from the technological, social and regulatory standpoint, namely (i) technology and data availability and reliability, the dependency on third private parties and the lack of skills; (ii) ethical challenges for the unbiased ...

Artificial Intelligence (AI) enabling smart urban solutions brings multiple benefits, including more efficient energy, water and waste management, reduced pollution, noise and traffic congestions. Local authorities face relevant challenges undermining the digital transformation from the technological, social and regulatory standpoint, namely (i) technology and data availability and reliability, the dependency on third private parties and the lack of skills; (ii) ethical challenges for the unbiased use of AI; and (iii) the difficulty of regulating interdependent infrastructures and data, respectively. To overcome the identified challenges, the following actions are recommended: • EU-wide support for infrastructure and governance on digitalisation, including high performance computing, integrated circuits, CPUs and GPU’s, 5G, cloud services, Urban Data Platforms, enhancing efficiency and ensuring at the same time unbiased data collection. • Inclusion of urban AI in EU research programs addressing data exchange, communication networks and policy on mobility and energy, enhancing capacity building initiatives, also through test and experimentation facilities. • Harmonising AI related policies in the EU, taking into account the context specificity: necessary research. • Adoption of innovative procurement procedures, entailing requirements for technical and ethically responsible AI.

Autore esterno

Devin DIRAN, Anne Fleur VAN VEENSTRA, Tjerk TIMAN, Paola TESTA and Maria KIROVA

What if we could fight coronavirus by pooling computing power?

15-07-2021

Distributed computing has accelerated COVID-19 research in molecular dynamics as it allows people to make their computers voluntarily available to scientists for virtually screening chemical compounds in an effective manner.

Distributed computing has accelerated COVID-19 research in molecular dynamics as it allows people to make their computers voluntarily available to scientists for virtually screening chemical compounds in an effective manner.

Connecting Europe Facility 2021-2027: Financing key EU infrastructure networks

01-07-2021

The EU supports the development of high-performing, sustainable and interconnected trans-European networks in the areas of transport, energy and digital infrastructure. It set up the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) as a dedicated financing instrument for the 2014-2020 period, to channel EU funding into the development of infrastructure networks, help eliminate market failures and attract further investment from the public and private sectors. Following a mid-term evaluation, the European Commission ...

The EU supports the development of high-performing, sustainable and interconnected trans-European networks in the areas of transport, energy and digital infrastructure. It set up the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) as a dedicated financing instrument for the 2014-2020 period, to channel EU funding into the development of infrastructure networks, help eliminate market failures and attract further investment from the public and private sectors. Following a mid-term evaluation, the European Commission proposed to renew the programme under the long term EU budget for the 2021-2027 period. In the 2014-2019 term, the Council and the European Parliament provisionally agreed on the content, leaving aside the budget and the questions relating to third countries. Negotiations resumed in the present term, reflecting the Commission’s revised MFF proposal of May 2020 and the European Council conclusions of July 2020. Final details were agreed on 11 March 2021. The agreement has already been confirmed by the responsible parliamentary committees TRAN and ITRE, and the Council subsequently adopted its first-reading position on 14 June 2021. The Parliament is expected to vote at second reading during the July plenary session. Once adopted, the new CEF regulation will apply retroactively from 1 January 2021. Fifth edition. The 'EU Legislation in Progress' briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

The Nord Stream 2 pipeline: Economic, environmental and geopolitical issues

01-07-2021

The EU's dependence on Russian gas imports shows no signs of lessening. Although the Green Deal envisages a carbon-neutral Europe by 2050, natural gas remains a key part of the energy mix as coal is phased out and renewable energy is not yet ready to fully take up the slack. EU domestic gas production is fast declining, and there is not enough gas at affordable prices from alternative suppliers to replace Russian production. Launched in 2015, the Nord Stream 2 pipeline connects Russia and Germany ...

The EU's dependence on Russian gas imports shows no signs of lessening. Although the Green Deal envisages a carbon-neutral Europe by 2050, natural gas remains a key part of the energy mix as coal is phased out and renewable energy is not yet ready to fully take up the slack. EU domestic gas production is fast declining, and there is not enough gas at affordable prices from alternative suppliers to replace Russian production. Launched in 2015, the Nord Stream 2 pipeline connects Russia and Germany directly via the Baltic Sea, following a similar route to Nord Stream 1 completed in 2011. Construction has taken several years, with delays due to protracted legal battles and, since 2019, US sanctions. Nevertheless, pipe-laying continues and is on track for completion in the next few months. Few energy projects have ever been as hotly debated as Nord Stream 2. Pipeline owner Gazprom, a Russian state-controlled company, argues that it is needed to meet the EU's growing demand for gas imports. Germany's energy sector also sees the pipeline as a viable commercial project. Some opponents point to the environmental impact of the pipeline's construction, as well as the contradiction between the EU's climate goals and long-term investments in fossil fuel import infrastructure. However, the pipeline's geopolitical implications are its most controversial aspect. Critics, including several EU Member States, describe Nord Stream 2 as a Kremlin project to export malign Russian influence as well as gas to Europe. They note that, combined with the new TurkStream pipeline delivering Russian gas to south-eastern Europe, it will eventually enable Russia to starve Ukraine's ailing economy of much needed transit fee revenue. The pipeline looks set to perpetuate Russia's stranglehold on EU energy markets and compromise European strategic autonomy.

Environmental impacts of 5G

30-06-2021

Telecommunication networks use radio-frequency electromagnetic fields to enable wireless communication. These networks have evolved over time, and have been launched in successive generations. The fifth generation of telecommunication networks will operate at frequencies that were not commonly used in previous generations, changing the exposure of wildlife to these waves. This report reviews the literature on the exposure of vertebrates, invertebrates and plants to radio-frequency electromagnetic ...

Telecommunication networks use radio-frequency electromagnetic fields to enable wireless communication. These networks have evolved over time, and have been launched in successive generations. The fifth generation of telecommunication networks will operate at frequencies that were not commonly used in previous generations, changing the exposure of wildlife to these waves. This report reviews the literature on the exposure of vertebrates, invertebrates and plants to radio-frequency electromagnetic fields in anticipation of this change. The review shows that dielectric heating can occur at all considered frequencies (0.4-300 GHz) and for all studied organisms. Summarising and discussing the results of a series of studies of radio-frequency electromagnetic field exposure of wildlife, the review shows that several studies into the effects of radio-frequency electromagnetic field exposure on invertebrates and plants in the frequency bands considered demonstrate experimental shortcomings. Furthermore, the literature on invertebrate and plant exposure to radio-frequency electromagnetic fields above 6 GHz is very limited. More research is needed in this field.

Autore esterno

This study has been written by Arno Thielens, Ghent University, Belgium, at the request of the Panel for the Future of Science and Technology (STOA) and managed by the Scientific Foresight Unit, within the Directorate-General for Parliamentary Research Services (EPRS) of the Secretariat of the European Parliament.

South Korea's pledge to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050

28-06-2021

As part of its plan for recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, South Korea has launched its own Green New Deal. Announced in July 2020, this initiative will invest €54.3 billion mostly for enabling a shift to green infrastructure, low-carbon and decentralised energy, for spurring innovation in green industry and for creating 659 000 jobs. The plan will also support the commercial development of technology for large-scale carbon capture utilisation and storage (CCUS). In October 2020, South Korea's ...

As part of its plan for recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, South Korea has launched its own Green New Deal. Announced in July 2020, this initiative will invest €54.3 billion mostly for enabling a shift to green infrastructure, low-carbon and decentralised energy, for spurring innovation in green industry and for creating 659 000 jobs. The plan will also support the commercial development of technology for large-scale carbon capture utilisation and storage (CCUS). In October 2020, South Korea's President, Moon Jae-in, declared that the country would aim to reach carbon neutrality by 2050. He vowed to end dependence on coal and replace it with renewables as part of the Green New Deal. In December 2020, the government adopted a carbon-neutral strategy to chart a path towards a sustainable and green society. This strategy will support innovative climate technologies that will help South Korea achieve carbon neutrality and set a global example of success in accomplishing this goal. In December 2020, Seoul updated its nationally determined contribution (NDC) under the Paris Agreement. The target remains unchanged: by 2030, South Korea is to reduce its total greenhouse gas emissions by 24.4 % compared to 2017 levels. Aware of criticism about the country's weak ambition regarding emissions reduction, in May 2021 Moon Jae-in declared that a more ambitious target would be announced at the COP26 conference on climate change in Glasgow in November. Despite the relatively low levels of funding that South Korea has allocated to developing countries, it is taking ambitious action to demonstrate international leadership on climate change: in May 2021, it hosted the P4G summit focused on public–private partnerships, which yielded the Seoul Declaration. Climate change provisions in the EU–South Korea framework agreement highlight largely unused potential for cooperation; so far, these provisions have only been used for channelling EU support to Seoul's emissions trading scheme, for running a three-year EU-Korea climate action project and for holding the meetings of the joint working group on energy, environment and climate change.

Review of the Energy Taxation Directive

18-05-2021

Under the European Green Deal, the EU signed up for the transition to a modern, resource-efficient and competitive economy with no net emissions of greenhouse gases in 2050 and economic growth decoupled from resource use. As a medium target towards the 'net zero' long-term goal, the EU committed to at least 55% GHG emission reductions by 2030. Well-designed energy taxation can play a direct role in steering a successful energy transition. However, as this briefing shows, Council Directive 2003/96 ...

Under the European Green Deal, the EU signed up for the transition to a modern, resource-efficient and competitive economy with no net emissions of greenhouse gases in 2050 and economic growth decoupled from resource use. As a medium target towards the 'net zero' long-term goal, the EU committed to at least 55% GHG emission reductions by 2030. Well-designed energy taxation can play a direct role in steering a successful energy transition. However, as this briefing shows, Council Directive 2003/96/EC restructuring the Community framework for the taxation of energy products and electricity (ETD) and its implementation suffer from significant shortcomings (i.a. highly divergent national tax rates across the EU, a wide range of exemptions and reductions applied by the Member States and a lack of alignment with other EU climate and energy legislation). The Commission therefore plans to review the ETD in the second quarter of 2021.

Trans-European energy infrastructure guidelines: Updating the current framework

26-04-2021

This briefing provides an initial analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the European Commission's impact assessment (IA) accompanying the above-mentioned proposal, adopted on 15 December 2020 and referred to Parliament's Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE). The proposal seeks to amend Regulation (EU) No 347/2013 on guidelines for trans-European energy infrastructure (TEN E) with a view to ensure that the existing framework is consistent with, and contributes to, the new 2030 EU ...

This briefing provides an initial analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the European Commission's impact assessment (IA) accompanying the above-mentioned proposal, adopted on 15 December 2020 and referred to Parliament's Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE). The proposal seeks to amend Regulation (EU) No 347/2013 on guidelines for trans-European energy infrastructure (TEN E) with a view to ensure that the existing framework is consistent with, and contributes to, the new 2030 EU climate target, set out in COM(2020) 562, commonly known as the 2030 EU climate target plan, with the ultimate objective of achieving an economy with net-zero greenhouse gas emissions (i.e. climate neutrality) by 2050, and in line with the Commission communication on the European Green Deal, COM(2019) 640.

Carbon-free steel production: Cost reduction options and usage of existing gas infrastructure

26-04-2021

The steel sector is one of the most challenging sectors to decarbonise and has recently received special attention owing to the potential use of low-carbon hydrogen (green and blue) to reduce its fuel combustion and process-related carbon emissions. This report addresses concerns that might arise while evaluating the potential and limitations of the future role of hydrogen in decarbonising the iron and steel industries. The report provides a comprehensive overview of current technical knowledge, ...

The steel sector is one of the most challenging sectors to decarbonise and has recently received special attention owing to the potential use of low-carbon hydrogen (green and blue) to reduce its fuel combustion and process-related carbon emissions. This report addresses concerns that might arise while evaluating the potential and limitations of the future role of hydrogen in decarbonising the iron and steel industries. The report provides a comprehensive overview of current technical knowledge, (pilot) projects and road maps at national and EU level. This information is supplemented by previously published indicative price projections for the various steel production routes and a long-term study, analysing the evolution of the global steel sector up until 2100.

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