17 December 2013
Investing in science, research and innovation is crucial to restoring our competitiveness. ECR MEPs play a leading role in promoting policies that allow our world leading scientists and researchers to cooperate with international partners and compete on the global stage.
MAIN ECR PRIORITIES
Investing in science, research and innovation is crucial to restoring our competitiveness. ECR MEPs play a leading role in promoting policies that allow our world leading scientists and researchers to cooperate with international partners and compete on the global stage. We were successful in keeping “excellence” as the key criterion for awarding EU research funding under Horizon 2020- guaranteeing support for the leading and most cutting edge of ideas. ECR MEPs’ energy policy approach is based on security, competitiveness and sustainability.
Events over the past few years have highlighted the importance of energy security to consumers and the economy and we cannot therefore take it for granted. Our energy security will come from diversifying our energy system and making it more flexible, supported by the right domestic and cross border infrastructure. As a net importer of energy we believe the EU and its Member States should have a greater focus on harnessing our own indigenous energy sources, be it is shale gas or offshore wind. This would not only have a positive effect on energy security but also contribute significantly to economic growth and also local economies.
The EU’s third energy package (2009) signalled a commitment in Europe to liberalise energy markets, resulting in more open and transparent markets. As a group we support the development of liberalised markets and believe that competition will drive down energy prices, benefiting households and also European industry, particularly those sectors exposed to carbon leakage. We want to see the emergence of low emission energy generation where there is grid parity and different technologies can compete fairly on cost, which will again reduce the pressure on energy bills.
Increasing the amount of energy we obtain from low emission energy technologies, such as renewables and nuclear, and reducing emissions through the deployment of carbon capture and storage (CCS) will significantly boost the sustainability of our energy supply. This will require significant investment in infrastructure and also research and innovation as we move to truly mature and competitive technologies that offer a viable alternative to carbon based power generation.
Cutting energy consumption through energy efficiency is fundamental to our climate policy goals, contributes to energy security and saves money for households and can substantially reduce long term operating costs in businesses. Cost effective investment in energy efficiency measures is a huge business opportunity in terms of knowledge, innovation and technology. We do not support the introduction of a binding energy efficiency target at EU level as we believe that Member States must be offered flexibility to determine their own policies based on their specific needs and capabilities.
Indigenous energy resources
It is vital for energy security and competitiveness that we make the most of our indigenous energy reserves, be it offshore oil or emerging shale gas opportunities. We believe that European and national legislation must facilitate the development of these existing and emerging markets whilst also providing the highest levels of protection for people and the environment.
Research, Development and Innovation
We see our research needs as focussing on two specific challenges, providing sustainable energy and ensuring the supply of safe, secure and affordable energy. These challenges should be considered jointly given that concerns over energy security are increasing the viability of domestically produced low emission energy. Horizon 2020, the EU’s flagship research programme, will allocate significant resources to energy focussed research in areas such as hydrogen fuel cells in vehicles, CCS and renewable energy. Another crucially important research project is the ITER nuclear fusion research reactor which is funded by the EU and other international partners, including the US, Russia, China and Japan. We view ITER as a key research project that, in the future, has the potential to be a significant source of clean sustainable energy.
Carbon Capture and Storage
We believe that failing to include CCS within our long-term energy strategy will severely hamper national, Union and global efforts to address GHG emissions. The Commission’s Energy 2050 Roadmap recognises the important role that CCS will play in the coming decades as fossil fuels will continue to retain a prominent place within the energy mix. Investment in CCS demonstration and deployment has been hampered by, amongst others, the EU’s binding renewable energy target drawing investment to other mandated areas and also the under-delivery of the ETS. More specifically we have asked the Commission and Member States to address other barriers to CCS deployment, such as financing, establishing a CCS skills base and developing and proving the technology for effective capture, transport and storage.
We believe that nuclear energy should form a key component of our long term energy strategy, given its potential both low-carbon and security goals. The ECR group has consistently called on the Commission to take a more positive stance on the significant contribution nuclear energy can make to our long term goals and our amendment to this end has been adopted in the ITRE committee .
A Resilient Energy Union with a Forward-Looking Climate Change Policy
Much has been made of the ‘energy union’ and we look forward to seeing the substance translated into tangible policy. We believe that any energy union must be underpinned by a well-functioning internal energy market where barriers to the market are removed via an increase in interconnectors and an updated transmission system that enhances the trading of energy throughout the EU. Policies must respect the right of member states to determine their own energy mix.
The idea of ‘collective purchasing’ of gas and other energy products has generated much debate in recent months and needs further clarification. We must ensure that further cooperation regarding energy negotiations go hand in hand with reinforcing competition within the internal market – which we must view as key to security of supply in the long-term as well as contributing to our diversification goals.
The ECR notes the recent agreement at the European Council meeting in October 2014 on the 2030 climate and energy policy. We particularly welcome the absence of binding renewable targets per Member State as the current targets have proved to be inflexible, costly and have throttled investment in other low carbon energy technologies such as CCS. However, in the context of this framework, it is imperative that provisions to protect industrial sectors at risk of carbon leakage be maintained. The ECR would also like to see an increase in exploitation in Europe’s indigenous energy sources as key element of the EU energy union.
SCIENCE AND RESEARCH
Investing in science, research and innovation is crucial to restoring our competitiveness. ECR MEPs play a leading role in promoting policies that allow our world leading scientists and researchers to cooperate with international partners and compete on the global stage. We were successful in keeping “excellence” as the key criterion for awarding EU research funding under Horizon 2020- guaranteeing support for the leading and most cutting edge of ideas.
Within a smaller overall EU budget we want to see better value for money, including a greater funding for science and technology. This will help us to support the research and innovation needed to meet today’s economic challenges.
It is vital that EU research funding is awarded on the basis of excellence. Money must go to the best projects. Increasing participation is important but not at the cost of excellence.
We must facilitate more industry participation in EU programmes. This is particularly important for innovative SMEs who may not have access to the necessary capital, EU money could be used to leverage their investment and enable important projects that would otherwise not have materialised.
Unfortunately these programmes have become incredibly bureaucratic, and our scientists have too often been put off by the mountain of paperwork facing them when they take part in EU funded programmes, as well as the high costs to even apply. ECR MEPs have successfully campaigned to remove a number of bureaucratic burdens, simplified application procedures and cutting the time to award grants.
We continue to monitor the Commission and EU decisions closely to ensure unnecessary processes do not creep back in. Furthermore, it is increasingly important to insist on transparency in all areas, from the initial bidding process through the duration of projects and finally the publishing of results.
We are pleased at the success of the European Research Council, who launch cutting edge research projects, and with its budget increase we will continue to press our institutions to continue to take even more of a lead in their frontier research projects. High quality research is however only one step in the process and we will therefore actively encourage and support innovative projects and companies, small and large, in order to facilitate the transfer of research knowledge into job and wealth-creating enterprises.
ECR MEPs want to see more cross border trade in e-commerce, making the most of the benefits offered by the digital single market. We will continue to support competition and promote investment in high-speed broadband networks and that latest wireless offerings, that will in particular help to boost coverage in rural areas. We are leading a campaign to oppose a recently published attempt to power-grab by the European Commission which risks more centralised control of EU telecoms regulation. We believe that national regulators are best placed to make their own decisions on issues such as licencing and broadband roll-out. They should in turn work with other European Regulators to provide a dynamic and open single market in communications.
Mobile roaming charges have come down significantly as a result of direct pressure from ECR MEPs and we will continue to press mobile companies so that there will soon be no difference in cost when using your phone abroad.
Combatting cybercrime has fast become serious issue for all governments, businesses and consumers and we will support measures that bring national cybercrime bodies together so that we can level standards up across the EU: in the cyber-world we are often only as strong as our weakest link.
ECR Members of the ITRE Committee:
– Hans-Olaf HENKEL MEP, (DE), Committee Vice-Chairman
– Marek GRÓBARCZYK MEP, (PL) ECR Coordinator
– Evžen TOŠENOVSKÝ MEP, (CS) ECR Deputy Coordinator.
– Nikolay BAREKOV MEP (BG)
– Ashley FOX MEP (UK)
– Dawid JACKIEWICZ MEP (PL)
– Pirkko RUOHONEN-LERNERMEP (FI)
– Notis MARIAS MEP (GR)
– Anneleen VAN BOSSUYT MEP (BE)
– Ian DUNCAN MEP (UK)
– Brian CROWLEY MEP (IRL)
– Morten MESSERSCHMIDT MEP (DK)
CURRENT WORK BY ECR MEMBERS
Marek Gróbarczyk has been working on a number of important files since the beginning of this parliamentary term, including the controversial proposal for establishment of the Market Stability Reserve (MSR) within the framework of European Trading Scheme (ETS). Marek guaranteed that the industry perspective was voiced in ITRE discussions on future functioning of the reserve. He called for more flexibility to be introduced into the ETS by guaranteeing that Member States are free to use profits coming from the sale of CO2 allowances in a way that best responds to their energy sectors’ real needs.
Ashley Fox has been our specialist on SMEs. He has been battling for cutting administrative red tape for small businesses as well as making it easier for them to benefit from EU funds. Recently, he has also been appointed the ECR shadow rapporteur for the key file addressing EU’s energy security.
Evžen Tošenovský has led in the previous term for the ECR a number of key reports in the ITRE Committee, including Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) as the rapporteur for the Trans European Telecommunications Networks and shadow rapporteur for the Energy networks. Evžen provides expertise in the area of space policy with emphasis on satellite navigation. Recently, he has been appointed the ECR shadow rapporteur for the ITRE opinion on European Fund for Strategic Investments (the so-called Juncker plan) aiming to re-boost economic growth in Europe.
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