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European Parliament hearing of Commissioner Designate Mariya Gabriel demonstrates international partnerships will be key component of future EU research programmes

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The European Parliament hearing last night (30 September) of Commissioner Designate Mariya Gabriel was both highly impressive and exciting. Mariya Gabriel will have responsibility for the smooth running of Horizon Europe during the financial period 2021-2027. This is the flagship instrument that the EU will be using to promote research, innovation and science policies across the different member states of the European Union. It is clear to me that the European Commission will be supporting basic scientific effort right through the value chain that will, in turn, deliver innovative products and solutions into the EU marketplace, writes Julio Kongyu, vice president for Europe Public Affairs, Huawei Technologies.

Horizon Europe 2021-2027 is an economic policy instrument. It can support the key economic and social policy objectives of the European Union. It will be used to advance stronger regional policies in Europe while at the same time promoting sustainability and combating climate change. The practical operation of Horizon Europe will, in effect, cut across many important and different policy domains.

The European Research Council (ERC), the European Institute for Technology (EIT) and the European Innovation Council will all play key roles in rolling out the objectives of Horizon Europe between now and 2027. Commissioner Designate Gabriel is committed to securing a budget of 120 billion euro for Horizon Europe. This will be in line with the political priorities and objectives of the European Parliament.

Mariya Gabriel

Mariya Gabriel

Commissioner Gabriel was very clear that for the EU to stay as a global leader in the field of ICT, then the EU must set the standards for Key Enabling Technologies (KETs). Already the EU is to the forefront in technical expertise when it comes to advances in the fields of Artificial Intelligence and cyber-security issues. Pillar 2 of Horizon Europe will be promoting extensive collaborative research in the areas of quantum technology, High Performance Computing (HPC) and photonics. The USA is already a very strong player in the field of basic scientific research with China catching up quite fast.

There will also be closer co-operation between DG Connect and DG RTD within the European Commission. These means that policies to promote stronger digital economy and research activities will be interlinked. EU research will be modernising telecommunication networks in Europe via innovations under 5G, Big Data, cloud computing and the Internet of Things (IoT). International collobaration and co-operation between the public, private, research and educational sectors across the length and breadth of the world is so important if key EU policy objectives are to be achieved.

More support will be given to small and medium sized enterprises (smes) so that they can take part under Horizon Europe backed initiatives. It is also important that governments in Europe increase spending in the fields of research, innovation and science. EU governments are spending between .5% and 4% GDP per annum on research intensity. The governments that spend more money on these important policy areas can stay more competitive and secure stronger economic returns in the medium term.

The evaluation process under Horizon Europe will stay the same as is the case under Horizon 2020. Consortia applications will be judged on the excellence on the application in question. This will ensure that the EU will remain a key global leader in the fields of research, innovation and science.

International partnerships, international collaboration, the pursuit of excellence and enhancing private sector participation within EU research backed initiatives are all central elements of Horizon Europe. This is a really exciting policy programme that will help Europe stay economically competitive.

 

Julio Kongyu is vice president for Europe Public Affairs for Huawei Technologies.

Bulgaria

Another investigation by former MEP Nikolay Barekov’s Anti-Corruption Front (ACF) has revealed an alleged corrupt scheme by Bulgarian oligarchy.

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After an anti-corruption inquiry, the ACF team led by Barekov gathered a host of evidence against the daughter of Ivan Kostov, who allegedly privatized property worth over BGN 30 billion and enriched dozens of Bulgarian oligarchs.

Mina Kostova, nicknamed "the princess" , is alleged to have received assistance from politicians and ministers close to her father from 5 previous Bulgarian governments (3 of which were GERB), together with bankers and businessmen, to sell an entire building of the state energy company at an extremely inflated price.

The most scandalous allegation is that, according to information from the ACF, the building was sold without a public procurement process at an inflated price, given that the state energy company is in an actual state of bankruptcy. The building itself cost the state more than 5m euros.

“This million-euro deal hurts all honest Bulgarian taxpayers” Barekov told EU Reporter. “The main characters are painfully familiar. The same ones who fed the oligarchic-mafia dragon of corruption in our country” he said. “Oligarchs who got rich around Kostov's privatization and took power behind the scenes in the last 20 years during the governments of the Triple Coalition and GERB.”

In recent years, Nikolay Barekov has established himself as a journalist and politician who fully investigates high-level corruption in Bulgaria. The former MEP and father of many children is again very popular in the country, with his investigations and civil actions against properties and offices of the Bulgarian oligarchs.

Barekov believes that the rule of the last 6 governments of parties such as UDF, NMSS, BSP and GERB are in fact a facade of the oligarchy and their abuses in the country.

Barekov specifically provided this investigation to EU Reporter because he says, “there is no trust in Bulgarian television”.

In the last few years Nikolay Barekov has been come under pressure several times by the oligarchy, with a number of court attempts being brought by them to stop his investigations.

A source confided to EU Reporter that the Prosecutor's Office and the Ministry of Interior are investigating threats of murder against Barekov, designed to intimidate him and to force Barekov and his family to emigrate from Bulgaria forever

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Bulgaria

Commission approves €29 million Bulgarian scheme to support farmers breeding large and small ruminants and potato growers affected by #Coronavirus outbreak

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Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov

The European Commission has approved a BGN 56.6 million (approximately €29m) Bulgarian scheme to support farmers breeding large and small ruminants and potato growers affected by coronavirus outbreak. The scheme was approved under the state aid Temporary Framework. The public support will take the form of direct grants covering part of the principal amount and interest due on loans previously provided to the beneficiaries by the State Fund for Agriculture.

The purpose of the scheme is to address the liquidity needs of the beneficiaries and help them to continue their activities during and after the coronavirus outbreak. The Commission found that the Bulgarian scheme is in line with the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. In particular, (i) the aid will not exceed €100,000 per beneficiary as provided by the Temporary Framework for undertakings active in the primary agricultural sector; and (ii) the scheme will run until 31 December 2020. The Commission concluded that the measure is necessary, appropriate and proportionate to remedy a serious disturbance in the economy of a member state, in line with Article 107(3)(b) TFEU and the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework.

On this basis, the Commission approved the measures under EU state aid rules. More information on the Temporary Framework and other actions taken by the Commission to address the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic can be found here. The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the case number SA.58328 in the state aid register on the Commission's competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.

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Aviation Strategy for Europe

Commission approves €4.4 million Bulgarian support measure to Burgas and Varna airports in the context of the #Coronavirus outbreak

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The European Commission has approved a €4.4 million Bulgarian support measure to Burgas and Varna airports in the context of the coronavirus outbreak. The measure was approved under the state aid Temporary Framework. The public support will take the form of a deferral of the payments of the concession fees due by Fraport Twin Star Airport Management AD, the company managing the two airports, to the Bulgarian government which owns the airports' infrastructures.

The purpose of the measure is to help the two airports addressing the liquidity shortages that they are facing due to the coronavirus outbreak, by reducing the costs borne by the airport operator. The Commission found the measure to be in line with the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework.

In particular, the payment deferral may only be granted until the end of this year and its duration will be for one year. Furthermore, the payment deferral involves minimum remuneration in line with the Temporary Framework.

The Commission therefore concluded that the measure is necessary, appropriate and proportionate to remedy a serious disturbance in the economy of a member state, in line with Article 107(3)(b) TFEU and the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. On this basis, the Commission approved the measure under EU state aid rules. More information on the Temporary Framework and other actions taken by the Commission to address the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic can be found here.

The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the case number SA.58095 in the state aid register on the Commission's competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.

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