The EU budget for 2022, the largest in the history of the Union, has been boosted with significant additional funding for research and health, said MEP Vasile Blaga (PNL, EPP) for CaleaEuropeana.ro.
Last week’s session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg approved the European Union’s budget for next year and we are dealing with a first: €169.5 billion for 2022, the largest amount ever approved, €480 million more than the European Commission’s proposal,
“It is worth highlighting here the €100 million annual budget increase for the Horizon Europe research and innovation programme, a key programme for boosting the EU’s competitiveness and economic development. I also note an increase in next year’s budget in the health sector, with the EU’s pandemic response programme EU4Health being funded by €51 million more than the Commission’s initial proposal, for a total of over €800 million,” the EPP MEP stressed.
“It is extremely important not to forget that the pandemic is not over and investing in health is a priority for the European Union in the coming year. A joint effort by all member countries is needed to strengthen national health systems. The same is true in Romania – the national health system has the opportunity to benefit from important funds for modernisation and response, not only to the current pandemic, but also in the long term, to the current challenges in the system”, added the EPP MEP.
The European Parliament last week approved the 2022 budget by 550 votes to 77 with 62 abstentions. The deal, which was agreed by the EU Council on 23 November, is due to take effect from 1 January 2022.
MEPs succeeded in increasing funding for programmes and policies that they believe contribute to post-pandemic recovery, in line with Parliament’s priorities set out in its guidelines for 2022.
These include the Horizon Europe research programme (+€100 million more than the Commission’s draft budget) and the LIFE programme for environment and climate action (+€47.5 million). The single market programme is boosted by €30 million (including €10 million for the tourism sector) and the European Public Prosecutor’s Office by €3.8 million, protecting European taxpayers’ money from criminals.
The Erasmus+ university mobility programme is another programme whose budget is reinforced, with an additional allocation of €35 million. The EU’s flagship health programme, EU4Health, gets a financial boost of €51 million to build a strong European Health Union and make national health systems more resilient.
The Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI – Global Europe) has been boosted by €190 million, with a particular focus on fighting pandemics, including through vaccination.
Humanitarian aid has been increased by €211 million to allow the Solidarity and Emergency Aid Reserve to cover the increased needs of the EU Solidarity Fund in relation to natural disasters in the EU.
European Tech Alliance presents its manifesto for Europe’s digital policy: We need an ambitious EU tech strategy to boost European competitiveness, based on smart rules and fairer competition
The European Technology Alliance (EUTA) presents today, 27 November, its bold, forward-looking manifesto, outlining a strategic roadmap for Europe’s digital policy from now to 2030. According to the manifesto, in times of geopolitical and economic instability, promoting home-grown tech businesses has never been more central to achieving the European Union’s wider goals. The recording of the launch event can be watched here.
EUTA represents leading European tech companies that provide innovative products and services to 500 million users. The 30 EUTA member companies in 14 European countries are popular and have earned the trust of consumers.
With the right conditions, EUTA members can strengthen Europe’s resilience and technological autonomy,protect and empower users online, and promote Europe’s values of transparency, rule of law and innovation to the rest of the world.
Through the manifesto “Unlock European tech leadership at home and beyond”, EUTA asks EU institutions to take into account three steps as we move towards 2030:
- Develop a European strategy for European tech and competitiveness;
- Prioritise smart rules for a stronger Europe, including increased harmonisation to create
one EU digital single market, not 27 national markets;
- Focus on better enforcement for fairer competition.
“We need an ambitious EU tech strategy to overcome growth obstacles, a political commitment to clear, targeted and risk-based rules, and consistent enforcement. The next Commission’s mandate, towards 2030, is the right moment to unlock Europe’s tech, fostering its leadership at home and beyond”, said EUTA Secretary General Victoria de Posson.
“We must navigate tech innovation and tech regulation wisely. This means consulting tech experts, assessing current rules, tailoring them for specific problems and business models and enforcing them with fairness”, said the Chair of the EUTA Board and Head of EU Public Affairs for Zalando, Aurélie Caulier.
EUTA President and Schibsted CEO Kristin Skogen Lund also said that “as companies born and bred in Europe, the EU is a crucial market and we are deeply committed to European citizens and values”.
In the manifesto, EUTA proposes three steps to enhance growth and innovation in Europe:
1. European tech for European competitivenes
A European strategy for tech: According to EUTA, it’s time for the EU to boost European tech with a strategy that empowers European digital companies to grow and use new innovation tools to deliver the best services and products, including personalised experiences to their users. European tech companies are valuable assets for Europe. They deserve support and nurturing.
Adopt an EU lens: Today, there is regulatory fragmentation. We still deal with 27 national markets in practice, including for market assessment in competition law. A European approach and more harmonisation would facilitate the growth of European champions at global, national and regional level.
Bring in European voices: EU tech should by default have a seat at the table when proposed rules, often designed for a few global players, disproportionately affect their ability to provide the best services, products, and experience to users.
2. Smart rules for a stronger Europe
EUTA asks the European Union to allow time for the implementation of the rules and then to evaluate them properly: The digital world is a fully regulated sector with a wide range of new and updated rules. The EU should allow for existing rules to take effect and make a thorough assessment of these rules, before introducing new regulations in the same areas, says the EUTA manifesto.
The European Technology Alliance also stresses that laws should fit together like puzzle pieces, not be “a messy patchwork”: European, national, and regional measures should complement each other, not clash or duplicate efforts. EU countries should not add extra rules on top of EU regulations. When developing new EU rules or reviewing existing ones, we should get rid of old laws to prevent an ever-growing pyramid of regulations.
In addition, EUTA calls for the EU to adopt a tailor-made, problem-based approach: According to the manifesto, Where EU rules are needed, policymakers should focus on concrete problems and be mindful of different tech business models. Rules should address problems with specific business models instead of a one-size-fits all approach or dictating specific product designs. Any proposed solution should also be proportionate to the problem identified.
3. Better enforcement for fairer competition
Ensure fair competition: European companies need a level playing field to grow and compete. For this, we need strong and consistentenforcement of recently adopted EU laws and a tough stance on any company, large or small, trying to circumvent EU rules, the manifesto says.
Same rules, same interpretation, and coherent enforcement: Fragmented interpretation causes legal uncertainty, competition distortions and 27 rules instead of one. According to EUTA, European businesses need a clear and predictable legal framework to grow, innovate and compete with global players coming from larger or more homogenous home markets.
EUTA also calls on the European Union to work together and not in “silos”, to encourage cooperation between national authorities (e.g. consumer, competition, data protection), as well as among Member States and with the EU to ensure consistent enforcement of rules. “Working in silos must be avoided, and best practices shared,” says EUTA.
In addition, EUTA advocates that the EU should provide authorities with the right resources: European and national authorities must invest the proper resources such as people, time, and technical expertise, for effective and pragmatic enforcement. Authorities should also consider working with external stakeholders such as businesses, to be aware of the latest innovative products (e.g. regulatory sandboxes).
At the end of the manifesto, EUTA wants to ensure an independent enforcement: “Now that the Commission takes on the role of rule enforcer, it’s of paramount importance to place a strong focus on independence. Enforcement must be kept separate from political interests”, stresses the European Technology Alliance.
EPP MEP Pernille Weiss highlights Romania’s potential to attract investment in pharmaceuticals by creating a favourable environment for innovators and SMEs
In an intervention at the recent ARPIM event, “The health of Romanians between hopes, challenges, investments, and innovation: a European vision,” Danish Member of the European Parliament (MEP, EPP) Pernille Weiss, who serves as the rapporteur for the Pharmaceutical Directive, addressed the crucial role of the ”Pharma” package in shaping the future of pharmaceutical innovation in the European Union (EU).
Weiss emphasized the significance of the Pharmaceutical Directive within the broader ”Pharma” package, underscoring the need for a common shared language and toolbox to navigate the legislative landscape effectively. She articulated the anticipation within the European Parliament and numerous member states for the European Commission’s proposal, expressing hope that it would propel the EU toward becoming a ”global hub for pharmaceutical innovation”.
As the rapporteur for the Pharma Directive, Weiss outlined her vision for the legislation, placing a strong emphasis on promoting innovation while ensuring patient access to medicines. Drawing on her background as a nurse and a lineage of healthcare professionals, Weiss envisioned the European Union as a community of lawmakers, healthcare systems, universities, and education institutions working together to make the EU ”the most attractive place on earth for not only pharma industries, an important part of our industries but also the adjacent industries that as a total system can be labeled as the life science industries”.
Weiss highlighted the two central components of the ”Pharma package”—the directive and the regulation. She emphasized the lengthy wait for the Commission’s proposal and the collective aspiration for it to enhance the EU’s ability to foster pharmaceutical innovation, provide access to medicines, and strike a balance between affordability and rewarding innovation.
The MEP expressed her hope of making the EU the first choice for the pharmaceutical sector in terms of production, research and development facilities, and collaboration opportunities. Weiss acknowledged the pivotal role of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as ”the backbone of innovation” in Europe’s pharmaceutical landscape and stressed the importance of legislation tailored to accommodate their unique needs.
Weiss proposed a nuanced approach to data protection, advocating for predictability, fairness, and alignment with global standards. She challenged the Commission’s concept of tying data protection to product launches in individual member states, emphasizing the need for a more comprehensive and fair negotiation position.
In particular, Weiss highlighted the potential for countries like Romania to attract pharmaceutical investments by creating a conducive environment for SMEs. She called for a streamlined process for innovators and entrepreneurs, ensuring that directives and regulations support their efforts and contribute to a faster, more efficient pathway for market authorization and pricing agreements. In this sense, the Danis MEP proposed an application model for pricing and reimbursement in member states expressing interest in specific medicines. This, she argued, would facilitate faster access for citizens and incentivize innovative companies, especially SMEs, to invest in countries like Romania.
As the European Parliament moves towards interinstitutional negotiations with the Council, Weiss expressed her hope for an agreement before the European elections in June next year. She concluded by emphasizing the need for a legislative package that not only meets high expectations but also reflects the true interconnections between the diverse elements of pharmaceutical innovation. Her proposed legislative adjustments aim to ensure that Europe remains a global leader in pharmaceutical innovation, delivering timely and affordable solutions to citizens across member states, regardless of their size or economic status.
Pernille Weiss MEP (since 2019) is a politician from the Conservative People’s Party of Denmark. Hereby she is a Member of the Group of the European People’s Party in the European Parliament (EPP Group).
Ms Weiss is a Member of the Committee on Industry, Research & Energy Committee and of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety. She is also a Substitute Member of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality.
Prior to being an MEP, Ms Weiss served eight years as a County Council Member. She holds several degrees: she is a nurse (RN), has a Master’s of Science (health), is a certified sexologist and holds a Master’s Degree in Innovation and Leadership (LAICS). She is an acknowledged Nordic expert in architecture and health. Ms Weiss has been a Board Member of SME Europe 2019.
She was Head Manager in the public healthcare sector and the building consultancy industry before establishing her own consultancy firm in 2008.
INTERVIEW | Achilleas Kanaris, CEO of Vodafone Romania: Our initiative is to make Romania an exporter of technology on European markets
This interview is part of the editorial project “European Digital Agenda”
One of the major initiatives and challenges for Vodafone Romania is how Romania can be transformed into a technology exporter at the level of other European markets, the company’s CEO Achilleas Kanaris said on Thursday in an interview with CaleaEuropeană.ro on the occasion of the signing ceremony of the statute establishing the International Technical Centre for Innovation in Smart City, through which the 16 founding members, including Vodafone, aim to transform Romanian cities into the cities of the future.
“One of the things that the IT&C sector in Romania is facing is there’s a high proportion of GDP that is generated from the sector, but more than 80% is actually value added that goes abroad in the form of near-shoring. So for me the challenge was how can we create technology, real innovation in Romania and innovation that can then be exported to other European markets. So how can we make Romania an exporter of technology” said Kanaris.
The International Technical Centre for Innovation in Smart City (CITI Cluster), created by 16 founding members, including the Polytechnic University of Bucharest, the City Hall of Sector 6, the National Institute for Research and Development in Computer Science – ICI Bucharest (ICI), the National Institute for Aerospace Research and Development “Elie Carafoli” – I. N.C.A.S. Bucharest, the Maritime University of Constanta and Vodafone Romania SA, organised on Thursday the official signing ceremony of the CITI Cluster statute, a significant moment in the approach to develop smart and sustainable cities in Romania.
During the interview, the CEO of Vodafone Romania said that in order to develop the smart city concept in Romania in general and in Bucharest in particular, vision, belief and resources are needed, pointing out that Vodafone has the capacity to export the technology produced in Romania to the more than 20 markets where it operates.
The full interview can be found below.
CaleaEuropeană.ro: What is the main driver that brings Vodafone together with distinguished public and private entities to help us shape the digital future of Romania and the concept of smart city here in a very, let’s say, troubled somehow Bucharest?
CEO Vodafone Romania, Achilleas Kanaris: I mean, it was an obvious choice for us. Because it’s an innovation is part of our new DNA, let’s say as a company. As you probably know we are more and more becoming a technology company, which offers connectivity as opposed to connectivity business. And we are looking for partnerships and where we see initiatives that can generate a meaningful innovation that actually can be used tomorrow, not innovation for the next 50 years, we really jump on it. We really appreciate it. We have a partnership with university for the last few years and as you probably know, we have an innovation lab already installed in the Politehnica University and when the idea came, it was hard to refuse it. For me it’s a real opportunity to generate something that will become exportable from Romania, because one of the things that the IT&C sector in Romania is facing is there’s a high proportion of GDP that is generated from the sector, but more than 80% is actually value added that goes abroad in the form of near-shoring. So for me the challenge was how can we create technology, real innovation in Romania and innovation that can then be exported to other European markets. So how can we make Romania an exporter of technology. This is one of those initiatives and this is why we like it a lot.
CaleaEuropeană.ro: And this type of project is one that can help Romania export technology and know-how abroad. What can you tell us about this initiative? You mentioned that the idea came up together with the Politehnica University. What will this initiative focus on?
CEO Vodafone Romania, Achilleas Kanaris: The focus is a smart city. Smart City is a very broad concept. There are a lot of existing Smart City solutions. It’s not about that. It is about what’s the next step what’s the next evolution of smart city and to me, combining connectivity platforms and artificial intelligence can give us a real opportunity to develop something which is quite innovative in this field. And what we know for sure is that the economic and social impact of digitalizing cities can have is immense. And the other thing I like about this project is Bucharest. And Bucharest is not a city which has has done many steps in this direction which to me is fine because now we can really accelerate and leapfrog like other cities and put Bucharest ahead of the rest on the European markets in terms of its progress.
CaleaEuropeană.ro: That’s a powerful stance coming from the fact that here in Romania we have the concept of a smart city in different other cities like Cluj-Napoca that aims on that, we have also a smart village in Ciugud, in the Alba county developed with European funds. But when it comes to Bucharest we have the real power of GDP here in the country’s capital, maybe the brightest minds. But what do you think that we lack here in Bucharest in order to gain this impetus? Can you give us let’s say two or three pillars that Bucharest can focus on to gain on this smart city concept?
CEO Vodafone Romania, Achilleas Kanaris: Sure. I mean, I will say this is part of the dialogue we need to have with the City. For me, what we need is a vision first of all, in conviction, meaning that I believe that we can do this and I will put all the resources and efforts behind it to make it happen. Through this initiative, my understanding is that those elements are there. And I’m really looking forward to working closely with the mayor and city council in order to actually define the priorities. If I was running the city, the areas that I would concentrate on for sure would be traffic. How can we manage traffic in another way, green? How can we make the city even greener than it is today? And last but not least, how can we digitalize more and more the services that we offer to our citizens? Unfortunately, what I see as a symptom of this country, despite as I said the fact that we are proud about the size of the IT&C sector and unfortunately, in the day to day lives of our citizens we live decades behind you know, there’s a lot of paper still in the relationship. There’s a lot of physical interaction between the citizens and the city hall. This is an opportunity to actually change this.
CaleaEuropeană.ro: You mentioned conviction and vision and that comes with human power and human resources. And you also said that Vodafone is ready to bring connectivity, to bring ideas, to bring technology. But what can Vodafone benefit from this type of opportunity, this type of fusion between public and private sector?
CEO Vodafone Romania, Achilleas Kanaris: It’s a win win. Because if this thing succeeds, and if we manage to create technologies and rollout technologies in the city, like Bucharest and improve the case for Bucharest for us as a global business, it’s the perfect example of something we can export. Remember, we operate in more than 23 markets. So you know we have the pleasure if you like to be able to export that technology. So when it comes to exporting Romanian technology, we will be the biggest advocate. And that’s what we’re looking forward to.
CaleaEuropeană.ro: What are the types of ideas and projects that Vodafone will support in this in this city clustering this concept? Could you give us some examples, maybe two or three examples of projects that Vodafone will support?
CEO Vodafone Romania, Achilleas Kanaris: Any type of smart activity like traffic management, waste management, lighting, all of these things that are important for us. Urban Planning, how do we change urban planning as a consequence of having a lot more information about the flow in the city, are areas that we would like to get involved. What people need to understand about us is that you know, more and more we are seen as a technology company. So for me, the reason why we are in this project is not about connectivity. It is about really creating solutions, digital solutions that will enable the city to operate in a much better manner.
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