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INTERVIEW Jorge Domecq, Chief Executive of the European Defence Agency, ahead of a major conference in Bucharest: Our objective is to make the European Union a security provider in a more complex security environment

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Romania has a big responsibility this year in taking forward all the different EU defence initiatives, says Jorge Domecq, the chief executive of EU body for defence – the European Defence Agency – before a paramount conference in Bucharest dedicated to research and innovation in the defence sector.

In an exclusive interview for CaleaEuropeană.ro ahead of the Conference that will take place at the Palace of Parliament on Tuesday, Mr. Domecq pointed out that the event aims to take ”stock of where we stand in defence research in Europe” and highlighted to role Romania plays in this framework.

Moreover, the chief of EDA pointed out that in a world where threats are complex and the model of war is changing, Europe needs to do more together on disruptive technologies and, especially, in artificial intelligence.

Teodora Ion: Together with the Romanian EU Council Presidency, EDA is organizing a conference in Bucharest focused on “Capability-Driven Defence Research and Innovation”. What is your main aim and objective with this event?

Jorge Domecq:  The main aim of the conference is to take stock of where we stand in defence research in Europe. In particular, we are looking at three main aspects. One, to look into the state of cooperative defence research in Europe and specifically the efforts the Agency is doing to prioritise research in Europe with through the Overarching Strategic Research Agenda (OSRA). The second aim is to highlight the role of EDA as the main forum for cooperative defence research at the European level, with an important portfolio of research programmes. And the third, is to look into funding instruments that the European Commission is bringing to the table to promote the competitiveness of the European defence technological industrial base in the research domain.

Teodora Ion: Since 2016 the EU has started to float several flagship initiatives under the EU defence dream: PESCO, CARD, the European Defence Fund (EDF) or the European Defence Industrial Development Program (EDIDP). How are these initiatives linked together and how can we understand better how they work to bring forward the progress and achievements the EU defence has reached so far?

Jorge Domecq: The starting point for improved European defence came with the endorsement of the EU Global Strategy by heads of state and governments in 2016. The different initiatives you mentioned all lead to the same objective: to make the European Union a security provider in a more complex security environment. The different elements  are important. The Capability Development Plan and OSRA, which I mentioned before, set common priorities, they tell us ‘what needs to be done’. The Coordinated Annual Review on Defence looks at the European capability landscape as it stands today and indicates next steps; finally, PESCO, or the Permanent Structured Cooperation, which allows Member States to together plan and implement those cooperative opportunities that were identified by CARD. Finally, the European Defence Fund as a very important financial incentive for European cooperation, including by promoting cooperation across borders of defence industries. That is the objective of these initiatives which now have to be embedded in national defence planning processes.

Teodora Ion: Coming back to the main theme of the Conference in Bucharest – on research and innovation in defence. One of the main purposes of the event will be to address the positive impact of a fusion on research priorities between the national and the European level. How will you tackle this issue?

Jorge Domecq: The first objective now that defence budgets in Europe are growing should be investment. We need to devote an important amount to research and technologies, because we need to provide our armed forces with the capabilities they will need in the future. We have to reverse the decreasing trend in research and technology investment. The second important point of the conference is prioritisation. We need first to set our priorities in the defence research domain and then in a second step, decide which of them can be tackled on the European level and which can be tackled among groups of Member States or at the national level. The Overarching Strategic Research Agenda (OSRA) will help us to identify the technologies that will need to be addressed – if possible on the European level, with a European added- value.

Teodora Ion: On the same page, the first research project financed by the European Defence Fund was Pythia, a project that put together seven stakeholders from six EU members, including Romania. The project is underway and aims to deliver a methodology for improving civil and defence technology foresight. What are the main achievements such a cooperation has brought to the EU efforts on research in defence?

Jorge Domecq: The Preparatory Action (PADR) has already demonstrated that it is a catalyst for cooperation among industries and research centers across Europe. It is of clear benefit to European defence. The National Defence University of Romania  has brought its renowned defence expertise to Pythia, which is a big advantage for the project. However, it is still too early to speak about the impact of the project. The final deliverables will be on the table this summer but as far as I’m informed, the project is advancing well and will give us a tool in which we will be able to scout for new technologies that might have an impact for defence research in the future.

Teodora Ion: When referring to the EU Defence many speak about an EU Army, people fighting under the EU flag and so on. But from an innovative stance, we live in a world where artificial intelligence grows indispensably and where non-EU companies drive forward the breakthroughs. Therefore, what does the EU aim with research in Future Disruptive Defence Technologies and what should we do to be a global player?

Jorge Domecq: There is a triple need to address technologies which are called disruptive, but more specifically Artificial Intelligence. In the first case, we need to dramatically increase the level of investment. Just to give you an example: in 2017, the entire research and technologies effort at the European level was of 8.8 billion euros. In Artificial Intelligence only, the United States is investing during the same year, 7.4 billion dollars. So, it is a question of size first and of speed second. We need to really start looking at Artificial Intelligence as well as other domains. What applications will these technologies have in defence? How will they affect defence, what opportunities and what vulnerabilities will they bring to other defence systems. This will affect how we will organise our own forces, and how we organise our work at the European Defence Agency. And the third aspect, which I think is very important: cooperation in defence is indispensable. We cannot think in national categories only, especially if we look at new threats.

Teodora Ion: Romania is one of the founding members of PESCO, participant country to several PESCO projects and also the holding EU Council Presidency. Although we know the EU defence is a CFSP/CSPD matter under the coordination of High Representative Federica Mogherini, how do you appreciate Romania’s impetus on the further development of EU defence?

Jorge Domecq: Romania has a big responsibility this year in taking forward all the different EU defence initiatives. For example, in CARD we have just had a workshop in Bucharest this week to discuss the future methodology we are going to apply for the Coordinated Annual Review on Defence which will start its first full cycle this fall. For PESCO, during this first semester we will have the first report ever of the High Representative on the 20 PESCO commitments on the basis of national implementation plans of the different Member States. The Agency also recently just launched the third call of the Preparatory Action on Defence Research; the finalisation of the European Defence Fund regulations and the launching of the first EDIDP calls are imminent. All that is happening as we talk and the Romanian leadership is going to be paramount. Romania is a very active member of the Agency in several domains. It is involved in EDA research projects and programmes together with other Member States of a value of more than 60 millions euros, and  it has been a pleasure to be able to count on the Presidency to take forward this challenging agenda.

The conference Capability-Driven Defence Research and Innovation Conference will take place on 26 March 2019 at the Palace of the Parliament venue in Bucharest, under the auspices of the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

The conference is organised by the Armaments Department of the Romanian Ministry of National Defence, in cooperation with the European Defence Agency (EDA), and will welcome representatives from Ministries of Defence, defence research centres, industry and other European institutions.

The European Defence Agency (EDA) is an intergovernmental agency of the Council of the European Union. The Agency falls under the authority of the Council of the EU, to which it reports and from which it receives guidelines. The High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of the European Union is the Head of the EDA, while the body is also run by a Chief Executive appointed by the member states.

 

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Message of the Digital Assembly Forum and SET Plan 2019 climate and digitalization conferences in Bucharest: Cities and regions are at the heart of Europe’s carbon-neutral and digital transformation

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© CaleaEuropeană.ro/ Diana Zaim

Cities and regions are at the heart of Europe’s carbon-neutral and digital transformation, is the message essentially conveyed by the two high level international climate and digitalization conferences organized this week in Bucharest, under the auspices of the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, according to a press release of the European Committee of the Regions.

Under the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, this week Bucharest hosted two high-level events with a strong presence of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR): the Digital Assembly 2019 and the 12th SET Plan Conference. EU cities and regions have put inclusiveness at the centre of Europe’s digitalisation strategy, warning that effective multi-level dialogues are the only way to deliver the EU’s energy and climate targets as well the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

The Digital Assembly 2019 – the EU’s top forum that takes stock of the achievements of the Digital Single Market (DSM) Strategy, has given support to the CoR claim that the future DSM must have inclusiveness in its centre. In Bucharest, the CoR presented the “Digital Europe for all” paper – a series of proposals by the CoR’s President, Karl-Heinz Lambertz and First Vice-President, Markku Markkula- that contributes to the renewal of the European Commission’s mandate in the field of the Digital Single Market for the next five years.

As a keynote speaker at the Digital Assembly’s closing session, First Vice-President Markku Markkula (FI/EPP), said:

”The digital revolution starts local. We need to ensure that Europe’s digitalisation is fully inclusive and doesn’t leave any community behind. It is of key importance that digital and sustainable solutions are affordable and available for all. We must also connect the internet of things to the fields of transport, energy efficiency and the circular economy in order to interlink Europe’s digitalisation to the completion of the EU’s energy and climate targets and the Sustainable Development Goals.”

Amongst the CoR’s “Digital Europe for all” proposals is the development of a local Digital Economy and Society Index to better encapsulate the variety of ‘digital situations’ of Europe’s cities and regions. The CoR’s proposals for the digitalisation of the single market will now be put forward to the incoming Finish Presidency of the EU Council and be part of the discussions on the Digital Europe Programme, firstly proposed in June 2018.

In Bucharest, the Chairman of the Tipperary County Council and CoR member Michel Murphy (IE/EPP) received one of the first Wifi4EU vouchers of EUR 15,000 to install free Wi-Fi in his community. Wifi4EU is a fresh EU scheme to provide Wi-Fi free access to local communities.

From 12 to 14 June, Bucharest also hosted the 24th meeting of the CoR’s Commission for Environment, Climate change and Energy (ENVE). In collaboration with the European Commission, the Association of Romanian Municipalities and the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the EU, the CoR contributed to the organisation of the SET Plan conference. Vice-President Markkula emphasised that Europe will not be able to reach 2050 carbon-neutrality, nor deliver the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals , without a close and structured partnership between the European Union, academia, businesses and the national, regional and local governmental levels.

“Better involving sub-national levels in developing National Energy and Climate Plans is crucial, and the timing of the incoming Finnish EU Presidency is critical in this regard. The work of our Romanian colleagues on the implementation of the Clean Energy Package needs to be continued, notably as regards the integration of the Energy Union into Member State’s national policies and more specifically into the National Energy and Climate Plans. We need to make sure that a sufficient level of energy and climate ambition is engrained into each and every one of these plans. Only through structured multi-level dialogues involving local and regional authorities but also businesses and civil society will Member States effectively reach a clean energy transition”, declared First Vice-President Markku Markkula at the SET Plan conference closing session.

“During the Finnish EU Presidency our cities and regions want to showcase how the local Energy and Climate plans are drafted and implemented. The CoR can and will use different instruments in encouraging the forerunners from all parts of EU to take the lead in implementing UN SDGs”, he concluded.

Under the title ‘Making the energy transition happen’, the SET Plan conference has looked at the strategies needed at local and regional level to accelerate the sustainable energy transition and analysed currently available investment options to harness the potential of businesses to create low-carbon innovative economies at the local and regional level. Delegates have assessed local challenges and solutions towards the integration of different energy systems and the concrete ways through which the SET Plan contributes decarbonising local economies.

The Digital Assembly 2019 is a forum for stakeholders to take stock of the achievements of the Digital Single Market Strategy, draw lessons and to exchange views on the contours of a future digital policy. The event is also a great opportunity to showcase how digital is transforming our societies and economies, and how it can help bring positive change to our lives. It is co-organised by the European Commission and the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

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LIVE SET Plan & ENVE Conference 2019 in Bucharest: ”Making the energy transition happen locally”

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The 12th SET Plan Conference will be held on June 12th – 14th, 2019 in Bucharest, under the auspices of the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the EU and will be merged with the external ENVE (Environment, Climate change and Energy) Commission and Conference from the European Committee of the Regions, where more than 120 EU local and regional leaders are working on environment, climate change, energy and space policies. The event is organized by the European Committee of the Regions, the European Commission, the Romanian Municipalities Association and the Ministry of Energy.

Under the theme ”Making the energy transition happen locally”, the SET Plan & ENVE Conference will focus strongly on the interaction of various stakeholders with local and regional authorities on the road to a clean energy transition. The role of Hydrogen in the clean energy transition will be discussed throughout various sessions.

The SET Plan Conference will be broadcasted LIVE on CaleaEuropeană.ro and on Calea Europeană Facebook Page on June 12th-13th.

Sessions 5 and 6 & Closing session

Closing session

Chair:

  • Haitze Siemers, Head of Unit for new energy technology, innovation and clean coal, DG ENERGY, European Commission;

Speakers:

  • Markku Markkula, First Vice-President of the European Committee of the Regions;
  • Timo Ritonummi, Deputy Director General, Energy Department, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, Finland;
  • Victor Negrescu, Pro-rector National University of Political Studies and Public Administration (SNSPA);

Session 6: Investing in local and sustainable mobility systems

Chair:

  • Haitze Siemers, Head of Unit for new energy technology, innovation and clean coal, DG ENERGY, European Commission;

  Introductive pitch by the first national electric charger network in   Romania, by Raul Bura, Project manager, Renovation Group;

Panel debate:

  • Ilmar Reepalu, Member of the European Committee of the Regions, CEMR Spokesperson on Urban policies and Councillor of Malmö, Sweden;
  • Hechem Nadjar, Commercial Manager, Shell Hydrogen;
  • Julian Popov, Fellow at the European Climate Foundation;
  • Geert van Hecke, Head of Sales Public Transport, VanHool NV;
  • Anna Lisa Boni, Secretary General, EUROCITIES;

Session 5: Renewable energy at the scale of citizens and consumers: from generation to integration

Chair:

  • Hans Van Steen, Acting Director of Renewables, Research and Innovation, Energy Efficiency, DG ENERGY, European Commission;

  Introductive pitch by Cheap-GSHPs project – Alexandru Tanase from   Pietre Edil;

Panel debate:

  • Apostolos Tzitzikostas, Member of the European Committee of the Regions, Governor of the Region of Central Macedonia, Greece;
  • Mercè Almuni, Senior Energy Expert, the European Consumer Organisation (BEUC);
  • Mirela Atanasiu, Head of Unit Operations and Communications FCH JU;
  • Dominik Rutz, Chair of Biomass Technology Panel of European Technology and Innovation Platform on Renewable Heating and Cooling;
  • Victor Iancu, Founder of Cooperativa de Energie;

Day 2. Opening speeches & Session 3: Challenges and solutions at local level for resilient, safe and secure Integrated Energy Systems

Session 4: Accelerating innovation for existing and future energy efficient buildings

Opening speeches: unlocking the potential of Horizon Europe to support the clean energy transition

Chair:

  • Patrick Child, Deputy Director General, DG Research and Innovation, European Commission;

Speakers:

  • Anton Anton, Romanian Minister of Energy;
  • Nicolae Hurduc, Romanian Minister of Research and Innovation;
  • Florin Radu Ciocănelea, State Councilor of the Romanian Prime-minister;
  • Sorin Chiriță, Bucharest City-manager;

Session 3: Challenges and solutions at local level for resilient, safe and secure Integrated Energy Systems

Chair:

  • Tudor Constantinescu, Principal Advisor to DG Energy, European Commission;

  Presentation of Implementation Plan 4 “Energy Systems”, by Michael   Huebner, co-chair, Federal Ministry for Transport, Innovation and   Technology, Austria;

Panel debate:

  • Sirpa Hertell, Member of the European Committee of the Regions, City councillor of Espoo, Finland;
  • Bart Biebuyck, FCH JU Executive Director;
  • Richard Vidlicka, Chair of E.DSO Projects Committee and Manager of EU Projects and Innovations of CEZ Distribuce;
  • Ralf Goldmann, Head of Division of ELENA, EIB;
  • George Solomon, Director of Communications, E-ON Romania;

Session 4: Accelerating innovation for existing and future energy efficient buildings

Chair:

  • Stathis Peteves, Head of Knowledge for Energy Union at Joint Research Centre, European Commission;

  Presentation of Implementation Plan 5 “Energy Efficiency in   Buildings”,   by Jennifer Reichert, Project Management Jülich, Chair   IWG 5;

Panel debate:

  • Mihai Moia, Executive Director of ROENEF;
  • Roby Biwer, 1st Vice-Chair of ENVE Commission and President of the Luxembourg delegation, European Committee of the Regions, Bettembourg Municipal Council, Luxembourg;
  • Josef Baumeister, Managing Director of the EEBus Bosch Siemens;
  • Bertrand Deprez, VP EU Government Affairs Strategy, Schneider Electric;
  • Horia Petran, Senior Researcher, Romanian National Research Institute – Development in Construction, Urban Planning and Sustainable Territorial Development (URBAN – INCERC);

Session 2: Towards a EU Mission to invest in smart cities: leveraging on the Covenant of Mayors, Smart Cities and Communities to upscale smart city solutions

Chair:

  • Mark Van Stiphout, Deputy Head of Unit for new energy technology, innovation and clean coal, DG ENERGY, European Commission;

  Video by Stockholm city – Lighthouse Project

Panel debate:

  • Emil Boc, Mayor of Cluj-Napoca, Romania; Former prime-minister of Romania;
  • Lucienne Krosse, Thematic Leader on Smart Cities, InnoEnergy;
  • Joost Declerck, Promotor Energy Efficiency, Belfius Bank;
  • Ralf Goldmann, Head of Division of ELENA, EIB;

VIDEO – Opening session and Session 1

OPENING SESSION

Engaging citizens, cities and regions to implement the SET plan and deliver the EU’s 2050 decarbonisation goals

Chair:

  • Dominique Ristori, Director-General for Energy, European Commission;

Speakers:

  • Karl-Heinz Lambertz, President of the European Committee of the Regions;
  • Niculae Havrileț, Personal Adviser, Romanian Minister of Energy;
  • Robert Negoiță, President of the Romanian Municipalities Association; Member of European Committee of the Regions; Mayor of Sector 3, Bucharest, Romania;
  • Mihnea Cosmin Costoiu, Rector of the Politehnica University of Bucharest;

Session 1: Successful ecosystems in cities, regions and islands to deliver a climate-neutral Europe

Chair:

  • Andreea Strachinescu, Head of unit for maritime innovation, knowledge and investments, DG MARE, European Commission;

  Presentation of Implementation Plan 3.2 “Towards Positive Energy   Districts for sustainable urbanisation”, by Hans Guenther Schwarz,   Chair, Federal Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology,   Austria;

Panel debate:

  • Cor Lamers, ENVE Commission Chair, European Committee of the Regions, Mayor of Schiedam, Netherlands;
  • Rumen Radev, Economical Director of Holding Zadora OOD and Vice chair of the Bulgarian Industrial Capital Association;
  • František Kubeš, Director of the Regional Policy Department of the Czech Ministry of Regional Development;

Arrival press point

Arrivals

LIVE Tweets

 

PHOTO Gallery

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The SET Plan & ENVE conference will be a key moment for Europe to reflect on the EU 2050 Long-Term Strategy (LTS) in practice: a powerful opportunity to take stock of innovation in the field of clean energy transition and to discuss further steps on making the pathway to climate neutrality more concrete.

The 2050 Long-term strategy (LTS) communication is creating the foundation for Europe to have a robust roadmap towards climate neutrality by 2050. The outcomes of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels have clearly shown how relevant is for Europe and for the entire world that this strategy is successfully implemented.

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Remove online terrorist content. MEP Ramona Mănescu (EPP): If we want to bring those who promote illegal content to justice, we need clear deadlines and coercive measures

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If we really want those who create, distribute and promote illegal content, inciting to commit terrorist acts in this case, be brought to justice, coercive measures, clear deadlines and the obligation to act are necessary, declared for CaleaEuropeană.ro MEP Ramona Mănescu (EPP).

The Romanian MEP also said that we can no longer rely on voluntary measures ”when we have content with an obvious terrorist character, but also in the case of misinformation campaigns or other forms of illegal or subversive character.”

”There will always be opposition, and many of the arguments of those who oppose any form of censorship are valid in a perfect world. Unfortunately, we do not live in such a world and we are obliged to take measures to defend the life, security, values and democracy we enjoy today. The signal given by the European Parliament is clear and it must be as quickly as possible in the legislation and practice of the Member States” said MEP Ramona Mănescu.

European Parliament backed on Wednesday a proposal to tackle the misuse of internet hosting services for terrorist purposes. Companies that systematically and persistently fail to abide by the law may be sanctioned with up to 4% of their global turnover.

Internet companies should remove terrorist content within one hour after receiving an order from the authorities, to combat radicalisation and contribute to public security.

Once an internet company hosting content uploaded by users (like Facebook or YouTube) that offers their services in the EU has received a removal order from the competent national authority, they will have one hour to remove it or disable access to it in all EU member states. However, they will not be generally obliged to monitor the information they transmit or store, nor have to actively seek facts indicating illegal activity.

To help smaller platforms, MEPs decided that, when a company has never received a removal order before, the competent authority should contact it, to provide information on procedures and deadlines, at least 12 hours before issuing the first order to remove content that they are hosting.

If a company has been subject to a substantial number of removal orders, the authorities may request that it implements additional specific measures (e.g. regularly reporting to the authorities, or increasing human resources). MEPs in the Civil Liberties Committee agreed not to impose an obligation to monitor uploaded content nor the use of automated tools.

The legislation targets any material -text, images, sound recordings or videos- that “incites or solicits the commission or contribution to the commission of terrorist offences, provides instructions for the commission of such offences or solicits the participation in activities of a terrorist group”, as well as content providing guidance on how to make and use explosives, firearms and other weapons for terrorist purposes.

Content disseminated for educational, journalistic or research purposes should be protected, according to MEPs. They also make clear that the expression of polemic or controversial views on sensitive political questions should not be considered terrorist content.

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