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Publications / E.C. Paper by Georges van Goethem - 5 to 6

E.C. Paper by Georges van Goethem - 5 to 6




    Directorate G – Energy

    G.4 – Fission Energy

    September 2015




5 - Development of implementation instruments to meet above needs and vision: funding of RIE actions under Euratom Horizon-2020


The main funding instrument for Euratom RIE actions is Horizon 2020, which is based on the Flagship Initiative "Innovation Union" - Turning ideas into jobs, green growth and social progress.


Calls for proposals are published (as in the previous Framework Programmes) to support, Research and Innovation actions (RIA), Coordination and Support actions (CSA) and Innovation actions (IA), in line with the provisions foreseen in the Horizon-2020 Work Plan. Proposals must be submitted electronically using the electronic submission service of the EC. The evaluation of eligible proposals is based on a peer-review carried out by independent experts selected from the Horizon 2020 experts’ database. The selection is performed on a competitive basis whilst ensuring excellence, transparency and equal treatment of all proposals. Here is a brief description of each type of actions:


- Research and innovation actions (RIA): primarily consisting of activities aiming to establish new knowledge and/or to explore the feasibility of a new or improved technology, product, process, service or solution. For this purpose they may include basic and applied research, technology development and integration, testing and validation on a small-scale prototype.


- Innovation actions (IA): primarily consisting of activities directly aiming at producing plans and arrangements or designs for new, altered or improved products, processes or services. For this purpose they may include prototyping, testing, demonstrating, piloting, large-scale product validation and market replication.


- Coordination and support actions (CSA): primarily consisting of accompanying measures such as standardisation, dissemination, awareness-raising and communication, networking, coordination or support services, policy dialogues and mutual learning exercises and studies, including coordination between programmes (e.g. E&T) in different countries.


Three priorities are pursued in Horizon-2020: (a) generating “Excellent science”, (b) creating “Industrial leadership” and (c) tackling “Societal challenges", as follows:


(a) Priority 1 - Excellent science (containing 4 topics ERC, FET, MSCA and ESFRI)


  • European Research Council or ERC. The focus is on frontier research by the best individual teams. Created in 2007 (it was part of FP7), the ERC is based on peer-reviewed excellence as the sole criterion for success. The evaluation criterion is “ground-breaking nature, ambition and feasibility” in relation to the Principal Investigator and the research project. Three panels are considered in ERC: "Physical Sciences & Engineering"; "Life Sciences"; and “Social Sciences & Humanities”.


  • Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) programme. FET Flagships are visionary, large-scale, science-driven research initiatives which tackle scientific and technological challenges across scientific disciplines, requiring sustained support of up to 10 years. “FET” research projects deal, for example, with the development of better tools to capture information, to extract knowledge, to construct and to validate the models for complex systems (e.g. data mining, multi-level modelling, etc.).


  • Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions   (MSCA – new name for Marie Curie Actions). Research fellowships are made available as research grants to researchers of all ages and levels of experience in all research fields. The aim is to provide opportunities for training and career development, including in the private sector, while encouraging movement across borders (within and outside the EU).


  • "European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures" /ESFRI/, created in 2002, including nuclear facilities ("Jules Horowitz Reactor" /JHR/ and "Multipurpose hYbrid Research Reactor for High-technology Applications" /MYRRHA/). The objective is to ensure implementation and operation of EU and world class research infrastructures, including integration of national research infrastructures.


    (b) Priority 2 – Industrial leadership / focus on “Risk-Sharing Finance Facility” or "InnovFin"


    The aim is to improve access to debt finance for private companies and public entities investing in research and innovation in EU Member States. The "InnovFin" facility (i.e.: EU Finance for Innovators) is a joint effort of the EIB (European Investment Bank) and the European Commission enabling the EIB to provide loans, guarantees, equity investment and other support for riskier but creditworthy RDI (Research, Development, Innovation) projects.


    (c) Priority 3 - Societal Challenges and complementary programme Euratom Horizon-2020


    Funding of Horizon-2020 focusses on the following six Societal Challenges: 1. Health, demographic change and well-being; 2. Food security, sustainable agriculture, marine & maritime research, etc.; 3. Secure, clean and efficient energy (with reference made to the Euratom programme); 4. Smart, green and integrated transport; 5. Climate action, resource efficiency and raw materials; 6. Inclusive, innovative and secure societies.


    The Euratom RIE programme which is referred to in above Societal Challenge no 3, covers both fission and fusion, and is in fact a complement to Horizon-2020. It consists in five scientific priorities (they are very similar to Euratom FP7 /2007-2013/)

  • Support safe operation of nuclear systems /related to Generations II, III and IV/

    (Societal Challenges)

  • Contribute to the development of solutions for the management of ultimate waste

    /in particular, deep geological disposal/ (Excellent Science, Societal Challenges)

  • Support the development and sustainability of competences /E&T/ (Excellent Science)

  • Foster radiation protection /including medical applications of ionising radiation/ (Excellent Science, Societal Challenges)

  • Ensure availability and use of research infrastructures (Excellent Science).


    (d) European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) - KIC InnoEnergy


    The EIT is an important programme within Horizon-2020: it is ranked at the same level as the above priorities nos 1, 2 and 3. The EIT, established in 2008 by the European Parliament and Council, aims to become a flagship for excellence in European innovation. Business creation activities are coupled with Research and Innovation Projects as well as with E&T. The EIT consists of a number of “Knowledge and Innovation Communities” (KIC) in all sectors of industry and society (e.g. ICT, Climate, Energy, Raw Materials, Healthy Living and Ageing).


    Of particular interest for nuclear fission research and training is the KIC InnoEnergy, a company created in 2009, with all its implications: built upon an industrial plan, results and output oriented, with commitment from shareholders for an initial period of 7 years, financially sustainable in the medium term. KIC InnoEnergy covers all thematic priorities of the EU Energy Union. It is shared between 6 Co-location Centres: one of them is dedicated to "Sustainable nuclear and renewable energy convergence" (coordinated by the French KIC node "Colocation Centre Alps Valley", Grenoble region). 


    6 - Conclusion: towards a new way of "developing / teaching science" closer to the stakeholders


    In conclusion, one of the main objectives of Euratom RIE programmes is to bridge the gap in science and technology existing between countries in a common effort towards continuous improvement of nuclear safety and security. As a consequence scientific, human and organisational excellence is continually improved in all nuclear sectors in the EU Member States. Euratom experience of including energy, socio-economics, environmental sciences and ethics is well recognised. Wherever advisable, the implementation instruments of Euratom RIE programmes facilitate synergy between the scientific-technological and socio-political communities concerned, thereby meeting the needs of society and industry.


    Integrating expert, policy and public knowledge is receiving increasing attention, especially in the nuclear sector, as it is also recommended in the above “2012 Interdisciplinary Study” ordered by the EU Council. As a result, a new way of "developing / teaching science" is emerging, closer to the stakeholders, with emphasis on best available science to support decision making. The ultimate aim is to improve the scientific basis (using hard and soft sciences) needed for the development of a robust, equitable and socially acceptable energy mix. This approach also is aligned with the above European principles of governance (i.e.: openness, participation, accountability, effectiveness and coherence).


    Euratom Horizon-2020, together with international and national RIE programmes, will contribute to the emergence of a new generation of highly qualified experts in nuclear fission energy and radiation protection. These experts gain valuable international experience, in particular, through continuous professional development based on the best KSC available. This new generation of nuclear experts is expected to solve increasingly complex problems related to energy, safety and security as well as health and environmental protection.


    The following warning, however, should be made regarding Euratom indirect actions in nuclear fission and radiation protection (conducted by DG Research and Innovation). Because of the rather limited funding available for this Euratom programme (< Euro 60 million per year), very strong coordination between the nuclear fission stakeholders is required regarding management and financing in order to ensure the necessary resources and programme stability over a long period of time. In other words: under Horizon 2020, more than ever, a strong governance structure, involving Euratom and all stakeholders, is needed to achieve the expected "multiplication factor" in public and private nuclear fission RIE programmes.


    As far as transition to post-carbon economy in the long-term is concerned, one could envision an alliance between nuclear fission and renewable sources of energy. This alliance would be beneficial in terms of sustainability, security/diversification of supply and competitiveness of the energy mix (thereby meeting the stakeholder needs). This objective is echoed, for example, in the 5th Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC-5, Synthesis - Summary for policy makers - November 2014). Here is an excerpt (page 82): Scenarios that are likely to maintain warming at below 2°C include more rapid improvements in energy efficiency and a tripling to nearly a quadrupling of the share of zero- and low-carbon energy supply from renewable energy, nuclear energy and fossil energy with carbon dioxide capture and storage (CCS) or bioenergy with CCS (BECCS) by the year 2050.


    Finally, taking a broader view, it is worth quoting the new “EU approach to science diplomacy" as proposed by Mr Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation (1 June 2015, European Institute, Washington), i.e.: how to make best use of the common language and ideals of science to improve international relations between countries (including, for example, promoting world-wide an effective nuclear safety governance):

    "our approach to science diplomacy, as democratic continents, should be one in which everyone is welcome. Where channels of communication are always open. Where peace and prosperity are not the by-products of scientific cooperation, but the end goal".


    Brussels, 30 September 2015

    < georges.m.vangoethem@gmail.com >



Beginning of the paper