• EU Parliament votes through green coal and steel research plan

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      Greg Kelsall

Cristian Bușoi, the Parliament’s rapporteur for the coal and steel research fund

A large majority of the European Union (EU) Parliament has voted through an updated legal framework for the EU’s Research Fund for Coal and Steel.  This will allow the programme to finance new technologies in steel production, develop clean energy in former coal mines, exploit geothermal energy, improve battery technology and contribute to research in the production of ‘green’ hydrogen.

Money will also be available for developing and testing carbon dioxide capture, including carbon recycling in fuels and materials.  Projects on turning coal waste into battery anodes or carbon fibres could also be funded.

Coal and steel are the foundation stones of the EU, with six countries signing the original European Coal and Steel Community Treaty in 1951 to bring these industries under a common set of rules.  Since the treaty expired in 2002, the European Commission (EC) has spent around €40 million per year on coal and steel projects at universities, research centres and private companies.

The coal and steel research fund will complement other instruments in the recently-launched Horizon Europe research and innovation programme, and the EC’s Just Transition Fund, a scheme aiming to help regions that still rely on coal for energy and steel production to move towards cleaner energy sources.

A Horizon Europe partnership will focus on bringing about innovations in clean steel production.  EC officials hope that the first joint calls for projects within the clean steel partnership in Horizon Europe will be launched as early as next month.

Cybersecurity research centre

Members of the EU Parliament also gave their stamp of approval to the new European Cybersecurity Industrial, Technology and Research Competence Centre.  This research centre, to be based in Bucharest, Romania, is part of the EU’s plan to build its own digital infrastructures and achieve technology sovereignty in an area that is critical for both competitiveness and security.  The centre will also work on projects with the Digital Europe and Horizon Europe programmes.