Stay updated on the latest developments in plant science policy and EPSO activities!
The European Commission has published a new article on the FAQ website of the Funding & Tenders Portal, which addresses possible disruptions of the implementation of H2020 projects, additional costs and travel cancellations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Commission refers to the possibility of applying Article 51 of the H2020 Model Grant Agreement (MGA), which regulates the case of force majeure. Beneficiaries can rely on it if they are unable to meet their contractual obligations due to unusual and unpredictable events beyond their control. These cases are therefore not considered as a breach of contract. The prerequisite is that the beneficiaries immediately inform the Commission or the Executive Agencies about the disruption of the project. In addition, they must take all necessary steps to keep the damage caused by the disruption low (e.g. timely cancellation of orders or travel).
According to the explanations in the Annotated Model Grant Agreement, additional costs incurred due to force majeure (e.g. costs for the reorganization of an event) should in principle be borne by the beneficiaries. However, the new FAQ article promises a possibility of reimbursement of these costs as long as the maximum grant amount is not exceeded. Such costs must also meet the general requirements for reimbursement and must not have already been reimbursed by any other source. The same applies to costs for trips that cannot take place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The possibility of reimbursement of cancellation costs is also confirmed once again by the response of the European Commission to a request of our Austrian colleagues from the FFG, which you can find on their website. It stresses in particular that the beneficiaries must immediately inform the responsible project officer at the Commission or the Executive Agencies who then decide on the application of Article 51 H2020 MGA on a case-by-case basis.
Source : EC & KoWi, 20.3.2020
The deadline for pre-proposal submission is postponed from April 9 to April 28 2020, 13:00h (CEST) due to the current public health situation in Europe.
Following the Co-funded Call in 2018 (first call), the aim of this second call is to support scientifically excellent transnational research, development and innovation projects that contribute to the improvement of sustainability (environmental, economic and societal) and resilience of crop production.
There are currently at least 16 funding organisations from 12 countries intending to support the Call including France, Latvia, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, United Kingdom, Poland, Belgium, Finland, Spain, Romania (tbc), and Turkey.
SusCrop is an ERA-Net Cofund Action under H2020, which aims to strengthen the European Research Area (ERA) in the field of Sustainable Crop Production through enhanced cooperation and coordination of different national and regional research programmes. In this regard, SusCrop brings together owners and managers of national and regional R&D&I programmes of EU Member States, EU-associated States and Third countries with significant experience in research funding and coordination.
Contact: Christian Breuer (coordinator) [email protected]
Due to the impact of the corona virus, the EPSO Board decided last week to hold the 2020 General Meeting as simultaneous regional General Meetings in 9 different regions across Europe, each one chaired by one Board member.
Though an unforeseen change, this can foster engagement of the EPSO Representatives, of EPSO Supporting Scientists and possibly encourage regional activities of EPSO members as they suggested at our 2019 General Meeting.
The meetings will have a common agenda including plenty of time for regional specific discussions.
To each regional GM one Representative per institutional member (A* members have more than one) will participate and can bring along 1 Supporting Scientist if they wish so as successfully done for the 2019 GM.
These will take place on the originally reserved dates of 2 July (e.g. start 3pm) and 3 July (e.g. close 4pm) 2020.
The Board member chairing the regional GM will decide in the coming weeks with the respective Representatives where to hold the regional meeting. In case of further travel restrictions in a region, the respective Board member and representatives can convert this into an online meeting as well.
You will receive the first preparatory email for the regional GMs on 3 April 2020.
Representatives are invited to confirm to Karin Metzlaff their participation by 31 March and that of one Supporting Scientists.
Looking forward to a series of very interactive regional General Meetings
Alan Schulman (President) and Karin Metzlaff (Executive Director)
Contact: Karin Metzlaff, EPSO Executive Director
EPSO welcomes the EC’s ‘Orientation paper’ and looks forward to actions across clusters and pillars to better address the Sustainable Development Goals and the EU Green Deal including the farm to fork and the biodiversity strategies. To this end, EPSO makes the following key recommendations to policy makers at European and national level:
1-Combine genetic, chemical, ecological and agronomic strategies for smart, diverse agriculture that benefits the environment and increases Food and Nutritional Security as well as Human Health
- Encourage contributions from plant scientists to help boost the water- and nutrient-use efficiency of agricultural crops and to improve resource stewardship for resilient and environmentally sustainable production in agriculture, horticulture and forestry
- Encourage contributions from plant scientists to improve plant / crop health for resilient and environmentally sustainable production, thereby supporting the one health concept in agriculture, horticulture and forestry
- Encourage contributions from (plant) scientists to not only help decrease the environmental footprint, but also improve Food and Nutritional Security for human health and wellbeing.
- Develop a food label acknowledging lower environmental footprint without reducing yield and quality
- Engage more stakeholders in research projects through a consultative process from the start
2-Support new technologies and adhere to international agreements by improving the legislation and supporting flagship projects utilising New Breeding Technologies
3-Ensure continued open access to Digital Sequence Information (DSI) – DSI must NOT be included under the Nagoya protocol, as this would prevent open access
4-Close the research and innovation cycle in pillar 2 of the Horizon Europe 2021-27 programme
5-Implement underlying concepts to address global challenges and EU priorities:
- 1001 Crops – Diverse crops for diverse diets, human health and resilient production.
- Encourage and combine crop improvement, crop management and crop processing
- Combine all available approached
These recommendations are relevant to the strategy for future Work Programmes as well as for Partnerships and Missions in Horizon Europe, particularly the partnerships ‘Accelerating farming systems transitions: agro-ecology living labs and research infrastructure’, ‘Rescuing biodiversity to safeguard life on earth’, Safe and sustainable Food System for People, Planet and Climate’ and ‘Circular bio-based Europe: Sustainable, inclusive and circular bio-based solutions’, and the mission area for ‘Soil and Food’.
Click here to read the full statement.
Contacts (see full statement): Karin Metzlaff, European Plant Science Organisation, EPSO; Alan Schulman, LUKE, FI & EPSO President; Ernst van den Ende, WUR, NL & EPSO Board
Today, the European Commission publish its Farm to Fork Strategy as part of the EU Green Deal policy. EPSO welcomes this publication and invites you to submit feedback to the European Commission’s public consultation on the “Sustainable food – ‘farm to fork’ strategy” Roadmap. This strategy can create more efficient, climate-smart systems that provide healthy food and decent living for EU farmers and fisherpeople in order to achieve the EU Green Deal goals. Plant science researcher are ready to contribute to implementing this strategy through research and innovation into sustainable food systems.
Submit your feedback here by 16 March 2020.
EPSO submitted key recommendations towards the Strategic programming to the European Commission including:
1 – Clusters 1 (Health) and 6 (Food, Bioeconomy, Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment (FBNRAE)) should jointly address Food and Nutritional Security (FNS) and Environmental sustainability and human health:
EPSO welcomes the link between Food and Health Clusters: 1) Crops without diseases, but with high plant secondary metabolite levels are beneficial for human health and help preventing diseases; 2) Plants in natural and cultured environments improve air quality and human wellbeing; Possibly add 3) Plant Made Pharmaceuticals contribute to novel medicines.
Keeping plants and animals healthy to supply safe food: We suggest adding ‘Improving crops to prevent plant pests and diseases relevant to human health (e.g. fungi) is an important contributor.’
2 – CLOSE THE RESEARCH AND INNOVATION CYCLE IN PILLAR 2:
EPSO urges to give more balanced consideration to basic research in relation to the other components (applied research, demonstration and innovation actions) of the research and innovation cycle in pillar 2. We currently miss potential benefits from basic research (incl. questions from innovation to basic research), hindering ground-breaking solutions addressing the SDGs. This could be better balanced by encouraging collaborative basic research as component and / or focus of RIA projects. This will widen participation incl. EU13, close gaps in collaborative research and bridge between the Excellent Science and Innovative Europe pillars. It will help private companies who need to build on the explorative research.
3-SUPPORT NEW TECHNOLOGIES – ADHERE TO INTERNATIONAL AGREEMENTS – BY IMPROVING THE LEGISLATION AND SUPPORTING FLAGSHIP PROJECTS:
Currently Europe’s position on New Breeding Technologies as laid down in article 2 of directive 2001/18/EC, which is binding for NBT, is not in line with the definition of Living Modified Organism as it is defined in article 3 (g) in the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention on Biological Diversity, an international agreement signed by 171 countries. Europe needs to have a more balanced approach to new technologies incl. improving the legislation and start flagship projects engaging all stakeholders from scientists, companies, farmers to end-users towards products with consumer benefits on the market in Europe and globally. In parallel to such projects, new concepts for deregulation, based on public-private risk and benefit sharing, need to be developed to enable SMEs bringing such products to the market. EPSO invites policy makers to exchange views on the current situation of genome editing in Europe and possible next steps to enable Europe better addressing climate change, achieving food and nutritional security and establishing a sustainable agriculture in Europe and world-wide.
4-Targeted impacts best / only reached through HE and suggestions to the content:
ALL from CLUSTER 1 – HEALTH:
To 3.1 Staying healthy in a rapidly changing society: Add the concept of ‘diverse crops for diverse diets and human health’ and the goal of ‘nutritional security’ to healthier food choices, health promotion and disease prevention.
To 3.2 Living and working in a health-promoting environment: Add the ‘importance of plants’ for health and well-being in terms of agriculture, horticulture and forests.
ALL from CLUSTER 6 – FBNRAE
To 3.4. Sustainable primary production, food and bio-based systems, FNS: Add ‘Diverse crops for diverse diets, human health and resilient production will become available.’ Sustainable, safe and healthy diets …a major shift to ‘diverse and’ healthy diets from sustainable food production systems ….
To 4.2. Biodiversity and Natural Capital: Link to increasing ‘cultured diversity’ in 4.3.
To 4.3. Agriculture, forestry and rural areas: Add the concepts of ‘improved crops’ (in addition to management approaches) and of ‘Diverse crops for diverse diets, human health and resilient production’.
To 4.5. Food systems: Link to the concepts of ‘improved crops’ (in addition to management) and of ‘Diverse crops for diverse diets, human health and resilient production’ in 4.3.
To 4.6. BBI Systems: Add to the use of nature’s “biological assets” ‘and improved crops, synthetic biology’…
5 – In general, the idea of the co-design process is very good and most welcome. We see better links between the clusters in pillar 2 and hope this will be translated into calls that are cross-clusters (or alternating led by always one of these clusters), which would be a major improvement versus the Horizon Europe programme.
The method of co-design could be easily improved by
- inviting free text contributions without set questions and only an overall text limit (e.g. 4 pages). Stakeholders would simply refer to certain chapters of the orientation paper on comment on these.
- Inviting umbrella organisations to participate in or recommend experts to the upcoming workshops the respective EC colleagues will organise to further develop and translate the Strategic Plan.
EPSO submitted these suggestions on 17.11.2019, to the EC: Horizon Europe online consultation for umbrella organisations regarding Orientations towards first Strategic Plan for Horizon Europe – vs 2 of 31.10.2019. the EPSO Contribution ID is 666b7610-ddca-4262-b4be-dc125b7ec2cf.
Contact : Karin Metzlaff / EPSO