Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn: open letter for the Italian Bioeconomy


Ladies and gentlemen,

While I cannot be with you in person at this important conference, I am delighted to be able to briefly share some thoughts with you via this open letter.

The Italian Forum on Industrial Biotechnology and Bioeconomy addresses many subjects of direct relevance to the European Union’s priorities in the field of research and innovation, in particular Innovation Union, the new Horizon 2020 programme and the European Bioeconomy Strategy.

The innovation potential of industrial biotechnology is huge. It can make a major contribution to greening Europe’s industries by providing more sustainable and resource efficient processes. It will also deliver entirely new ways of transforming renewable biological resources into a wide range of products. The development of biorefineries, the factories in which such  processes are to be implemented, will trigger new investments and create many new jobs in rural areas. The development of bio-based products will open new markets and strengthen the competitiveness of European companies.

The advancement of bio-based products will also reduce our dependency on fossil resources and contribute substantially to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Let me elaborate on one concrete example which you will cover during this conference. The European Commission recently made  a proposal to amend important Directives on renewable energy and fuel quality, in particular in connection with biofuels. Some biofuels may not achieve the desired level of greenhouse gas emission savings due to so-called ILUC (indirect land-use change) effects. In order to make sure that we achieve the necessary emission reductions, the proposal will encourage the use of advanced biofuels. Discussions on new technologies, such as those you have scheduled here, followed by rapid deployment will be essential if we are to achieve our goals.

Europe is fully determined to build a strong bioeconomy. The European Bioeconomy Strategy is designed to deliver a significant contribution to the Europe 2020 goals of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.

Coming to Horizon 2020, an important aim of the new programme for Research and Innovation for the period 2014-2020, is to address major societal challenges. Building the bio-economy is a prominent part of this approach. Industrial biotechnology and research and innovation activities in the field of bio-based industries have an essential role to play in this regard.

The European Commission has also identified biotechnology as a Key Enabling Technology for the competitiveness of European industries. As a consequence, biotechnology-related activities have been included in all three priority areas of Horizon 2020: promoting scientific excellence, building competitive industries and addressing societal challenges.

A significant part of the budget earmarked for bioeconomy research and innovation activities will be invested in developing bio-based industries and their value chains. The European Commission is considering the possibility of implementing this part of Horizon 2020 through a Public-Private Partnership.

Discussions on a proposal for such a PPP on Bio-based Industries are on-going with the relevant industries. This partnership could offer you a unique opportunity to get more directly involved in research and innovation activities at EU level.

In fact, you can get started today. The public consultation on the possible PPP on Bio-based Industries is open until 14 December. You can contribute by going to the website of the Directorate General for Research and Innovation (http://ec.europa.eu/research/consultations/bio_based_h2020/consultation_en.htm) or the website “Your Voice in Europe”.

I strongly encourage you to take part in this consultation and I look forward to our continued collaboration.

Together, we can strengthen the competitiveness of our bio-based industries and build an even stronger European bioeconomy. I trust this conference will trigger many new ideas and initiatives. I am convinced that Horizon 2020 will provide great opportunities to help put these into practice.

Commissioner GEOGHEGAN-QUINN

Brussels, 22 October 2012

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