We herewith have the pleasure of sending you the second edition of the EUROLAB newsletter gathering the latest news and updates in the laboratory field.
We hope that you, your families and your organisations are doing well under the current special circumstances.
Since the outbreak of the COVID 19 pandemic all physical activities of EUROLAB have been cancelled or postponed till 2021.
The EUROLAB secretariat has tried to keep you informed about the latest developments in the laboratory sector.
Our office was closed during the last three months but is now partially reopened since the 1st of July.
During the lockdown the EUROLAB Board organised several remote zoom Board meetings to discuss several relevant issues.
The intention is to organise later this year remote zoom meetings with all EUROLAB members to stay connected with our world.
For now we wish you all the best and a sunny and relaxing summer holiday vacation in the coming months.
Common rulebook on automated driving gets go-ahead:
More than 50 countries, including Japan, South Korea and the EU member states, have agreed common regulations for vehicles that can take over some driving functions, including having a mandatory black box, the UN announced Thursday.
Germany calls for tightened AI regulation at EU level:
Four months after the European Commission presented its ‘white paper’ on Artificial Intelligence (AI), the German government said it broadly agrees with Brussels but sees a need to tighten up on security. The government is particularly concerned by the fact that only AI applications with “high risk” have to meet special requirements.
Commission presents European Skills Agenda for sustainable competitiveness, social fairness and resilience
The Commission presents the European Skills Agenda for sustainable competitiveness, social fairness and resilience. It sets ambitious, quantitative objectives for upskilling (improving existing skills) and reskilling (training in new skills) to be achieved within the next 5 years. Its 12 actions focus on skills for jobs by partnering up with Member States, companies and social partners to work together for change, by empowering people to embark on lifelong learning, and by using the EU budget as a catalyst to unlock public and private investment in people's skills.
Source: European Commission
EU launches a €10.5 million call for projects in #Cybersecurity:
The Commission has launched a new call, worth €10.5 million through the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) programme, for projects that will work on stepping up Europe’s cybersecurity capabilities and cooperation across member states. In particular, they will work in various areas, such as on co-ordinated response to cybersecurity incidents, cybersecurity certification, capacity building and institutional co-operation on cybersecurity matters, as well as co-operation between the public and the private sector.
Source: EU Reporter
Pascal Canfin: On gas and nuclear, EU must apply green finance taxonomy:
Whether in the European recovery plan or the just transition fund, Pascal Canfin says he is in favour of applying the EU sustainable finance taxonomy, which allows drawing a line between gas projects that merit public funding and those that don’t.
EU grapples with ‘regressive’ climate laws
Avoiding another “yellow vest” movement will be crucial for the success of its energy transition as Europe moves forward with a new wave of policies aimed at cutting emissions down to net zero by 2050, policymakers say.
#GreenDeal – Coal and other carbon-intensive regions and the Commission launch the #EuropeanJustTransitionPlatform:
The Just Transition Platform (JTP) will be launched to help member states to draw up their territorial Just Transition Plans and access funding from the over €150 billion Just Transition Mechanism. This online platform will provide technical and advisory support for public and private stakeholders in coal and other carbon-intensive regions, with easy access to information on funding opportunities and sources of technical assistance.
Source: EU Reporter
Merkel kicks off EU presidency with Brexit warning:
The European Union must prepare for the possibility that talks with Britain on their post-Brexit relationship could fail, Chancellor Angela Merkel warned Wednesday (1 July) as Germany took the helm of the bloc’s rotating presidency.
The US Department of Defense announced this week their intention to invest $100 million into consortia to advance hydrogen and fuel cell technologies research and development.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the intention to invest up to $100 million over five years in two new DOE National Laboratory-led consortia to advance hydrogen and fuel cell technologies research and development (R&D). This funding is subject to appropriations.
Amazon forms Counterfeit Crimes Unit to go after bogus sellers. Amazon says that its existing anti-counterfeiting programs have done well so far, with the company noting that “99.9% of all Amazon products viewed by customers did not have a valid counterfeit complaint.” What’s more, the company says that in 2019, it “blocked over 6 billion suspected bad listings” and “blocked over 2.5 million suspected bad actor accounts before they were able to make a single product available for sale.”
Source: Slash Gear
The National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence (NCCoE) has invited seven technology providers and industry experts to collaborate on two Data Confidentiality projects:
Data Confidentiality: Identifying and Protecting Assets and Data Against Data Breaches and Data Confidentiality: Detect, Respond to, and Recover from Data Breaches. The collaborators are Avrio Software; Cisco; Dispel; FireEye; PKWARE; StrongKey; and Symantec, a division of Broadcom. These collaborators will work with the NCCoE Data Security team to provide practical solutions to help companies effectively identify and protect assets against data confidentiality attacks and efficiently detect, respond to, and recover from attacks if they should happen. The result will be two freely available National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Cybersecurity Practice Guides. Each of these organizations responded to a notice in the Federal Register to submit capabilities that aligned with desired solution characteristics for the project. The accepted collaborators were extended a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement, enabling them to participate in consortiums where they will contribute expertise and hardware or software to help refine a reference design and build example standards-based solutions. To learn more about the projects, read the project descriptions for Data Confidentiality: Identifying and Protecting Assets and Data Against Data Breaches and Data Confidentiality: Detect, Respond to, and Recover from Data Breaches. If you would like to join the Data Security community of interest, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
A 'new Cold War'?: How the US-China trade dispute is deepening.
The U.S. and China are moving beyond bellicose trade threats to exchanging regulatory punches that threaten a wide range of industries including technology, energy and air travel. The two countries have blacklisted each other's companies, barred flights and expelled journalists. The unfolding skirmish is starting to make companies nervous the trading landscape could shift out from under them. Source: Al Jazeera
Statement from the Pres Secretary Regarding the United States- Mexico- Canada Agreement.
Source: White House
US shift to renewables gains momentum. A gradual move towards renewables was already underway, and the pandemic is helping to push coal further out of favour The US is on course to increase its uptake of renewables further this year. The trend is not new, as it was already playing out some time before the emergence of Covid-19. However, early indications appear to be that the pandemic is encouraging the shift away from coal-fired generation, which is increasingly falling out of favour for multiple reasons. Source: Petroleum Economist
UK repeats desire to protect food standards in U.S. trade talks.
The second round of trade talks between the United States and United Kingdom has ended with food standards, including safety, still high on the agenda. Negotiations on a free trade agreement (FTA) took place from June 15 to 26 with the next session planned for the end of July. They began in May with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. The U.S. is the UK’s largest bilateral trading partner and biggest export market outside of the EU. Trade Minister Liz Truss said there is no set deadline for any agreement. “The government remains clear on protecting the National Health Service (NHS) and not compromising on the UK’s high environmental protection, animal welfare and food safety standards,” she said. Source: Food Safety News
The rise of AI in medicine. By now, it’s almost old news that artificial intelligence (AI) will have a transformative role in medicine. Algorithms have the potential to work tirelessly, at faster rates and now with potentially greater accuracy than clinicians. Source: Varsity
FDA Issues Guidance Regarding Compliance Dates for Unique Device Identification Requirements The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued the immediately in effect guidance: Unique Device Identification: Policy Regarding Compliance Dates for Class I and Unclassified Devices and Certain Devices Requiring Direct Marking.
The guidance explains several key elements of the FDA’s policy regarding Unique Device Identification compliance dates. Stakeholders should understand that the FDA:
This guidance will be open for public comments https://www.regulations.gov under Docket Number FDA-2017-D-6841.
Counterfeit and illegal sellers to be targeted in Digital Services Act, Vestager says: A crackdown on the sale of counterfeit and illegal goods across online platforms is likely to feature in the European Commission’s upcoming Digital Services Act plans, the EU’s Vice-President for Digital Affairs, Margrethe Vestager has said.
Cyber defence in the ‘New Normal’
The COVID-19 pandemic is having a massive societal and economic impact, although the full effects have yet to unfold and be fully assessed. Such an analysis should take into account several factors, including a stronger and better preparation for the next ‘unknown unknown’.
Source: The Parliament
Summer 2020 Economic Forecast: An even deeper recession with wider divergences: The EU economy will experience a deep recession this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, despite the swift and comprehensive policy response at both EU and national levels. Because the lifting of lockdown measures is proceeding at a more gradual pace than assumed in our Spring Forecast, the impact on economic activity in 2020 will be more significant than anticipated. The Summer 2020 Economic Forecast projects that the euro area economy will contract by 8.7% in 2020 and grow by 6.1% in 2021. The EU economy is forecast to contract by 8.3% in 2020 and grow by 5.8% in 2021. The contraction in 2020 is, therefore, projected to be significantly greater than the 7.7% projected for the euro area and 7.4% for the EU as a whole in the Spring Forecast. Growth in 2021 will also be slightly less robust than projected in the spring.
Source: European Commission
Powering a climate-neutral economy: Commission sets out plans for the energy system of the future and clean hydrogen
To become climate-neutral by 2050, Europe needs to transform its energy system, which accounts for 75% of the EU's greenhouse gas emissions. The EU strategies for energy system integration and hydrogen, adopted today, will pave the way towards a more efficient and interconnected energy sector, driven by the twin goals of a cleaner planet and a stronger economy.The two strategies present a new clean energy investment agenda, in line with the Commission's Next Generation EU recovery package and the European Green Deal. The planned investments have the potential to stimulate the economic recovery from the coronavirus crisis. They create European jobs and boost our leadership and competitiveness in strategic industries, which are crucial to Europe's resilience.
Source: European Commission
EU, China and Canada renew pledge for climate action, despite virus
In spite of the economic crisis posed by the coronavirus pandemic, the EU, China and Canada sent “a clear political signal” on Tuesday (7 July) that they are still committed to the Paris Agreement on climate change.
Commission chews over changes to aviation emissions rules:
The European Commission revealed on Friday (3 July) details about how it plans to adapt climate policy to the aviation sector, by integrating a global offsetting scheme into EU rules and slashing free pollution permits. According to analysis published last week, the Commission is looking into how the EU’s carbon market can co-exist with an international system – set up under the auspices of the UN – known as CORSIA, which is due to kick in over the course of this decade.
Farm to Fork: In search of a solution-oriented approach
The debate over the targets specified in the Farm to Fork strategy (F2F) has inevitably prompted extensive attention, both before and after the strategy was launched.
Oil Went Below $0. Some Think It Will Rebound to $150 One Day. Debate rages about the long-term value of crude in the wake of its collapse and quick recovery. Oil markets began the 2020s by nosediving below $0 a barrel for the first time. Investors and analysts are now trying to work out what the rest of the decade holds in store. Some think the bust will set in motion a boom, predicting that investment in oil-and-gas production will dry up and propel crude prices back above $100 a barrel.
Source: Wall Street Journal
Pandemic looms over Trump trade day with Mexican president. President Donald Trump on Wednesday celebrated the beginning of the new North American trade pact, symbolically signing his signature trade deal with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador in a ceremony at the White House. The signing marked a rare bipartisan diplomatic achievement for a president staring down a resurgence of the coronavirus pandemic as he enters a heated election season trailing former Vice President Joe Biden. Source: Politico
China unlikely to meet U.S. trade targets. Economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic has cast doubt on whether China can meet its targets to buy U.S. goods under this year's trade deal -- with energy emerging as the biggest casualty. China has made strides toward its agricultural and manufacturing targets, but it remains far behind -- maybe hopelessly far -- an ambitious target for purchases of oil, natural gas, refined petroleum products like propane and butane, and coal, prompting concerns from the U.S. energy industry which is encouraging the U.S. Trade Representative to increase pressure on China to reach the goal. Source: MarketWatch
Plunging Renewable Energy Prices Mean U.S. Can Hit 90% Clean Electricity By 2035 - At No Extra Cost. Renewable energy has historically been considered too expensive and too unreliable to power our grid, but new research has overturned that trope for good. Plummeting wind, solar, and storage prices have fallen so fast that the United States can reach 90% clean electricity by 2035 – without raising customer costs at all from today’s levels, and actually decreasing wholesale power costs 10%. Source: Forbes
US, India to increase collaboration for clean energy development. The US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) have announced the launch of a partnership between the USAID-supported South Asia Group for Energy (SAGE) and MNRE’s National Technical Institutions.
Source: The Hindu Business Line
Manufacturing Sector Paid Out 62% of Total Ransomware Payments in 2019. The manufacturing industry spent more than any other sector last year on ransomware payments, paying out $6.9m, according to a new study by Kivu Consulting. This represents 62% of the total $11m+ of ransoms transferred to cyber-criminals throughout 2019, despite manufacturing only making up 18% of all paid ransom cases. Over two-thirds (67%) of paid ransomware attacks against organizations from this industry were conducted via a crypto-ransomware called Ryuk. This uses encryption to block access to a system, file or device until a ransom is paid.
The EU court ruling that could blow up digital trade
In a ruling this week, the bloc's top court is set to decide on the legality of instruments used to ferry data from the EU around the world — and possibly a data protection deal with Washington known as Privacy Shield too. If the Luxembourg-based court rules that the instruments, known as Standard Contractual Clauses (SCCs), are illegal, or that Privacy Shield is beyond repair, the effects will be immediate and far-reaching. Hundreds of billions of euros in digital trade will fall into legal limbo, and the long-running legal dispute — grounded in fears about U.S. surveillance — could balloon into a geopolitical crisis.
Kyriakides: Investments will match EU’s ambition on sustainable food systems
The EU’s determination to become a global leader in sustainability will be matched by investments in solutions to deliver on the commitments set out in the EU’s new food policy, Commissioner Stella Kyriakides told EURACTIV.com in an exclusive interview.
MEP: Precision farming should be part of member states’ recovery plans
Precision farming practices, including digital farming, are the best way to deliver the EU’s strategic goals of being green, smart and safe and should be part of the National Recovery and Resilience Plans of all member states, according to MEP Petros Kokkalis.
‘Not all biomass is carbon neutral’, industry admits
Leading industry figures acknowledge that not all biomass brings benefits to the climate, insisting that only low-value wood and forest residues should make the cut under EU law.
Green budget rules won’t be the hottest potato at EU summit talks
Plans to reserve 30% of European Union spending for climate objectives will not be the hottest topic on the agenda when EU leaders meet on Friday (17 July). And that may be good news for the climate. Source: Euractiv
Green NGOs demand EU dumps controversial energy treaty
Green groups have renewed their demand for the EU and member states to jointly withdraw from the controversial Energy Charter Treaty (ECT). The ECT is an international agreement that grants cross-border cooperation in the energy sector, signed in 1994 by nearly 50 countries, including all EU member states, plus most countries from eastern Europe, central Asia, and Japan.
Source: EU Observer
EU, India move closer to free trade deal
Following an online summit between the European Union and India, the two powers have announced plans to set up a "high-level dialogue" on investment and trade. Details of any potential free trade pact remain uncertain.
Source: Deutsche Welle
Amazon will start listing names and addresses of Marketplace sellers to combat counterfeiting
Amazon will start publicly listing the names and addresses of US-based third-party sellers on its Marketplace platform as a measure to fight counterfeiters, according to a report from Business Insider. The change was announced in a note sent to sellers last Wednesday, and the change goes into effect on September 1st. “These features help customers learn more about the businesses of a seller and the products that they are selling,” the note says, according to a copy obtained by Business Insider. In a statement given to The Verge, Amazon confirmed the policy change. “Over the years, we have developed many ways for sellers to share more about their business, including through features like the seller profile pages, ‘Store’ pages for brand owners, and Handmade ‘Maker Profile’ pages,” a company spokesperson says. “These features help customers learn more about sellers’ businesses and their products. Beginning September 1, we will also display sellers’ business name and address on their Amazon.com seller profile page to ensure there is a consistent baseline of seller information to help customers make informed shopping decisions.”
Health Canada warns of counterfeit N95 respirators
Health Canada has issued a product safety warning after identifying counterfeit respirators, which it says may not provide the proper protection.
The agency said in the Monday evening safety notice that Shanghai Lansheng Light Industrial Products was found to be selling counterfeit N95 respirators using another company’s name -- Shanghai Dasheng Health Products Manufacture Co. Ltd. Health Canada said these respirators were falsely labelled as approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), though they may not provide that level of protection. Health Canada added that the company has been told to stop the sale of its product and issue a recall. It is also working with the Canada Border Services Agency to prevent the product from entering the Canadian market.
FDA releases food safety blueprint that uses tech to bolster visibility, recall tracking.
The FDA believes tech-enabled traceability; using smarter tools and approaches for prevention and outbreak response; taking advantage of new business models and retail modernization; and fostering, strengthening and supporting a culture of food safety will reduce foodborne illnesses, Commissioner Stephen Hahn announced in the agency's New Era of Smarter Food Safety Blueprint, released this week.
Source: Supply Chain Dive
Standards from DCSA enable automated sharing of vessel schedules.
The Digital Container Shipping Association (DCSA), a consortium of nine of the 11 largest ocean carriers, has published standards for exchanging operational vessel schedules (OVS), the Interface Standard for OVS 1.0, according to a press release from the group.
Source: Supply Chain Dive
House Democrats officially unveiled their vision for solving the climate crisis, detailing a plan on Tuesday that would put the U.S. on a path to reaching net-zero emissions by 2050. The sweeping plan touches nearly every sector of the economy, pushing for rapid deployment of renewable energy, cleaning up transportation through electric vehicles and a massive expansion of public transit, and promoting cleaner buildings and manufacturing processes.
Source: The Hill
Trump weakens environmental law to speed up infrastructure projects.
US President Donald Trump has announced alterations to a landmark environmental law, in a controversial move to allow projects to go ahead with less oversight. Mr Trump touted changes to the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) as a "historic breakthrough".He said they would speed up reviews of major infrastructure projects. But critics say the changes amount to the dismantling of the 50-year-old law and are a giveaway to polluters. Signed into law by President Richard Nixon in 1970, the NEPA is considered to be the bedrock of environmental safeguards in the US.
Source: BBC News
Oil giants including Exxon set first joint carbon target.
A group of the world’s top oil companies, including Saudi Aramco, China’s CNPC and Exxon Mobil, have for the first time set goals to cut their greenhouse gas emissions as a proportion of output, as pressure on the sector’s climate stance grows.
EU citizens raise concerns about online data misuse
More than one in two citizens of the European Union are concerned about the misuse of their online data by fraudsters and cybercriminals, a new EU study has found. The news comes ahead of the publication of the Commission’s Security Union Strategy, which is due to be presented by the Commission on Friday (24 July) and will include efforts to bolster the EU’s resilience against online security threats. The plans were originally due to be released earlier this week but faced a setback as the college of Commissioners’ meeting was postponed. As part of a recent survey undertaken by the EU’s agency for fundamental rights published on Wednesday, an average of 55% of respondents said they are concerned that the information they share online and on social media, could be maliciously accessed.
After cybercriminals, around one in three citizens (31%) are apprehensive about their data being accessed by businesses without their permission, followed by foreign governments (30%), the research, based on responses of 35,000 people across the EU, UK & North Macedonia, found.
EU-US Data Protection Shield inadequate, EU Court rules
The Court of Justice of the EU decided Thursday to invalidate the EU-US Privacy Shield on grounds of an inadequate levels of protection given to European consumer data transferred to the United States. Source: EUbusiness
What the European Council on recovery tells us about European climate politics
After five long days and nights of negotiations, European leaders struck a deal on the seven-year EU budget and “Next Generation EU” recovery plans on Tuesday. What did this European Council tell us about the politics of green and resilient recovery in the EU? Jennifer Tollman, Johanna Lehne and Rebekka Popp explain.
Jennifer Tollmann and Johanna Lehne are policy advisers and Rebekka Popp is a researcher at E3G, an independent think tank operating to accelerate the transition to a climate-safe world.
Two steps forward on climate
It is easy to forget just how central climate has become to European politics since the last European budget negotiations in 2013. Post-Paris Agreement and in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, European citizens are placing a clear priority on climate action. Calls for a green recovery from within the EU and without, meant that this time around, EU leaders were under pressure to agree a baseline commitment to climate action:
While questions remain over exactly how climate earmarking and “do no harm” provisions will be put into practice and monitored, this represents a substantial investment in a better recovery.
Investors call out for green opportunities, as EU aims to open the door
In order to make the post-pandemic recovery as sustainable as possible, long-term green investments will be in hot demand. Participants at a virtual conference called “Investing post-COVID: is a green recovery assured?” called for more opportunities and a viable framework.
Commission wants to maximise role of taxation in EU’s climate goals
Aiming to maximise the role of taxation in meeting the EU’s climate goals, the European Commission launched on July 23 public consultations on the revision of the Energy Tax Directive (ETD) and the creation of a Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM).
POLITICO’s guide to the EU budget deal
Who gets what under the new 7-year spending plan.
After more than two years of negotiations and a global pandemic, EU leaders have agreed on their spending plans for the next seven years.
The 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) will be €1.074 trillion and will be accompanied by a €750 billion EU recovery fund, under the groundbreaking plan that will also see countries jointly borrow on the financial markets for the first time.
UK backs Donald Trump on China — up to a point.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo paid a visit to Britain on Tuesday as part of his mission to build a coalition of nations against China that can "push back" against human rights abuses in Hong Kong and Xinjiang, regional aggression in Asia and trade infringements across the world.
UK, US and Canada accuse Russia of vaccine research hacking. Britain, the United States and Canada on Thursday (16 July) risked worsening fraught diplomatic ties with Russia by accusing Moscow-linked hackers of targeting labs in their countries conducting coronavirus vaccine research.
UK abandons hope of U.S. trade deal by end of year.
The British government has abandoned hopes of clinching a U.S. free trade deal ahead of the presidential election, with officials blaming the novel coronavirus outbreak for slow progress, the Financial Times reported. “Is it going to happen this year? Basically, no,” said one official quoted by the FT. Another was quoted as saying: “We don’t want to be bounced into a deal”.
New York launches largest renewable solicitation in US history.
4 GW of offshore wind and land-based renewables are set to come to the Empire State, as Gov. Andrew Cuomo looks to achieve the state’s renewable energy mandates while also kickstarting a post-Covid economy.
Source: PV Magazine
NIST to Help Labs Achieve Accurate THC, CBD Measurements.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has launched a program to help laboratories accurately measure key chemical compounds in marijuana, hemp and other cannabis products including oils, edibles, tinctures and balms. The program aims to increase accuracy in product labeling and help forensic laboratories distinguish between hemp, which is legal in all states, and marijuana, which is not. Source: NIST
NAM Leads Fights Against Counterfeit Products.
The nation is counting on manufacturers to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and help spur the recovery and renewal of the U.S. economy. But counterfeiters have tried to take advantage of the situation, and their fake goods and products now pose an even greater threat to the health and safety of all Americans. To fight this growing problem, the National Association of Manufacturers has released its latest research, “Countering Counterfeits,” which includes proposed solutions for Congress, the administration and the private sector to pursue.