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Everyone talks about the crisis – EU is doing something about it

Higher Education Minister Morten Østergaard's speech at Avedøreværket in Copenhagen 10 January 2012 in connection with Denmark's EU presidency.

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Everyone talks about the weather

Ladies and gentlemen. As they say: Everybody talks about the weather. But nobody does anything about it. And it's true – we can't control the weather.

That is also true when you try to utilise the weather as an energy source. You can't turn up the sun or the wind when you turn on the oven or a hair dryer.

Today, it is easy to balance electricity consumption with production. It just involves using more or less fuel in the power station's generators. But with increased use of sustainable energy, the electricity companies can't regulate in the same way as before.

The trick is finding out how to adjust for consumption. Universities and private companies from 11 European countries are involved in an EU project to find a solution to this problem.

As a significant part of the project, 2000 families on the Danish island of Bornholm will help test Smart Grid – the intelligent electricity system of the future.

The large demonstration project aims to show that Smart Grid is part of the solution to best utilising green energy. DTU is also part of the project. And I know that DONG, Vestas and Danfoss are also researching Smart Grid. Denmark is considered a world leader in developing tomorrow's green, flexible and intelligent power systems.

The crisis must be addressed

I've mentioned Smart Grid because it contains part of the answer that Europe is looking for. The EU is facing some great challenges, maybe the greatest since the establishment of European cooperation.

  • We must ensure financial stability.
  • We must create jobs and growth.
  • We must ensure a green and sustainable Europe.

And I'm sure that my colleague also agrees when I say that research and innovation is also part of the answer to Europe's challenges. The EU project mentioned provides three fundamental answers to the challenges.

  • It shows the importance of research.
  • It shows the importance of collaboration between universities and businesses.
  • And it shows the importance of European cooperation.

Horizon 2020 and the Danish Presidency

Europe's future is dependent on knowledge. Europe is dependent on the ability to transform knowledge into competitive and innovative products and services.

The European Commission is taking the right path by strengthening the forthcoming framework programme for research and innovation. The programme has been very appropriately dubbed Horizon 2020.

  • It's appropriate because we must find long-term and sustainable solutions.
  • It's appropriate because we need to widen our horizons.
  • It's appropriate because we need a new vision for European research and innovation in these rapidly changing economic times.

Horizon 2020 aims to promote European research and technological development with growth as the ultimate objective. The programme focuses on translating scientific breakthroughs to innovative products and services. Horizon 2020 identifies the grand challenges we face within climate, demographics, sustainability and energy.

The Danish Presidency will work to ensure progress in Horizon 2020 negotiations so that a joint decision by the Council and the European Parliament can be as far-reaching as possible.

The Presidency will also work towards ensuring that the framework programme is marked by more simplicity and flexibility. Simplicity and flexibility is a prerequisite for securing greater participation of companies, especially SMEs.

There must be less time spent on application procedures, paper work and forms so that researchers have more time in the lab. We want – to quote the European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn – more research and less bureaucracy.

Only together can we solve challenges

Green growth and sustainability are high on the Danish agenda. And we believe that we're good at finding intelligent solutions. Some point out that the presidency is an opportunity – a display window – for Denmark to show how we tackle some of the future's challenges. But it is also a display window for the EU.

And it is an opportunity for Danish citizens to learn the benefits of European cooperation. Fewer and fewer problems are only national, while more and more are transnational. Not least climate change and environmental impact.

And it is vital that we not just stare at the reflection of our own accomplishments – but see all the possibilities. It is important that the different national strategies and investments are working towards the same goal. Just as we in Denmark have to cooperate in order to solve our problems – only cooperation can solve the European crisis.

Everyone talks about the crisis – the EU is doing something about it

Everyone talks about the weather. But nobody does anything about it. Everyone talks about the crisis. The EU is doing something about it. When the storms come we shouldn't hide behind windbreakers. No; we should build wind turbines.

A great effort within research and innovation is crucial for development, growth and prosperity in Europe. And it is a prerequisite for a green and sustainable Europe. Horizon 2020 is therefore incredibly important.

Europe is being challenged, but the EU is strong and we are ready to accept the challenge. We need to be prepared for tomorrow. And the answers are more research, more cooperation, and more Europe.

Thank you.

last modified Dec 21, 2021