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Research and innovation

Research Fund for Coal and Steel (RFCS)

Details of the RFCS, how to participate, how the fund is managed, legal documents and related events.

RFCS goal

The Research Fund for Coal and Steel (RFCS) co-finances through grants research and innovation projects in the areas of coal and steel.

Every year, the fund supports projects at universities, research centres, and private companies.

RFCS is a EU funding programme supporting research projects in the coal and steel sectors. The RFCS has its own legal bases and stands outside the Multiannual Financial Framework. It is funded via the revenues generated by the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) in liquidation assets, which are exclusively devoted to research in the sectors related to the coal and steel industry, in accordance with the provisions of Protocol (37) to the Treaties.

On 16 July 2020, the Commission adopted a package of proposals to revise the three legal bases regulating the Research Programme of the Research Fund for Coal and Steel.

On 19 July 2021, the EU adopted the new RFCS package. This modernisation act will enable the fund to use a portion of the assets of the European Steel and Coal Community (ECSC) in liquidation for the period 2021-27 in order to provide an annual RFCS allocation of € 111 million.

The Commission has the mandate, through its budgetary services, to manage the assets of the ECSC in liquidation.

This will contribute towards the funding of large clean steelmaking research and innovation breakthrough projects, leading to near zero-carbon steel making by 2030; and research projects for the coal sector, to assist the just transition of formerly operating coal mines or coal mines in the process of closure, and related infrastructure in line with the Just Transition Mechanism.

Specifically to the sector related to the steel industry, the Commission will aim to support research projects via a dedicated Clean Steel co-programmed partnership in synergy with other European Union’s programmes, especially with Horizon Europe.

RFCS funded projects will cover:

  • steel production processes
  • optimised utilisation and conservation of resources, energy savings and industrial efficiency improvements
  • health and safety at work
  • environmental protection
  • technologies supporting coal regions in transition
  • emission reductions from steel production

The RFCS and the European Green Deal

The European Partnership for Clean Steel has been officially launched on 24 June 2021, with the ceremony for the signature of a memorandum of understanding, during the third edition of the EU R&I days.

The Clean Steel Partnership will support research and innovation activities from the pilot to the demonstration phase of breakthrough technologies for carbon neutral steel production.

The Clean Steel Partnership relies on funds’ synergies to € 700 million coming in equal parts from Horizon Europe and assets of the European Coal and Steel Community in liquidation.

The RFCS research programme, is increasing its involvement in tackling climate and environmental-related challenges in line with the European Green Deal, presented by the Commission in December 2019.

One of the key actions in the roadmap annexed to the Communication on the European Green Deal is the proposal to support zero carbon steel-making processes by 2030.

According to the European Green Deal, "further decarbonising the energy system is critical to reach climate objectives in 2030 and 2050. The decarbonisation of the energy system also entails a rapid phasing out of coal and decarbonising gas."

Energy efficiency must be prioritised.

How the fund is managed

The fund is managed by the Commission in cooperation with the following committees and advisory groups.

  • The Coal and Steel Committee (COSCO)
    Composed of representatives of EU countries. Its role is to assist the Commission in the overall management of the fund.
  • The Coal and Steel Advisory Groups (CAG/SAG)
    Composed of technical advisers, appointed by the Commission to serve for a period of 42 months. Their role is to advise the Commission.
    CAG members and group details available on Register of Commission Expert Group and other Similar Entities
    SAG members and group details available on Register of Commission Expert Group and other Similar Entities
  • Technical Groups (TG)
    Composed of technical experts, appointed by the Commission. They support the Commission with monitoring of research/pilot or demonstration projects

Past and upcoming RFCS meetings

RFCS calls for proposal

New calls

Big Ticket for Coal 

Big Ticket for Steel

The electronic submission system, proposal templates and all other relevant documents for the two calls can be accessed via the Funding and Tenders Portal.

The RFCS is looking for highly qualified independent experts to act as evaluators during the next evaluation exercise.

To enroll as an expert for the RFCS, please register in the database of experts.

Annual RFCS call

The call for proposals for 2022 opens on 22 June 2022. The cut-off date is 22 September 2022, 17.00 CET Brussels time.

The rules for participation 2022 are laid out in the Research Fund for Coal and Steel (RFCS) Information Package 2022.

The electronic submission system, proposal templates and all other relevant documents can be accessed via the Funding and Tenders Portal.

The RFCS is looking for highly qualified independent experts to act as evaluators during the next evaluation exercise.

To enroll as an expert for the RFCS, please register in the database of experts.

Past calls for proposals

RFCS call for experts

The Call for expression of interest for expert evaluators for RFCS programme is open.

The RFCS is looking for highly qualified independent experts to act as evaluators with expertise and professional experience in one or more of the RFCS research objectives, in European Green Deal and socio-economic assessment.

To enroll as an expert, please register or update your profile in the Funding & Tender Portal and express your interest by sending an e-mail to REA-RFCS@ec.europa.eu indicating your registration number.

Documents

Climate-neutral steelmaking in Europe

Clean steel - infographic

Synopsis of RFCS Projects 2018-2021

Research Fund for Coal and Steel report

RFCS legal architecture

RFCS funded projects pre-2003

Steel and coal: A new perspective

European steel: The wind of change

The future of European steel

Smart steel

Contact

For general information about the programme, if you have questions or want to share your views please contact us at:
RTD-STEEL-COAL@ec.europa.eu

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