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First meeting of new Italian Presidency of the European Union to discuss reinforcement of Green growth strategy

Meeting in Milan on Wednesday 16th July, EU Environment ministers will discuss how to reinforce Europe’s greening policies up until 2030. The current mid-term review of the Europe 2020 Strategy gives a unique possibility to integrate stronger environmental and economic objectives on resource efficiency. Environment Ministers are being asked to take the opportunity to link the ongoing mid-term review of the Europe 2020 Strategy with the 2014 Commission initiatives on the circular economy, waste policy and targets, green jobs, sustainable food, and sustainable buildings in order to boost the transition towards a green economy in the EU.   The Member States are also due to consider the Commission's recently proposed radical framework for energy and climate policies up to 2030 in October 2014.  Reinforcing the renewed green growth agenda is key. Moving towards to a circular economy where virtually nothing is wasted, industrial symbiosis is the norm and creating far more value from exiting resources is key, but a sea change to policy framework and in particular its implementation and monitoring are essential.

The recently published Commission Communication "Towards a circular economy: A zero waste programme for Europe" forms part of the circular economy package that seeks to:

  • boost recycling and preventing the loss of valuable materials;
  • create jobs and economic growth;
  • show how new business models, eco-design and industrial symbiosis can move us towards zero-waste;
  • reduce greenhouse emissions and environmental impacts.

Waste policy is essential to deliver a resource efficient, circular economy and the 2030 targets unveiled by the Commission on 2nd July will be a major talking point for Ministers in Milan this week.  


Meanwhile, the Commission Communication "Resource efficiency opportunities in the building sector" focuses on better information on environmental performance of buildings based on an EU framework with core indicators and increasing the use of recycled materials in the construction of buildings, by fostering a better functioning market for recycled construction and demolition waste. So far, only a limited number of Member States have addressed resource use beyond energy efficiency in the building sector and the initiatives at the national level so far are patchy.

In the Green Action Plan for SMEs the Commission has presented

a series of SME-oriented actions proposed at European level to help exploit the business opportunities that the transition to a green economy offers, by improving resource efficiency of European SMEs, supporting green entrepreneurship, exploiting the opportunities of greener value chains, and facilitating market access for green SMEs. International networking will be encouraged in order to better enable SMEs to enter fast growing green markets abroad.

The Green Employment Initiative of the Commission intends to enhance action in a number of domains, such as bridging the skills gaps; anticipating change, securing transitions and promoting mobility and supporting job creation. With many of these policy initiatives it is the inclusion of environmental priorities in the 2014-2020 European Funding programmes (New Cohesion Programmes, Rural Development Programmes, Maritime and Fisheries Fund Programmes, LIFE+, RTD, TENs, etc), which will make the difference in the coming years.


In addition, the Green Public Procurement (GPP) is an important part of the new Public Procurement regime to shift production and consumption patterns in the European Union and create jobs in environmental goods and service sectors. The Commission guidance on GPP has recently been updated and member states need to transpose the new rules by April 2016 – read the fact sheet;

Finally, Ministers will be called upon to consider a resource productivity indicator (as measured by GDP on Raw Material Consumption (RMC), which can bring all these elements together and focus attention and increased effort on developing policies that contribute to environmental and economic objectives at the same time. Such a development could boost GDP by nearly 1%, while creating over 2 million jobs more than in a business as usual scenario.

Whilst the EU is making good progress towards meeting its climate and energy targets for 2020, the integrated policy framework as described above to the year 2030 is essential for Member States to adopt a stable regulatory framework that provides certainty across all member states for investors. The Informal Environment Ministers meeting will discuss the 2030 climate and energy package and the Banki Moon Climate Summit on 23th September 14, before joining employment ministers for a joint session.

Stream video - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=URLP6a6a_wA

Issue 35