The adoption of the package concerning the Circular Economy (CE) by the European Commission (EC) in December 2015 was the beginning of the introduction of a new concept for economic growth. The transition to the CE requires the transformation of production and consumption patterns, value chains, and sectors. Investing in innovation is key to accelerating this transformation. Between 2016 and 2019, the EC has intensified its efforts to promote innovation and investments, the total amount of which has exceeded EUR 10 billion.
In March this year, the EC published a comprehensive report on the implementation of the Circular Economy Action Plan -Closing the Loop. It was considered to have been fully completed. But by then, Frans Timmermans had already said “much remains to be done to increase our prosperity within the limits of our planet, and to close the loop, so as not to waste our precious resources”. The CE has been recognised as an essential element in the path to an environmentally and economically sustainable EU economy.
As the future President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said in her political guidelines in July this year, “CE is key to the development of the future economic model of Europe” and clean technologies. The newEC has the ambition to make the EU a world leader in this field.
The President-elect announced that she would present the New Green Deal during the first 100 days of her term. CE 2.0 is to be one of its foundations. The ecological transformation and decarbonisation of energy-intensive industry sectors will be accompanied by the fight against single-use plastics, and the opening up of a new front in the fight against micro-plastics.
During his approval hearing, Frans Timmermans, one of the three future main Executive Vice-Presidents of the new EC, who will be responsible for the implementation of the New Green Deal, pointed out that the policies concerning the CE should be extended to, i.a., the construction sector. Virginijus Sinkevičius, who will oversee the CE-implementation agenda said he wants to “leadthe work on the new Circular Economy Action Planfor oceans without plastics - including micro-plastics - and ensure the full enforcement of plastics legislation.”
In October this year, the EU Council published its conclusions adopted in More circularity - Transition to a sustainable society. This document refers to a number of pieces of EU legislation which make up the CE package, and the UN Agenda 2030 on SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals). The EU Council has recommended the introduction of theCE 2.0 Strategy,whilerecognising the previous activities in the field of CE as a success.It pointed to the need for further activity, which should lead to a systemic transformation, so that the safe, sustainable and climate-neutral models of CE production and consumption will become competitive.
The Council called on the EC and the Member States to integrate the CE into all relevant policies and strategies and to make them the cornerstone of a long-term vision for the future of EU industry.It also stressed that exploiting the potential of the CE is essential to creating a well-functioning single market for high-quality, non-toxic, secondary raw materials. At the same time, the Council is encouraging investments in recycling infrastructure, including through the use of existing EU funds.
Through framework policies, financial instruments, and legislation, the EC plans toincrease the scale of activities at the EU level aimed at the complete closure of material and waste loops and building a competitive advantage which the CE is to bring to EU entrepreneurs.