Circular economy has been a priority for the European Commission, and it will continue to be high on the agenda of all the European Institutions and Member States for the coming mandate as well.
The Circular Economy Action Plan adopted in 2015 was a flagship project of the current European Commission. While taking stock of its achievements, the European Commission recently laid down its vision for the future of sustainability and circular economy in the EU. The Commission’s recent communications will heavily contribute to the European agenda for the next five years.
It is very clear that further to the need to deliver on the adopted legislation such as the Circular Economy Package, the European Commission will mainstream its activities on sustainability and circularity.
In its reflection paper on Sustainable Europe by 2030, the European Commission identifies the move from “linear to circular economy” as one of the policy foundations for a sustainable future. The European Commission believes that this requires thinking about circularity from the product design – to ensure possibility for repair and reuse – to collection and waste management. In its paper, the European Commission also highlights the need to integrate sustainable thinking in finance, pricing, taxation and competition to address social and environmental issues and trigger behavioral change throughout the economy.
The European Commission also recently adopted a comprehensive report on the implementation of the Circular Economy Action Plan, where it insists on the fact that new actions would be needed to ensure that the EU maintains its leadership in designing and producing circular products and services.
Questions of circularity and sustainability are also likely to spill over into other sectors, with the European Commission trying to adopt a holistic approach to climate change, mainstreaming circularity in various tools and policies. This would potentially translate into organizational changes within the new European Commission.
Member States have also expressed their common interest in pursuing the work on circular economy. While national governments are now implementing certain key EU legislation, such as the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive, the Council of the EU recently adopted its conclusions on an “EU industrial policy strategy: A vision for 2030“.
In these conclusions, the Council highlights that there are important challenges that need to be addressed in order to speed up Europe’s transition towards circularity. It also stresses the potential of new technologies to improve the economy’s circularity by promoting sustainable models of production based on primary and secondary raw materials and resource efficiency, in which products and materials are designed to be reused, re-manufactured and recycled, in order to be maintained in the economy for as long as possible.
It also underlines the importance of a fully-fledged, well-functioning and harmonized Single Market for secondary raw materials and circular products, cutting red-tape and legislative hurdles.