THE EUROPEAN Commission has published its vision of what a resource efficient Europe will look like: more environmental reporting and fewer resource-intensive products.
In a world with growing pressures on resources and the environment, the Commission called for the creation of better market conditions for products and services that have lower impacts across their life-cycles, and that are durable, repairable and recyclable. This would also mean progressively taking the worst performing products off the market.
In its new manifesto, the Commission also suggests that environmentally harmful subsidies and tax-breaks that waste public money on obsolete practices should be abolished, though taking care to address affordability for people whose incomes are hardest-pressed.
It also spotlights the behavioural changes required, calling on Europe to inspire sustainable life-styles by informing and incentivising consumers, and encouraging sustainable sourcing, new business models and the use of waste as raw materials.
There will also need to be clear signals to achieve a resource-efficient economy, with targets that give a clear direction and indicators to measure progress relating to the use of land, material, water and greenhouse gas emissions, as well as biodiversity.
There should also be more reporting on a wider range of environmental issues, the manifesto states: All organisations above a meaningful size and impact must be held accountable to measure and report key non-financial progress indicators on a comparable basis.
The Commission said that the European Union has no choice but to go for the transition to a resource-efficient and ultimately regenerative circular economy. Our future jobs and competitiveness, as a major importer of resources, are dependent on our ability to get more added value, and achieve overall decoupling, through a systemic change in the use and recovery of resources in the economy. According to the OECD [Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development], this could lead to steady economic growth with business opportunities across the whole economy.