Communication updating the 2012 Bio-economy Strategy

EESC opinion: Communication updating the 2012 Bio-economy Strategy

Key points

  • There is a sense of global urgency: global challenges like climate change and worldwide population growth are forcing us as a matter of urgency to find substitutes for fossil fuels and to use bio-resources more efficiently. Agriculture and the forest-based sector are major producers of biomass for uses other than food or feed and as such are important contributors to the bioeconomy. New value chains offer additional opportunities for activities in the rural economy to shift from a fossil fuel-based to a bio-based economy.
  • Against this backdrop, better awareness of our consumption of bio-resources must be given priority in line with the climate objectives of the Paris Agreement. Beyond achieving better understanding, bioeconomy activities need to engage consumers through regular advice and information, so as to facilitate the necessary changes and pave the way for introducing market creation measures to further boost consumers’ trust and public procurers’ uptake of EU-produced bio-based products.
  • There are opportunities for biodiversity, industry, economic development and jobs. The EESC welcomes the update of the 2012 Bioeconomy Strategy which is an important step in the right direction. There is a global demand for sustainable, resource-efficient bio-based products. However, in spite of the significant progress made in the new version, some of the measures included still need to be put into practice:
  • set up individual, flexible consulting or advisory services
  • public-private cooperation should give due attention to primary producers. This model could be supported by a range of measures and instruments under the Common Agricultural Policy
  • incorporating research, innovation and bioeconomy activities into a long-term strategy will make it easier to support development and replication
  • continuing the education and training of workers and primary producers is crucial
  • promote the circular economy and inter-sectoral, territorial linkages in the EU and beyond
  • all Member States should mainstream a comprehensive bioeconomy strategy into their policies and programmes
  • the EU should strive for a global pricing system for carbon emissions.

Respecting sustainability principles is essential for a "new" bioeconomy, and natural resources have to be conserved in order to keep them productive. In this regard, the Bioeconomy must follow sustainability criteria. To avoid distortions to the disadvantage of the environment, economy and society, the same rules shall apply for biomass from the European Union and from abroad.