Triggering radical change in the way we buy, exchange or even value goods and services, the collaborative economy, the functional economy and the circular economy have had a considerable impact on businesses, consumers and workers. In its 2016 opinions on all three economic models, the EESC has recognised both the potential of these new models for Europe's sustainability as well as the uncharted legal territory they bring with them. Taking our work to the next level, we have joined forces with the Global Hub for the Common Good, to enrich the European debate with input from communities directly involved in these new economies.
How could the Digital Single Market benefit european consumers? This year's theme was a wide-ranging subject covering issues affecting consumers today in a very tangible way. The Committee has recently issued several Opinions and studies covering the digital transformation and how it impacts modes of production and consumption, and its work feeded into the discussions on many relevant topics, such as data sharing, digital inclusion and access to internet for all, artifical intelligence, digital contract rights, unnecessary geo-blocking, digital currencies and fintech, the sharing economy and the Collaborative economy.
The hallmark of a sustainable circular economy is a society that reduces its burden on nature by ensuring that resources remain in use for as long as possible. Once the maximum value has been extracted, resources can then be recovered and reused, remanufactured, or recycled to create new products.
In the context of the Slovak Presidency to the EU, the Employers' Group of the European Economic and Social Committee is organising a conference entitled "Sustainable Industry in the context of the Circular Economy". The event will take place on 13th September 2016 in Kosice, Slovakia. The participants of the discussion will elaborate on how the circular economy can support sustainable growth and the role of business in the transition to a more circular economy.
The functional economy focuses on the use of a product rather than its ownership. Specifically, with the functional economy model, a company sells the right to use a product of which it maintains ownership. The famous example is Michelin, which no longer sells tires for fleets of company cars, but supplies "mobility services" consisting of repairing, retreading and in some cases exchanging tires. The economic outcome is that the company has an interest in making its products last as long as possible because the price is based on usage (in this case, the number of kilometres driven) and thus in reducing waste.
The European Commission released in December 2015 the new version of the circular economy package. Its aim is to help the European economy move from linear to circular, more resource-efficient patterns, by ensuring that less resources are extracted from our natural environment and less waste is produced at the end of the product lifecycle. The package focuses on better design of products, improved waste management and recycling performance of EU Member States and the growth and job creation potential of the circular economy. It includes an Action Plan with a specific timeline up until 2017 on production aspects as well as a series of modifications to the waste legislation.
Conclusions of the 23rd edition of European Consumer Day 2022 - 17 November 2022
Position paper – May 2021
The European Commission has published a proposal for a new regulatory framework for batteries and waste batteries, aiming to establish minimum sustainability requirements for all batteries placed on the EU internal market. The EESC supports the proposed measures, however, it calls for more precise and workable governance instruments to implement the new regulation, with the involvement of all stakeholders.
The use of single-use plastics in packaging has grown significantly in the last decades, and with it, the pollution of our environment. There is an urgent need to improve the sustainability of our food systems, which includes also the development of more sustainable food packaging. The objective of this study is to identify and examine successful examples and approaches to food packaging in the EU and beyond, considering consumer safety, environmental, economic, social, legal and food waste reduction considerations.
Sustainable development with its economic, social and environmental dimensions is an inevitable approach to the future. Enterprises play a crucial role as generators of sustainable development. A favourable business environment is needed to meet the challenges and seize the opportunities of sustainability. This document summarises the views of the Employers' Group on sustainable development.