In October 2018, the European Commission launched the updated European Bio-economy Strategy. The purpose of this update to the 2012 Bio-economy Strategy was to address the challenges of living in a world of limited resources.
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The bioeconomy encompasses the production of renewable biological resources and their conversion into food, feed, bio-based products and bioenergy. This includes agriculture, forestry, fisheries, food, pulp and paper production, as well as parts of chemical, biotechnological and energy industries. For the purpose of this opinion, research on genomes, cell processes and bioinformatics is not specifically considered.
The Commission proposal is technically amending the existing Council Regulation (EU) No 560/2014 establishing the Bio-based Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI JU).
BBI JU is a body entrusted with the implementation of a public-private partnership whose members are the European Union represented by the Commission and the Bio-based Industries Consortium (BIC).
Due to difficulty of BIC to deliver its financial contribution as foreseen by the current Council Regulation, the European Commission proposes to adjust the initial text of the Council Regulation by introducing the possibility of delivering financial contributions at project level, in addition to the existent mode of delivery at programme level.
The objective of the Communication on the role of waste-to-energy in the circular economy is to ensure that the recovery of energy from waste in the EU is consistent with the objectives pursued in the Circular Economy Action Plan.
In September 2015 world leaders adopted the UN agenda Transforming our world: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, establishing a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet, ensure protection of human rights and guarantee prosperity for all. As an initial step the Commission is carrying out an internal "mapping" exercise in order to identify which existing EU policies already address the challenges set by the SDGs. The Commission has asked the Committee to contribute to that process with the present exploratory opinion.
The legislative proposal unveiled by the Commission in March 2016 on organic and waste-based fertilisers is part of the Circular Economy Action Plan published in December 2015. It aims at fostering resource efficiency in the sector of fertilising products, create new opportunities for businesses and farmers and improve the environmental performance of these substances
In the past few years, civil society has been increasingly concerned about the environmental and social impact of food production and consumption. At the request of the Dutch EU Presidency, the EESC is preparing an exploratory opinion on how to achieve sustainable food systems in a resource-constrained world. The opinion takes a holistic and comprehensive approach, looking at the interdependence of food production and consumption as well as fostering inter-sectoral cooperation.
The EESC fully backs the objective of switching to a greener, resource-efficient and circular economy. It is happy to see that the Commission has come forward with a broader set of proposals covering all the stages of the product lifecycle compared to the previous circular economy package; however, it raises concern over the lower level of ambition, which is likely to lead to lower economic and environmental benefits.