The NAT Section will hold a debate on "Circular Economy Strategies and Roadmaps: Cooperation and Inclusion" at its meeting of 23rd May.
The transition to a Circular Economy is high on the EESC agenda as a solution to fight the climate crisis and protect our planet. It is a great opportunity for civil society as it can help to:
- increase the competitiveness of European industry;
- promote sustainable economic growth;
- generate new jobs.
The 'take-make-waste' model of production and consumption that still dominates our economy today is not only culminating in wasted resources, but also undermining the fight against climate change. Unlike the linear economy, a Circular Economy is a regenerative and restorative design that focuses on economic value creation and retention, tackling global environmental challenges such as climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution while yielding economic benefits.
The good news is that the circular transition is already happening on the ground. Stakeholders from civil society including businesses, trade unions, academia and knowledge communities, youth organisations as well as NGOs and other interest groups are creating and implementing many circular initiatives at local and regional level. Catalysing circular solutions and leadership from relevant stakeholders is Europe's best opportunity to accelerate the transition to a Circular Economy.
As such, the European Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform, a joint initiative of the EESC and the European Commission, is a platform established in 2017 to bring together the Circular Economy community in Europe. The stakeholder-driven platform supports Europe's transition towards a Circular Economy by fostering dialogue, sharing knowledge and exchanging best practices.
The European Commission and the European Economic and Social Committee will host the 2019 European Circular Economy Stakeholder Conference on March 6 and 7 in Brussels.
Day 1, to be hosted by the Europan Commission, will explore the action plan as a successful framework for the transition, while discussing policies to capitalise on the current global momentum. It will also widen the discussion to consider the circular economy as an enabler to achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.
Day 2 will be hosted by the EESC and is being prepared jointly with the Coordination Group members of the European Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform. This day will feature eight different participatory workshops, whose purpose is to share successes and identify new challenges.
To address planned obsolescence, protect consumers and boost the transition to a circular economy, in 2013 the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) called for a total ban on products with built-in defects designed to prematurely end a product's life. It recommended that better information to consumers on the lifespan of products should be established. On the basis of this opinion – the first European text on this topic – the European Parliament voted in July 2017 on a resolution for
a longer lifetime for products: benefits for consumers and companies.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is approaching its third year in the march towards realizing the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The High-level Political Forum session this year focused on the theme "Transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies". The European Economic and Social Committee was delighted to partner with several member states this year to co-host side events for knowledge exchange on important aspects that relate to the five environmental SDGs in focus at HLPF 2018.
As a follow-up to the Consumer Dialogues, "Les Assises des Consommateurs" (the 2018 Consumer Summit) showcased the results of this outreach and offered the opportunity for debate and conclusions.
Action on plastics was identified as a priority in the 2015 Circular Economy Action Plan, to help European businesses and consumers to use resources in a more sustainable way. The hearing will look into the strategy on plastics in a circular economy (including action on marine litter) proposed by the EC in the context of both the Communication on A European Strategy for Plastics in a Circular Economy (COM(2018) 28 final) and the proposal for a Directive on Port Reception Facilities (COM(2018) 33 final).
The 2nd annual conference of the European Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform took place on 20 and 21 February 2018. The first day was hosted by the Commission (DG GROW and DG ENV) in the Charlemagne building, the second day by the European Economic and Social Committee.
With a view to taking stock of the Action Plan's implementation, looking at next steps and discussing the goals and practicalities of a European Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform, the EESC and the European Commission co-organised a conference which took place on 9-10 March in Brussels.