After the horse meat scandal, mad cow disease, swine flu and E.Coli cases in cucumbers, the question remains: is food safety chimera or reality in Europe? On 21 June 2013, Vilnius brought together decision makers, experts, consumers and representatives from the food and agriculture sector to analyse the state of food-related issues and propose solutions to current problems.
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In the context of the UN 2030 Agenda, the European Economic and Social Committee will hold a public debate where we will explore how the EESC has worked towards implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in practice – both with civil society, and within the Committee itself.
For the first time, UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner paid visit to the EESC, the institutional representation of organised civil society in the EU institutional set-up.
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.
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 EESC organized a public hearing on collaborative or participative consumption on 25 September 2013. The aim of this hearing was to gather stakeholders active in the field of collaborative or participative consumption and enable them to present their observations, concerns and expectations related to this phenomenon. Those contributions will feed the EESC's opinion on this topic which is currently under preparation.
Transition to a circular economy is a must if we are to protect our planet, but also if we are to increase the competitiveness of European industry. This is a long-term process that will require numerous initiatives at European, national and regional level. Companies see the circular economy as an opportunity. "Going green" is beneficial not only for the environment, but also for businesses, providing real savings in terms of raw materials, water and energy.
On 13 and 14 February 2014, over 150 civil society representatives gathered at the EESC to discuss their positions on a global Post-2015 framework for sustainable development. Participants from local, regional and national authorities, EU and UN level policy-makers, social partners, environment, development, human rights, agriculture and consumer organisations; industry, business and academia brought a wealth of perspectives into the debate.