In March 2017, the European Commission and the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) launched a joint European Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform (ECESP). The platform’s 24-member coordination group has now been chosen and the list of participants published.
Globally, the volume of trade in the sharing economy is estimated at around EUR 17.8 billion, with rapid annual growth forecast until 2025. In response to a request from the Dutch presidency, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) has issued an opinion on the sharing economy and self-regulation which calls on the EU to “urgently define a clear and transparent legal framework within which these activities should be developed and implemented in the European area”.
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. Apart from its environmental and economic benefits, the circular economy also has social advantages, providing new jobs and new business models.
To mark the European Week of Waste Reduction, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) gave the initiative its full support and called for a cultural shift to reduce waste production in the EU. The EESC has undertaken a number of initiatives to reduce its own waste production and has addressed this topic in several opinions, as well as being a key partner in the European Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform.
The transport sector is vital to the EU’s efforts to reduce its carbon footprint and meet greenhouse gas emissions targets, which have been revised following the recent UN Climate Change Conference (COP 21). But transport is also fundamental for the EU's economy and people's welfare. The EESC is working to help Europe navigate towards a greener future.
The EESC Plenary today highlighted the importance of the collaborative economy and the functional economy as new business models for a more sustainable Europe. But it also called on the Commission to ensure that the collaborative economy does not increase job insecurity and the opportunity for tax avoidance. Nudge thinking is one way to achieve this. The Committee debated a number of key issues affecting Europe's future economic development with Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen.
EESC Consumer Day in Malta revealed the need for better regulation.
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.
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.