European industry needs an environment conducive to innovative activity. We must strengthen investment in innovation and foster business dynamism. Investment is needed not only in scientific R&D but also in areas that are becoming key features of corporate success, such as design, software, data, firm-specific skills and marketing. These are some of the ideas that emerged from the conference on the Reindustrialisation of Europe: Food Manufacturing, Innovation and Circular Economy, which took place on 27 October in Milan. The event was hosted by the Employers' Group, together with Coldiretti and Confindustria.
Waning resources on the one side and growing mountains of waste on the other side are calling for a rethink of the way we live today, and, in particular the way how we manufacture, use, and deposit our products. We need to switch from a linear "extract-transform-use-throw-away" economy to a circular economy, i.e. an industrial economy which not only avoids waste and pollution but reuses, repairs, remanufactures and recycles. In its opinion on the "Circular Economy Package" ...
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.
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.
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 EESC has received a request from the incoming Dutch EU Presidency for an exploratory opinion on how to achieve more sustainable food systems in a resource-constrained world. In the past few years, civil society has been increasingly concerned about the environmental, economic and social impact of unsustainable food chains. Globally, about one-third of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted. Food is also one of the most important drivers of environmental pressures. The hearing will represent an opportunity to hear from experts and stakeholders about their views and initiatives for a transition to more sustainable food systems in Europe. The discussion will take a holistic and systemic approach by considering the environmental, economic and social dimensions of sustainability and the importance of cross-sectoral co-operation across the food supply chain.
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.