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Resource inefficiency adding to EU’s economic woes

Europe – ‘Unless we transform the way we produce and consume, then we will find ourselves in much deeper economic trouble than we are in now,’ European commissioner Janez Potočnik stated at the recent European Environmental Bureau (EEB) annual conference. ‘Any future growth will depend on whether we integrate the environment into our economic policy,’ he said.

At the Brussels event, Potočnik revealed ongoing plans to promote a green economy in 2014, including a ‘fitness check’ on waste legislation to evaluate the actions and initiatives taken to date to achieve the milestones set in the Roadmap for Resource Efficiency. All sustainability factors will ‘feed into a coherent package’ on resource efficiency and the circular economy to be delivered before next summer, Potočnik added.

‘To tie all of these elements together in a coherent way, I plan to publish a communication to accompany this package,’ he explained. ‘This is not supposed to be a legacy document, so we do not intend to repeat what has already been said or has already been done.’

No ‘political will’

Potočnik cited Europe’s over-use of resources as a ‘fundamental part’ of its current economic problems. ‘There are significant and growing financial costs and security implications attached to our heavy dependence on imported resources,’ he said. ‘It is not lack of technological opportunity or potential instruments that prevent us from achieving substantial reductions in resource use. What is lacking, however, is the political will to put new, more stringent policies in place that will ensure delivery.’

EEB secretary general Jeremy Wates applauded this vision, saying it was ‘essential’ that the Commission came forward with proposals and delivered on the political rhetoric in the Europe 2020 Strategy. Cutting waste and investing in durable products would present ‘a win-win-win scenario for the economy, the environment and society at large’, he insisted.

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