In Europe we are in a privileged position when it comes to Circular Economy.

Helena Braun

Speech by Helena Braun, Member of Cabinet, Frans Timmermans’ team, European Commission.

2020 was supposed to be very important for climate action but unfortunately a lot of energy has gone into the pandemic  situation. Within the EU institutions, we decided to continue with the climate change agenda and our EU Green Deal will be the recovery policy of the crisis caused by COVID-19. Past September we announced more ambitious targets, together with our new biodiversity strategy plan for 2030. 

However, we cannot successfully tackle the climate and biodiversity situation without transforming the economy.  As we all know, half of the GHG and more than 90% of biodiversity losses come from resource extraction and processing. So that is why the Green Deal puts a lot of emphasis on resource use and circularity. 

This will definitely be a challenge but it will also be exciting and full of opportunities.

We adopted the new Circular Economy Plan just before the pandemic started and we understand very well that within Europe, we are in a privileged position compared to other parts of the world. We are not starting from scratch (our first plan was presented in 2015) but we build on top of what we already have in place.  With one big difference, however. In the past we focused on the aspect of waste and now the center of our attention is mainly on the design and production of circularity.

We want to change how products are made and consumed.

At the end of 2021 we will launch our flagship program; the European Sustainable Product Policy Framework, changing the currently existing EU eco-design directive. This means that we will promote products that are sustainable, reusable, reparable with more recycling possibilities and moving away from the destruction of durable goods. In the future, single use products will become a thing of the past.

Circular Economy means business; we see a lot of opportunities for sectors such as the ICT sector, construction, chemicals, textiles and many more. 

In addition to this new framework, we are supporting actions to empower consumers so that they would have better access to environmental information, product footprints and protection against greenwashing. 

Our aim is to really develop a market that is more sustainable while decreasing our dependence on raw materials. 

There is  a lot of work to be done and we cannot do it alone. That’s why we founded a ‘Global Circular Economy and Resource Efficiency Alliance’, composed of governments and supported by stakeholders who advocate for the transition on political level.

And we would be very pleased if Switzerland considered joining this global alliance that we plan to launch in February 2021. 

For us Circular Economy should be the economic model of the future, not only for the European Union but for the entire world and for the decades to come.