“Don’t scrap Circular Economy Package,” green groups urge Brussels

Europe's transition to a circular economy is reportedly under threat with a number of suggestions that the European Commission's Circular Economy Package could be completely abolished.

The Package, which was launched earlier this year under the stewardship of former Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik, requires member states to recycle 70% of municipal waste and 80% of packaging waste by 2030. But it is currently being reviewed by the new President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, along with legislation that is still pending on air quality. 

According to reports coming out of Brussels, some business organisations may be successful in lobbying the EU to drop the Circular Economy Package entirely. It follows similar reports from the trade press just a few weeks’ ago.

A leaked draft of the 2015 Commission work programme seen by European Voice gave political justification for getting rid of the Circular Economy Package, with apparent claims that there is “no foreseeable agreement” between member states and MEPs. That draft may be altered before being approved during a meeting in Strasbourg next week. It will then be presented to the European Parliament on Wednesday, 17 December. 

Jobs and growth

Here in the UK, the resource and environmental management industry has been quick to respond, with industry figureheads uniting with the manufacturers’ organisation EEF, the Environmental Industries Commission (EIC) and Friends of the Earth (FoE) to urge the European Commission to keep the Package and realise its clear benefits.

In a joint statement, members of the Trade Association Group (TAG), EEF, EIC and FoE said: “It is with dismay that we learn of developments this week in which we understand that the EU Circular Economy package is to be axed by the European Commission from its 2015 Work Programme.

“Many industry stakeholders, including the undersigned, have expressed their support for the proposals whilst fully recognising that a full and reasoned debate is necessary on aspects of the package. There is a very broad consensus amongst industry groups and associations, major companies, NGOs and municipalities that the Circular Economy package offers huge potential for green job creation, resource security, environmental protection and economic growth.

“This broad consensus is echoed by industry associations in the UK, and we call today upon the UK Government to issue a clear and unequivocal statement of its position in relation to the proposed withdrawal of the Circular Economy package.”

Industry backlash

Friends of the Earth has also spoken out, with senior economics and resources campaigner David Powell claiming that industry lobbying on these crucial issues would be “shameful”.

“If the EU’s vision of a new Europe isn’t long-term, green and focused on wiping out waste, it’s not fit for purpose in the 21st century,” said Powell. “Mr Juncker must give the green light to desperately needed proposals which put people, the planet and our future economic health first – or face a backlash.”

Edie contacted the Representation of the European Commission in the UK, with a spokeseperson confirming that “President Juncker will set out the Commission’s work programme for new initiatives planned for 2015 and the withdrawal of pending proposals which do not have EU political support next Wednesday [17 December]”.

The spokesperson would not comment on whether or not the Circular Economy Package will be scrapped.

A letter to Defra Secretary of State Liz Truss expressing this concern and calling for her intervention has been sent by the TAG today (11 December). Edie has contacted Defra and is awaiting an official response. More to follow…

Luke Nicholls

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