The outgoing European Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik has said the new European Commissioner under Jean-Claude Juncker needs to implement resource efficiency to drive economic growth.
Speaking at the Moving beyond GDP in European economic governance conference in Brussels, Janez Potočnik said that economic growth itself will not endure in the long term unless it is based on environmental and social sustainability from the beginning.
In a speech that clearly warned the incoming European Commission that unless the European economy is resource efficient, low-carbon and inclusive, it will find itself in much deeper trouble than before.
Janez Potočnik, while not directly mentioning the review of July’s Circular Economy Package that the incoming Commissioner Karmenu Vella has been ordered to undertake by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, made it clear that it would be a backwards-looking step if the resource efficiency agenda was dropped under the auspices of seeking policies for economic growth.
He said: “Having secured the inclusion of resource efficiency as a flagship of the Europe 2020 Strategy at the beginning of my mandate, I have worked ever since to integrate it across all relevant policy areas, and to put it at the heart of economic coordination process with Member States – the European Semester.
“This has moved environment policy into the centre of economic policy making. But without established and agreed top-level targets and indicators this process will be difficult to continue at both European and national levels.
“The challenge for the Juncker Commission will be to define the right growth path for Europe for the coming five years and beyond, beginning with the review of the Europe 2020 strategy.
“In order to give a clear and common overarching objective to all private and public sector actors, in order to ensure coordinated and appropriate action at national and European levels, in order to engage with the mainstream political debate, we need to have a clear and communicable target for resource efficiency within the Europe 2020 Strategy.
“And the Commission already proposed the best candidate for such a proxy target in July in the Circular Economy Package. We argued that resource productivity, measured on the basis of Raw Material Consumption to GDP is the missing link in our array of headline targets. But it will be for the next Commission to decide whether or not to incorporate this proposal – along with second-level emissions –into the Europe 2020 Review in May next year.”