Creating a world-leading bioeconomy in the European Union requires bold political moves. On the occasion of its launch at the European Parliament on 4 February, the European Bioeconomy Alliance (EBA) calls for more predictable policies leading to a long-term strategy for a competitive, dynamic and sustainable bioeconomy in Europe.
Developing the bioeconomy is only feasible if the European Union provides a holistic, coherent and harmonised framework in a range of policy fields: agriculture, forestry, marine, industrial, climate, environment, energy, research, innovation and regional development. The EU needs to act on the following four main fronts in particular, in order to help Europe become a leader in the bioeconomy:
1. Implement priority recommendations from the Lead Market Initiative1on bio-based products. This will not only create new markets and jobs but also stimulate economic recovery, focusing on: access to feedstock, research, development and innovation, access to markets, public procurement and communication.
2. Encourage member states to implement measures to i) increase agricultural and forestry productivity and soil fertility in a sustainable way and ii) facilitate mobilisation and access to renewable feedstock at competitive prices.
3. Address barriers to investment in first commercial operations, such as biorefineries in Europe. The Public Private Partnership on Bio-based Industries is a first step in the right direction and should facilitate and catalyse other European and national and regional financing sources.
4. Engage with civil society, together with farmers, forest owners and industry, to encourage the debate on shaping a more competitive, sustainable bioeconomy for Europe.
EBA’s vision is to help establish a more competitive, innovative, energy-secure and sustainable Europe, separating economic growth from a reliance on imported fossil sources, resource depletion, and environmental impact. EBA fully supports both the European Commission’s work on developing an EU bioeconomy as well as on-going efforts at member state and regional level to implement local strategies. In addition, EBA entirely supports the recent establishment of the European Parliament intergroup on “climate change, biodiversity and sustainable development” and its subgroup on the bioeconomy.
Over the next decades, the bioeconomy will play an increasingly important role in boosting Europe’s economy by revitalising rural and coastal areas and disused industrialised sites while providing more growth and jobs. According to the European Commission, the European bioeconomy is worth nearly €2 trillion and provides more than 22 million jobs to EU citizens2.
The bioeconomy is not a niche sector; it encompasses the sustainable production of renewable resources and their conversion into food, feed, fibres, materials, chemicals and bioenergy through efficient and/or innovative technologies, which provides widespread economic, environmental and societal benefits. Therefore, the EBA calls for the bioeconomy development to be set as a priority in the Commission’s new €315 billion investment plan as well as in national and regional measures, to help ensure Europe’s sustainable economic recovery.
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Note to the Editor
The EBA is an informal alliance of leading European organisations active in the bioeconomy. Its members are:
• BIC - Bio-based Industries Consortium
• CEFS - European Association of Sugar Producers
• CEPF - Confederation of European Forest Owners
• CEPI - Confederation of European Paper Industries
• COPA - COGECA - European Farmers and European agri-cooperatives
• ePURE - European Renewable Ethanol Producers Association
• EuropaBio - The European Association for Bioindustries
• EUBP - European Bioplastics
• FEDIOL - The EU Vegetable Oil & Proteinmeal Industry
• FTP - Forest-based Sector Technology Platform
• PFP - Primary Food Processors
• Starch Europe - European Starch Industry Association
1. Priority Recommendations from the Lead Market Initiative on bio-based products
2. Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions “Innovating for Sustainable Growth: A Bioeconomy for Europe”, 13 February 2012, COM(2012)60 final.