The European Commission has launched a very important flagship initiative on resource efficiency under the Europe 2020 Strategy. The Commission believes that increasing resource efficiency will be key to securing growth and jobs for Europe. It will bring major economic opportunities, improve productivity, drive down costs and boost competitiveness.
The most important medium-term policy measures are:
• An energy efficiency plan with a time horizon of 2020 which will identify measures to achieve energy savings of 20% across all sectors, and which will be followed by legislation to ensure energy efficiency and savings;
• Proposals to reform the Common Agricultural Policy, the Common Fisheries Policy, Cohesion Policy, energy infrastructure and trans-European networks for transport in the context of the next EU budget to align these areas with the requirements of a resource-efficient, low-carbon economy;
• A new EU biodiversity strategy for 2020 to halt further loss to and restore biodiversity and ecosystem services in the light of pressures on ecosystems;
• Measures to tackle the challenges in commodity markets and on raw materials which will, amongst others, periodically assess critical raw materials and define a trade policy to ensure sustainable supplies of raw materials from global markets. These measures will promote extraction, recycling, research, innovation and substitution inside the EU;
• A strategy to make the EU a ‘circular economy’, based on a recycling society with the aim of reducing waste generation and using waste as a resource;
• Early action on adaptation to climate change to minimise threats to ecosystems and human health, support economic development and help adjust our infrastructures to cope with unavoidable climate change;
• A water policy that makes water saving measures and increasing water efficiency a priority, in order to ensure that water is available in sufficient quantities, is of appropriate quality, is used sustainably and with minimum resource input, and is ultimately returned to the environment with acceptable quality.