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Material use in the European Union: Towards a circular approach

11-09-2018

Global material use has tripled during the past four decades, in particular as a result of increasing living standards. The use of materials, which need to be extracted from our environment, can pose environmental challenges. It can also be threatened by resource scarcity and price volatility. This is particularly true for Europe, which is strongly dependent on imported materials. There are a number of ways to consider material use in the European Union (EU). The breakdown of material use by types ...

Global material use has tripled during the past four decades, in particular as a result of increasing living standards. The use of materials, which need to be extracted from our environment, can pose environmental challenges. It can also be threatened by resource scarcity and price volatility. This is particularly true for Europe, which is strongly dependent on imported materials. There are a number of ways to consider material use in the European Union (EU). The breakdown of material use by types of materials indicates that non-metallic minerals, which include sand and gravel, account for almost half of the materials used in the EU. Material flows provide an overall picture of how materials enter, are used and finally leave the economy. Some of these materials stay in stocks, which are growing year after year. However, the efficiency of material use, measured through resource productivity, has increased substantially since 2000, in part as a result of the economic crisis. Material use in the EU is steered by policies related to different areas such as energy, waste and industry. Relevant policy documents include the 2011 roadmap to a resource-efficient Europe, the 2013 seventh Environment Action Programme and the 2015 circular economy action plan. The EU supports these policies with funding. Funding channels include the Horizon 2020 framework programme for research and innovation, which allocated about €635 million between 2014 and 2020 for research on raw-material-related challenges. The European structural and investment funds also support developing more efficient material use practices. The European Parliament has advocated making the use of harmonised indicators for resource efficiency legally binding in the Member States and setting targets for increasing resource efficiency. Parliament has also supported broadening the scope of eco-design requirements to gradually include all relevant resource-efficiency features in product-design requirements.

Towards a circular economy-Waste management in the EU

25-09-2017

This STOA study explores waste management in the EU. Around one third of EU municipal waste was sent to landfill in 2012. To turn waste into a resource, waste management objectives must be aligned with the goals of a circular economy transition. This report highlights progress and challenges across Member States and in municipalities for (1) reducing waste, and (2) generating high-quality waste streams for re-use and recovery. It focuses on the current policy landscape, trends, and technologies for ...

This STOA study explores waste management in the EU. Around one third of EU municipal waste was sent to landfill in 2012. To turn waste into a resource, waste management objectives must be aligned with the goals of a circular economy transition. This report highlights progress and challenges across Member States and in municipalities for (1) reducing waste, and (2) generating high-quality waste streams for re-use and recovery. It focuses on the current policy landscape, trends, and technologies for the five waste streams identified in the European Commission´s Circular Economy Action Plan. Employment opportunities for the different steps of the waste hierarchy as well as future policy options are identified and discussed.

Externí autor

EPRS, DG

Global Trendometer: Essays on medium- and long-term global trends - Summer 2017

06-09-2017

With the publication of the "Global Trendometer" the EPRS Global Trends Unit seeks to contribute to the process of identifying and addressing medium- and long-term trends, and their possible implications for policy-making in the European Union. In this latest edition, three essays and seven two-page vignettes on different geopolitical, economic, technological and social issues paint a broad-ranging picture of some developments that may shape Europe’s future.

With the publication of the "Global Trendometer" the EPRS Global Trends Unit seeks to contribute to the process of identifying and addressing medium- and long-term trends, and their possible implications for policy-making in the European Union. In this latest edition, three essays and seven two-page vignettes on different geopolitical, economic, technological and social issues paint a broad-ranging picture of some developments that may shape Europe’s future.

Supporting the Market for Secondary Raw Materials in a Circular Economy

15-02-2017

This report summarises four presentations by experts and discussions which took place at the workshop ‘Supporting the market for Secondary raw Materials’ held on 31st January 2017 in the European Parliament in Brussels. The aim was to provide background information to the ENVI and ITRE Committees’ Members and contribute to their understanding of the role and opportunities for secondary raw materials as part of the implementation of the Circular Economy Action Plan, including the proposed waste legislation ...

This report summarises four presentations by experts and discussions which took place at the workshop ‘Supporting the market for Secondary raw Materials’ held on 31st January 2017 in the European Parliament in Brussels. The aim was to provide background information to the ENVI and ITRE Committees’ Members and contribute to their understanding of the role and opportunities for secondary raw materials as part of the implementation of the Circular Economy Action Plan, including the proposed waste legislation.

Externí autor

Schweitzer Jean-Pierre, Eliaerts, Sylvie, Gionfra Susanna, Jones Harvey, Nanni, Sylvia and Solovieva, Anna

Export Taxes and Other Restrictions on Raw Materials and their Limitation through Free Trade Agreements: Impact on Developing Countries

28-04-2016

Export taxes and restrictions take various forms and their effects may not be limited to the countries that apply them. Developing countries use such export taxes and restrictions in pursuit of development policy objectives. The effects on third countries depend on the market power of the country applying them and the nature of the restriction or tax. Large developing and emerging economies are the main users of these types of instruments, which are often used to counter the distortions due to tariff ...

Export taxes and restrictions take various forms and their effects may not be limited to the countries that apply them. Developing countries use such export taxes and restrictions in pursuit of development policy objectives. The effects on third countries depend on the market power of the country applying them and the nature of the restriction or tax. Large developing and emerging economies are the main users of these types of instruments, which are often used to counter the distortions due to tariff escalation. Multilateral trade rules do not forbid the use of export taxes, but they do apply to export restrictions. The treatment of these instruments in Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) negotiated by the EU varies, even between the different Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs). The EU should be flexible when it comes to the treatment of these instruments in trade agreements involving LDCs and small developing countries. In some cases, the EU should consider renegotiating existing agreements to remove strict prohibitions that can hamper development.

Externí autor

Maximiliano Mendez Parra (Overseas Development Institute), Samuel R. Schubert (Webster University) and Elina Brutschin (Webster University)

Closing the loop: New circular economy package

06-01-2016

Unlike the traditional linear economic model based on a 'take-make-consume-throw away' pattern, a circular economy is based on sharing, leasing, reuse, repair, refurbishment and recycling, in an (almost) closed loop, where products and the materials they contain are highly valued. In practice, it implies reducing waste to a minimum. Moving towards a more circular economy could deliver opportunities including reduced pressures on the environment; enhanced security of supply of raw materials; increased ...

Unlike the traditional linear economic model based on a 'take-make-consume-throw away' pattern, a circular economy is based on sharing, leasing, reuse, repair, refurbishment and recycling, in an (almost) closed loop, where products and the materials they contain are highly valued. In practice, it implies reducing waste to a minimum. Moving towards a more circular economy could deliver opportunities including reduced pressures on the environment; enhanced security of supply of raw materials; increased competitiveness; innovation; growth and jobs. However, the shift also poses challenges such as financing; key economic enablers; skills; consumer behaviour and business models; and multi-level governance. On 2 December 2015, the European Commission presented a new circular economy package. The package contains an action plan for the circular economy, mapping out a series of actions planned for the coming years, as well as four legislative proposals on waste, containing targets for landfill, reuse and recycling, to be met by 2030. The European Parliament advocates specific measures to improve waste management and to promote eco-innovation and resource efficiency. Stakeholders, however, voice diverging views on the proposed circular economy package. Please click here for the full publication in PDF format

New circular economy package

30-11-2015

A shift towards a circular economy could deliver environmental and economic benefits, but it would also face a number of barriers and challenges. The European Commission is expected to present new legislative proposals and an action plan on the circular economy at the December I plenary session.

A shift towards a circular economy could deliver environmental and economic benefits, but it would also face a number of barriers and challenges. The European Commission is expected to present new legislative proposals and an action plan on the circular economy at the December I plenary session.

Trade in Commodities, Obstacles to Trade and Illegal Trade

11-09-2015

Free trade in raw materials is of great importance for the EU. China remains the EU’s main supplier of critical raw materials and thus concentrates on the most recent evidence on its export restrictions. Despite recent WTO rulings, China is still implementing a wide range of trade distorting measures in the form of export licensing or through the introduction of a resource tax. While we can trace certain welfare benefits for the Chinese domestic market following the introduction of export restrictions ...

Free trade in raw materials is of great importance for the EU. China remains the EU’s main supplier of critical raw materials and thus concentrates on the most recent evidence on its export restrictions. Despite recent WTO rulings, China is still implementing a wide range of trade distorting measures in the form of export licensing or through the introduction of a resource tax. While we can trace certain welfare benefits for the Chinese domestic market following the introduction of export restrictions, we can clearly relate increasing illegal trade outflow from China to its restrictive trade policies. While the use of the WTO provides one of the most straightforward mediums to offset trade distortions, more effective measures include the addition of explicit clauses on critical raw materials in bilateral trade agreements and a strong regulatory framework in the member states prohibiting imports of conflict or illegal raw materials.

Moving towards a circular economy

29-06-2015

A shift towards a circular economy could deliver environmental and economic benefits. However, it faces a number of barriers and challenges. As the European Commission prepares its new proposal on the circular economy, due to be put forward by the end of 2015, Parliament is scheduled to vote on a strategic report on the topic during the July part-session.

A shift towards a circular economy could deliver environmental and economic benefits. However, it faces a number of barriers and challenges. As the European Commission prepares its new proposal on the circular economy, due to be put forward by the end of 2015, Parliament is scheduled to vote on a strategic report on the topic during the July part-session.

ENVI Relevant Legislative Areas of the EU-US Trade and Investment Partnership Negotiations (TTIP)

05-02-2015

In February 2013, the European Union (EU) and the United States of America (US) started the procedures necessary for initiating formal negotiations on a free trade agreement, referred to as the “Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership” (TTIP). The first round of negotiations took place in Washington D.C. in July 2013, the seventh round ended on 3 October 2014 and the eight round is taking place in Brussels from 2 to 6 February 2015. In order to monitor the on-going negotiations, the Committee ...

In February 2013, the European Union (EU) and the United States of America (US) started the procedures necessary for initiating formal negotiations on a free trade agreement, referred to as the “Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership” (TTIP). The first round of negotiations took place in Washington D.C. in July 2013, the seventh round ended on 3 October 2014 and the eight round is taking place in Brussels from 2 to 6 February 2015. In order to monitor the on-going negotiations, the Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) commissioned a study on "ENVI Relevant Legislative Areas of the EU-US Trade and Investment Partnership Negotiations (TTIP)". The study complemented a 2013 study on “Legal Implications of TTIP for the Acquis Communautaire in ENVI Relevant Sectors” for the ENVI Committee. This leaflet presents the key findings of the 2014 study.

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