3E Intelligence

The European Commission will prepare an action plan for a “sustainable industrial policy” by early 2008. This is one of the promises in the mid-term review of the EU’s industrial policy presented on 4 July.

This sustainable industry policy will be based on three basic principles:

Stimulate the development and commercialisation of low carbon and energy efficient technologies, products and services, for example by fostering lead markets and creating incentives for frontrunners. This may require appropriate financing instruments and the development of market-based instruments that encourage the uptake of environmentally friendlier products and services, including through a better internalisation of environmental costs, without prejudice to state aid rules.

Creation of a dynamic internal market: Under consideration of the ongoing review of the internal market legislation, the Commission will develop a strong product policy and remove obstacles in the internal market. This will include realistic and progressively more ambitious minimum requirements complemented with, where appropriate, voluntary “lead” standards and incentives, such as labelling, to drive performance upwards. An extended EuP Directive in order to promote “eco-design” of the most significant products will be the cornerstone of this approach. Environmental management schemes and energy services for firms and households will also be promoted, supported by a simple, user-friendly framework.

Creation of global markets for low carbon and energy efficient technologies, products and services: Faster uptake of environmental technologies and standards for more sustainable technologies, products and services in the EU can pave the way to the development of international standards which better integrate environmental aspects, taking a life-cycle approach. This can give European companies “first-mover” advantages in global competition. International sectoral agreements for energy intensive industries hold out a significant potential to set global benchmarks for energy and resource efficiency and foster technologies that are meeting these benchmarks. Such sectoral agreements, which must comply with competition rules and environmental objectives, should help create export markets for leading European technologies, services and products. They can be complemented through international or bilateral agreements on the diffusion and use of environmental technologies, by facilitating the use of the Kyoto flexible instruments and through trade and development policy.”

Comment: interesting, but is this enough for the “industry revolution” we need to adapt our economic activities to the double challenge of climate change and increasing supply-demand imbalances for energy and raw materials? One principle I miss in this list is the direct decoupling of economic growth and resource consumption.

Maybe enterprise commissioner Verheugen should make a study trip to China and learn a bit more about their plans for a “circular economy“?

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