The starting point of the updated strategy is that sustainability and circularity must be at the heart of the European bio-economy. This promotes the renewal of industry, the modernization of agriculture and the protection of the environment and biodiversity. The European Commission wants to tackle these challenges through concrete actions in three main areas:
- Strengthen and scale up biobased sectors and pay attention to unlocking investments and markets;
- Deploy local bio-economies throughout Europe;
- Respect the ecological limits of the bio-economy.
Action 1.1: accelerated development of the biobased industry
The modernization, strengthening and competitiveness of the European industry depends on an accelerated development and deployment of sustainable and circular bio-based solutions. This should lead to the development of a toolbox with solutions to process biomass into biobased products. The European Commission acknowledges the important role that the Bio-Based Industries Consortium has played in the development and deployment of new biobased value chains, based on the use of renewable resources, including waste.
Action 1.2: stimulating private investment
In addition to existing grants for research and innovation in the framework of the Horizon 2020 program, a specific financial instrument will be created: the € 100 million Circular Bioeconomy Thematic Investment Platform. It is a way to limit the risks for private investments in sustainable solutions. This is in line with current and future EU initiatives, such as the Capital Markets Union, the InvestEU program, the Common Agricultural Policy and the ETS Innovation Fund.
Action 1.3: an equal position of the biobased industry
The market and regulatory conditions for the biobased industry must be on an equal footing with that of the fossil-based industry. Bottlenecks, enablers and gaps in biobased innovations are identified. It also examines whether existing standards and labels are appropriate for the biobased industry. If necessary, new ones will be developed, especially for products based on biotechnology.
Action 1.4: ensuring reliable environmental performance information
In order to stimulate market introduction and consumer confidence, reliable environmental performance information on biobased products is indispensable. Standards need to be developed and promoted to help verify the properties of products as a basis for existing voluntary labels.
Action 1.5: 300 new biorefineries
The development of new sustainable biorefineries is made easier. It is estimated this will lead to about 300 new biorefineries across Europe.
Action 1.6: degradable plastics for keeping European waters plastic-free
The plastic value chain is being mobilized to develop biobased, recyclable and marine biodegradable substitutes for ‘fossil’ plastics. In this way, the bio-economy can make a valuable contribution to tackling plastic pollution in European seas, oceans and inland waters.
Action 2.1: Strategic Implementation Agenda
A Strategic Implementation Agenda is being developed that offers a long-term vision on ways to use and scale up the bio-economy in a sustainable and circular manner. This includes, for example, making food and agricultural systems future-proof, tackling food waste, nutrient recycling, aquaculture, stimulating biobased innovations to develop new chemicals, products, processes and value chains, new opportunities for forestry as a supplier of raw materials, better use of algae and other marine resources, and further integration of marine and land-based agriculture.
Action 2.2: Five pilots
In order to increase the coherence between the bio-economy policy and EU instruments aimed at regional development, five pilots are being developed:
- The Blue Bioeconomy pilot is linked to the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and focuses on tackling blue bio-economy in coastal areas and islands.
- A pilot aimed at better linking national strategies for the bio-economy and national strategic plans within the framework of the common agricultural policy.
- In the Urban bioeconomies pilot, 10 European cities will use organic waste as a resource for the production of biobased products. Special attention goes to the use of brownfields (depleted, unusable soil) and the application of circular bio-economic processes and technologies in urban areas.
- A pilot for carbon farming encourages Member States to set up a fund to support farmers and forest owners engaged in projects to reduce emissions in livestock farming and / or to increase carbon sequestration (the storage of carbon in the soil or in biomass through natural processes, such as the growth of forests).
- Various Living Labs will be set up to develop and test site-specific innovations, involving ecological approaches and circularity in primary production and food systems.
Action 2.3: supporting the policies of Member States
In order to ensure that all areas of the Union have the opportunity to develop their bio-economy potential, an EU facility will be set up to support the development of national / regional bio-economy strategies, also in remote areas and in candidate countries wishing to join to the EU.
Action 2.4: adapting education
New and emerging bio-economic approaches and new value chains require new skills (for example at the interface of agrology, biorefinery, ecology and other disciplines). To be able to respond quickly and flexibly, education needs to adapt.
Action 3.1: expanding knowledge
To broaden knowledge, more data is collected and analyzed, for example by means of artificial intelligence. This knowledge is made public through the Knowledge Center for bio-economy.
Action 3.2: setting up a monitoring system
The Commission will establish an EU-wide monitoring system that tracks progress towards a sustainable, circular bio-economy in Europe and provides an opportunity to support related policy areas.
Action 3.3: voluntary guidance
The acquired knowledge is used to provide voluntary guidance for the exploitation of the bio-economy, within safe ecological limits.
Action 3.4: supporting agro-ecology
The benefits of ecosystems with rich biodiversity will be better integrated in the primary production through a specific support of agro-ecology (sustainable agriculture based on ecological principles).
The European Commission indicates that these 14 actions will start by 2019 at the latest. The Commission will report regularly on the progress of the action plan. Agro&Chemistry continues to follow the developments.