The main objective of the opinion is to develop the territorial pillar of the new Action Plan and define the opportunities and challenges facing the EU's local and regional authorities (LRAs) across the expected policy actions.
The opinion aims at highlighting the absolute need to enhance the LRAs' role in creating political mechanisms dedicated to circularity within the EU's regions.
The opinion will put forward policy recommendations for more ambitious political action and highlight the key contribution made by subnational governments to achieving current and future circular economy targets.
The CoR rapporteur has been invited for a short intervention at the meeting of the ENVI committee of the European Parliament during which the draft report on the New Circular Economy Action Plan was presented.
In its final resolution, the European Parliament has acknowledged "the important role that regional governments, local authorities and communities and SMEs play in the circular economy, in waste management and in the implementation of the measures included in the Circular Economy Action Plan" and called on "the Commission and Member States to support the establishment and cooperation of circularity hubs in all European regions, industrials clusters and local communities" (European Parliament resolution of 10 February 2021 on the New Circular Economy Action Plan).
The CoR rapporteur has been appointed as CoR representative within the Coordination Group of the European Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform (ECESP - https://circulareconomy.europa.eu/platform/).
The CoR is a support partner of The Circular Cities Declaration, a commitment document from cities and regions to use the levers at our disposal coherently across the organisation to transition from a linear to a circular economy (https://circularcitiesdeclaration.eu/).
THE EUROPEAN COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS
- stresses the urgent need to accelerate the transition towards a regenerative growth model, keeping resource consumption within planetary boundaries and reducing our footprint. For this it is imperative to decouple growth from resource use, to develop towards a true circular society and to cooperate at all levels of governance and society;
- emphasises that LRAs are a crucial player in the transition to the circular economy and that many competences of LRAs are related to resource management and the circular economy;
- insists that, to validate the principle "there is no waste" and to prevent the use of virgin resources, an obligation to use recycled materials is essential; urges the European Commission to set criteria whereby a substantial proportion of new products should be made of recycled material and recommends making this a part of the approach to key product value chains;
- takes the view that the reduction of CO2 along product life cycles should be part of the targets;
- calls on the European Commission to propose a target on absolute waste generation per capita and for waste prevention targets for businesses and industries;
- calls for further development of criteria and targets on the powerful instrument of circular public procurement;
- calls on the European Commission and the Member States to reduce dependency on third parties and virgin resources, strengthen security of supply by firmer organising – especially scarce and critical – resource management and develop an EU Resource Policy Platform;
- stresses that new measurements beyond GDP are required as well as transformative innovation on economic and legal mechanisms to favour true circular innovation, including social innovation, the development of education and skills, and creating true circular jobs;
calls on the European Commission, the Member States and LRAs to steer the investments from the EU recovery plan in such ways it guarantees long-term economic, social and environmental progress while reducing resource use, avoiding and removing hazardous substances and improving circularity of materials and systems.