European Green Deal Empowers Citizens

The new European Green Deal, published at the end of 2019 by the European Commission, frames up ambitious targets for Europe and its citizens to become the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. The new growth strategy strives for a clean, circular and sustainable economy with growth decoupled from the use of resources. (European Commission 2020b)

Picture 1. The European Green Deal sets an ambitious roadmap towards a climate-neutral circular economy. (Photo: Pexels, CC0.)

On 11th March 2020, the Circular Economy (CE) Action Plan for a cleaner and more competitive Europe was adopted by the European Commission. The CE Action Plan is one of the key pillars of the European Green Deal. It includes green measures along with the entire product lifespan with the overall aim to protect the environment, reduce waste and deliver clean material loops. The new Plan mainstreams circularity in design, production, consumption and reuse by implementing the circular economy principles of keeping the resources in the system for as long as possible. The actions empower consumers and their rights for sustainable choices beneficial both for themselves and the environment, such as access to reliable information on product repairability and durability. For that, the Commission aims for having sustainable products as an EU norm. (European Commission 2020a)

Together with the Green Deal and CE Action Plan measures in place, the European Union’s GDP may increase by 0.5% by 2030 and almost 700,000 new jobs may be generated (European Commission 2020a, b).

Circular Economy and Citizens Involvement in Päijät-Häme

An Interreg Europe funded project CECI – Citizen Involvement in Circular Economy Implementation – focuses on emphasizing the role of every citizen in the CE. CECI desires to promote new sustainable services that extend product lifetime, such as reuse, repair, remanufacture as well as sharing economy. The CECI project welcomes the Green Deal as it directly addresses citizens and their rights for a clean environment, quality of life, as well as consumer rights.

On 8th April 2020, altogether 19 members of the CECI stakeholder group meet online. The local stakeholder group is represented by the Päijät-Häme Circular Economy Group. Circular economy is one of the smart specialization spearheads in the Päijät-Häme region, Finland. The group was honoured to have one of the Finnish Members of the European Parliament, Ms Sirpa Pietikäinen, joining the webmeeting. Ms Pietikäinen gave a brief introduction to the European Green Deal and one of its essential parts, the new EU Circular Economy Action Plan. She emphasized the Action Plan’s aim to use resources sustainably, and its focus to be set especially on resource-intensive fields, such as construction and building, and textiles.

Picture 2. CECI focuses on involving citizens in circular economy. (Photo: Marjut Villanen.)

The meeting agenda continued with CECI progress, identification of Good Practices as well as the introduction of the project thematic study related to the state of the art of circular economy and citizen engagement in all project partner regions from Finland, France, Czech Republic, Spain, Bulgaria, and Belgium. The importance of the stakeholder group on the project success was stressed especially while designing the regional Action Plan to boost citizens involvement in CE.   

Authors

Katerina Medkova works as an RDI specialist at LAB University of Applied Sciences and is the CECI Communication Manager

Johanna Snell works as a Project Coordinator at the Regional Council of Päijät-Häme in the CECI project.

References

European Commission. 2020a. Changing how we produce and consume: New Circular Economy Action Plan shows the way to a climate-neutral, competitive economy of empowered consumers. [Cited 17 May 2020]. Available at: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/IP_20_420

European Commission. 2020b. A European Green Deal. [Cited 17 May 2020]. Available at:  https://ec.europa.eu/info/strategy/priorities-2019-2024/european-green-deal_en

Links

Interreg Europe. 2020b. Project Summary. CECI. [Cited 17 May 2020]. Available at: https://www.interregeurope.eu/ceci/

Pictures

Picture 1. Felix Mittermeier: Worms Eyeview of Green Trees (2018). Pexels. [Cited 17 May 2020]. Available at: https://www.pexels.com/photo/worms-eyeview-of-green-trees-957024/

Picture 2. Marjut Villanen: CECI 1st Interregional Meeting in Lahti, Finland on 3.12.2019. [Cited 17 May 2020].

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