|September 20, 2007|
The European Environmental Technologies Action Plan
|Eco-industries represent 2.1% of the EU's GDP, and the industry provides over 3.5 million full-time jobs. From 2003 to 2006, clean technologies represented €2 billion of investments, or 10% of the EU's total venture capital. The market is estimated to be worth over €1 trillion worldwide. In order to increase EU demand for environmental technologies and support the growth of the industry, the EU developed ETAP. Environmental technologies are defined as "technologies whose use is less environmentally harmful than relevant alternatives." The Commission first began discussions on the topic of environmental technologies in 2001, and in 2002 the Commission produced a report outlining the environmental technologies market and the barriers to the market's development. |
A 2003 Communication from the Commission and four stakeholder groups that discussed environmental technologies were the basis for the 2004 formation of ETAP. ETAP was formed as a way to reduce pressure on natural resources, improve the quality of life for European citizens, and stimulate economic growth by improving the environment. In 2000 the European Council developed the Lisbon Strategy (the meeting had taken place in Lisbon), which has the stated goals of making the EU the "most competitive economy in the world" and achieving full employment by 2010. ETAP was developed as part of the Lisbon Strategy; as such it is also supposed to contribute to economic competitiveness and growth. More specifically, ETAP is working to promote eco-innovation and the take-up of environmental technologies. The Plan's main objectives include:
ETAP sets forward nine specific actions to direct EU and Member State actions in the topic of environmental technologies (see below), and it called for the publication of National Roadmaps in 2005, which summarized some of the actions put into place in each member nation. These Roadmaps foster experience sharing on eco-innovations and good practices, by allowing countries to share their experiences with other Member States. The Commission monitors the implementation of the plan and reports to the European Council and the Parliament every two years (the last report was in May 2007).
ETAP's nine actions are part of three separate axes. These actions serve to direct the actions of EU bodies, member states and private players in the eco-tech and environmental innovation markets. The first set of actions focus on making the transition from research to markets by increasing and focusing research, establishing technology platforms and networks for technology testing. The second axis looks at improving market conditions by setting performance targets, leveraging investment, creating incentives and removing economic barriers, promoting environmental techniques via public procurement. Finally, the Plan focuses on actions that directly affect countries outside of the EU, encouraging the stakeholders to act globally by promoting environmental technologies in developing countries and promoting responsible foreign investment.
What follows is a list of the actions that make up each of these axes.
Transition from Research to Markets:
European Eco-Innovation Forum
The European Eco-Innovation Forum is part of ETAP that aims to bring together and increase the mobilization of relevant stakeholders from business, finance, and technology. The Forum explores strategic orientations for the future development of ETAP, emphasizing the business orientation. The Forum meets in Brussels once a year and then holds another yearly meeting in a different European city. The meetings focus on a theme of strategic importance to the development of ETAP. Some examples of themes are: "Financing Eco-Innovation" (Poznan, November 2006), "Markets for Sustainable Construction" (Brussels, June 2007), and "Boosting Eco-Technologies through Verification" (Paris, November 2007). The forum provides suggestions for future action aimed at business and finance, as well as National and European policy makers. Final reports and presentations from the conferences are available online through the specific conference's website (links available on the Forum website).
ETAP has had great influence on the way the EU has developed its policies regarding eco-tech and environmental innovation. Under the FP6 research program, €1.4 billion were put into environmental technology projects. The Commission adopted the Green Paper on market-based instruments in March of 2007 in order to advance the discussion about using market-based instruments as policy tools in the EU. The Commission also published a Handbook on Green Procurement to serve as a guide to EU bodies and member states. The EU has pushed for global financing for environmental technology programs through mechanisms such as the Thematic Program on Environment and sustainable management of Natural Resources (funding for environment in development cooperation) and the Global Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Fund (GEEREF--- to mobilize private investment in projects in developing countries).
Finally, the objectives and priorities of ETAP were very influential in determining research themes for the 2007-2013 funding period in the EU.
In its 2007 review of ETAP, the European Commission made the following recommendations for future action:
Excerpts from European Union: Environmental Technologies Action Plan (ETAP) US Commercial Service, 2007