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Procedure : 2012/2295(INI)
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PV 01/07/2013 - 23
CRE 01/07/2013 - 23

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PV 02/07/2013 - 9.15

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Tuesday, 2 July 2013 - Strasbourg Final edition
A bioeconomy for Europe

European Parliament resolution of 2 July 2013 on innovating for sustainable growth: a bioeconomy for Europe (2012/2295(INI))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission communication entitled ‘Innovating for Sustainable Growth: a Bioeconomy for Europe’ (COM(2012)0060),

–  having regard to the Commission communication entitled ‘EU 2020: a European strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth’ (COM(2010)2020),

–  having regard to its resolution of 24 May 2012 on a resource-efficient Europe(1) ,

–  having regard to the Commission communication entitled ‘Tackling the challenges in commodity markets and on raw materials’ (COM(2011)0025) and its resolution of 13 September 2011 concerning this communication(2) ,

–  having regard to the Council Conclusions from the United Kingdom Presidency in 2005 (‘The Knowledge-Based Bio-Economy in Europe’), from the German Presidency in 2007 (‘En route to the Knowledge Based Bio-Economy’) and from the Belgian Presidency in 2010 (‘The Knowledge Based Economy in Europe: achievements and challenges’),

–  having regard to Rule 48 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety and the opinions of the Committee on Development, the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy and the Committee on Regional Development (A7-0201/2013),

A.  whereas the world population is projected to increase from 7 billion to more than 9 billion in 2050, resulting in an estimated 70 % increase in the demand for food and putting strong pressure on water reserves;

B.  whereas the scarcity of natural reserves worldwide, the increasing pressure on renewable raw materials and the global effects of climate change require us to use resources efficiently;

C.  whereas a long-term, innovative and efficient approach will ensure not only greater sustainability but also support for rural and regional development, a potential reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, greater sustainability of the production cycle in addition to the spread of industrial innovation along the entire value chain;

D.  whereas the transition to a sustainable economy will strengthen the competitiveness of European industry and the agricultural sector, increase economic growth and thus promote a significant increase in European employment levels;

E.  whereas a successful bioeconomy for Europe depends on the availability of sustainably managed and sourced food stocks (from agriculture, forestry and biodegradable waste);

F.  whereas the EU bioeconomy has already a turnover of nearly EUR 2 trillion, and significant growth is expected from sustainable primary production, food processing, industrial biotechnology and biorefineries;

General comments

1.  Welcomes the Commission communication entitled ‘Innovating for Sustainable Growth: a Bioeconomy for Europe’ and the action plan for implementing the bioeconomy strategy set out therein;

2.  Considers that the bioeconomy makes it possible to produce industrial and consumer commodities at lower costs, using less energy and creating less environmental pollution;

3.  Shares the view that the transition to a smart, sustainable and inclusive bioeconomy should be based not only on the production of renewable natural resources with a low environmental impact, but also on a sustainable use of those resources from an environmental, economic and social point of view, maintaining the use of biotic resources within the boundaries of ecosystem renewal;

4.  Underlines the urgency of taking action now to support innovation and investment in new techniques and business models and to create the incentives that will bring long-term benefits for the economy; emphasises the key role of the private sector in delivering sustainable economic growth;

5.  Is of the view that the bioeconomy is a prerequisite for achieving the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy and, more specifically, of the initiatives ‘The Innovation Union’ and ‘A resource-efficient Europe’;

6.  Welcomes the Commission’s support for a radical change in the EU’s approach to the production, consumption, processing, storage, recycling and disposal of biological resources;

7.  Points out that while 22 million people are already employed in the bioeconomy, accounting for 9 % of total employment in the EU, it has a strong potential to employ millions more;

8.  Supports the Commission’s proposal to create a task force and roadmap on bioindustries, in which to highlight the contribution made by renewable resources and biotechnology to sustainable development and to encourage regions and operators to develop new innovations for the bioeconomy sector;

9.  Calls on the Member States to develop national and regional bioeconomy action plans, and requests the Commission to present a bi-annual report to Parliament with regard to the implementation of a bioeconomy;

10.  Emphasises that the EU is a global leader in various fields of bioscience and biotechnologies; takes the view that the transition to a bioeconomy will enable Europe to take some major steps forward in terms of the low-carbon economy, innovation and competitiveness and will enhance its role on the international scene;

11.  Underlines the importance and huge potential of resource and energy efficiency; stresses the need to ‘produce more with less’ so that the bioeconomy remains sustainable;

12.  Takes the view that a bioeconomy for Europe should not merely substitute the current fossil-based economy or repeat current wasteful behaviour and consumption patterns but should evolve into a more efficient and sustainable model taking into account social and environmental stewardship throughout all bioeconomy-based value chains;

13.  Welcomes the on-going revision of the Union’s biofuel legislation in order to mitigate the negative effects of indirect land-use change (ILUC), and to promote the market for, and development of, more advanced biofuels that should allow greater use to be made of non-food raw materials such as waste, residues and ligno-cellulosic and cellulosic materials;

14.  Recalls that ILUC factors for biofuels and bioliquids, as well as binding sustainability criteria for the use of solid and gaseous biomass, should be included in the Renewable Energy Directive and the Fuel Quality Directive; calls on the Commission to propose a Biomass Framework Directive covering all applications of biomass (energy, fuels, materials and chemicals) and introducing a biomass hierarchy;

Investment in research, innovation and skills

15.  Encourages the Commission to continue its research and development coordination efforts across the borders of the Member States and across the various sectors, and highlights in particular the need for research into the assessment of sustainability boundaries of biotic resources, taking into account ecosystem functions and natural food chains as well as human food demand;

16.  Calls for more detailed research to establish the social and environmental opportunities, as well as the potential costs of the bioeconomy, given the diverse potential impacts and possible wrong methods of exploiting the bioeconomy, in terms of the use of scarce natural resources, the risk of damage to the environment and of biodiversity loss and the opportunity for conservation;

17.  Supports the establishment of a Bioeconomy Panel of experts to help enhance synergies and coherence between policies and initiatives, and a Bioeconomy Observatory, in order to promote mutual learning, by securing a continuous exchange of knowledge and information between research institutes, companies, institutions, universities, regional operators, farmers and citizens in rural areas, and hasten the development of a legal framework to increase and facilitate research, its applications and the commercialisation of innovations;

18.  Recalls the importance of the application of the precautionary principal in the use of biotechnologies, especially in the areas of genetically manipulated organisms and synthetic biology;

19.  Believes that multidisciplinary and cross-sectoral information and training programmes need to be established so that the findings of research are made accessible to stakeholders, including consumers, creating opportunities to increase awareness and involvement;

20.  Calls for the elimination of existing obstacles to innovation along the value chain, notably by rapid and science-based EU approval procedures for biotechnological products and much faster market access;

21.  Calls on the Commission to propose practical measures of regionally comprehensive scope to promote the production and consumption of bioeconomy products at regional level;

22.  Stresses that the bioeconomy requires that new skills, new knowledge and new disciplines be developed and/or integrated further in order to tackle bioeconomy-related societal changes, promote competitiveness, growth and job creation, meet the needs of industry and ensure that skills and jobs are better matched;

23.  Stresses that the bioeconomy needs first-rate know-how and a skilled workforce; maintains that it is necessary to provide for vocational training and higher education needs in the regions of the European Union, taking into account the regions’ specific characteristics; points out that wide-ranging education and training systems in the regions also foster business expansion;

24.  Welcomes the EUR 4,5 billion budget proposed by the Commission in its Framework Programme for Research (Horizon 2020) and hopes that this budget will be made available to all sectors and instruments of the bioeconomy and for the purpose of further refining innovations, including research on the ecosystem boundaries, reuse and recycling of biomaterials;

25.  Is of the view that biorefineries based on local sustainable biomaterial that does not displace food or other more valuable uses are a key tool for implementing virtuous processes of conversion of disused plants and for revitalising crisis-stricken areas through innovative processes and investment towards a circular economy, and hopes that this role will continue to be encouraged;

26.  Emphasises that sufficient quantities of sustainable raw materials are needed for the successful operation of biorefineries in Europe; points out that this will also require improving infrastructures for storage and transport and developing the necessary logistics;

27.  Points out that there are only a limited number of demonstration facilities in Europe and that increased investments are needed in order to maintain the leading role of European industries in the sector of biorefineries; calls on the Commission and the Member States to support pilot and demonstration activities for the up-scaling of products and processes;

28.  Emphasises that bioeconomy policies must be better designed to ensure a cascading use of biomass; calls, in this respect, for the development of a legal instrument that will pave the way for a more efficient and sustainable use of this precious resource; stresses that such an instrument should establish a cascading use principle in the ‘pyramid of biomass’, taking into account its different segments and strengthening it at its highest levels; points out that such an approach would lead to a hierarchical, smart and efficient use of biomass, to value-adding applications and to supporting measures such as coordination of research along the whole value chain;

Reinforced policy interaction and stakeholder engagement

29.  Considers it necessary to ensure an integrated, coherent, cross-sectoral and interdisciplinary approach to bioeconomy, and calls for the harmonisation of the different EU policies involved and the related guiding principles – such as the precautionary principle – in the various sectors (the Resource Efficiency roadmap; the Innovation Union; the Raw Materials Initiative; Horizon 2020; the Environment Action Programme 2020; the Cohesion, Common Agricultural and Common Fisheries policies; the Renewable Energies, Water Framework, Waste Framework and Packaging directives; and specific measures on biowaste); considers it necessary, as well, to establish a uniform, long-term, stable, regulatory environment, both at EU-level and nationally, aiming at promoting and increasing investments for the bioeconomy in Europe;

30.  Calls on the Commission to make provisions for financial instruments to support pre-commercial investments, turn research findings into commercial successes and enable innovative companies, especially SMEs, to find financial and other support instruments encouraging the development of the bioeconomy, for example through the use of Regional and Structural Funds and European Investment Bank risk sharing facilities, through increased coherence between different EU research and innovation funds, and through the establishment of a one-stop shop for information about all bio-based economy related initiatives, with a view to achieving the greatest possible impact; acknowledges the difficulty, and the financial risks, associated with commercialising bioeconomy innovations and placing them on the market;

31.  Calls for the development of industrial infrastructure and optimised supply chains for bio-based products in rural and coastal areas with a view to creating new jobs in agriculture, forestry and aquaculture; calls for EU rural development funding to be made available for this purpose, and for this to be done in such a way as to reduce, rather than increase, damage to the environment and biodiversity loss;

32.  Calls for targeted and specific action to reduce the complexity and duration of the bureaucratic authorisation procedures that complicate biorefinery development processes and are likely to encourage the transfer of innovative, cutting-edge technologies outside the EU;

33.  Approves the use of the public-private partnership (PPP) formula, drawing adequate lessons from the problems that emerged in previous applications of the same formula to other sectors; calls on the Commission to allocate adequate resources for development and growth of such partnerships, in the belief that this is a key method for enabling new value chains to be created, enhancing existing chains and facilitating investment in technologies and prototypes that can transfer research findings to the market;

34.  Agrees with the need for a multi-level approach, and calls for increasing attention to be paid to the regional and local dimension of the bioeconomy and to bottom-up initiatives; welcomes the establishment, at regional, national and EU levels, of bioeconomy platforms that are able to measure the progress made in a given sector and enable an exchange of know-how and best practices to take place, with a view to ensuring that the bioeconomy develops evenly throughout the EU; calls on the Commission also to involve experts in the sector and in all the subject areas concerned, in addition to representatives of consumers and citizens; points out that regional economies have a central role to play in achieving smart, sustainable and inclusive growth;

35.  Believes that bottom-up initiatives are important in creating a bio-based society and that a business- and demand-driven approach, combined with a government-driven approach, is crucial; considers that adequate possibilities should be provided for regional initiatives; calls on the Commission to support such networks and clusters with a view to promoting the exchange of experiences.

Enhancement of markets and competitiveness

36.  Calls on the Commission to focus financial support on innovation in line with the Innovation Union, including the Horizon 2020 priorities, stimulating research findings to prepare for marketing, bridging the so-called ‘valley of death’ of research in Europe;

37.  Takes the view that there are a number of excellent tools (public procurement, standardisation, tax incentives, certification systems and specific labelling) that could secure a sufficient supply of sustainable and high-quality bio-based products as well as provide resource-efficient production systems; believes that reform of the current legislation is required; calls on the Commission to develop sustainability criteria for the use of biomass on which also market-creating tools should be based;

38.  Stresses that a bio-based economy that relies on exploitation of biological resources instead of fossil energy must be guided by a sound political framework that takes into account not only economic viability but also social and ecological sustainability factors;

39.  Is of the opinion that it is vital to involve and inform consumers on the choice of bio-based products and services; hopes, in this regard that such products will become standardised based on sufficient sustainability criteria in the EU, considering that this would be a tool for promoting a profitable European market in these products;

40.  Believes that the lifespan of the bio-based product may not be artificially shortened; the product should be constructed for the longest possible life-time;

41.  Underlines that the bioeconomy will make a significant contribution to the development of rural and coastal areas; takes the view that synergy and close cooperation along the value chain, including local producers of agricultural and forestry raw materials and biorefineries, would help strengthen the competitiveness and increase the profitability of rural regions; stresses the need to develop a long-term bioeconomy strategy, taking due account of the need to ensure food security;

42.  Requires that the biological and biotechnological processes that are developed can be used in bio-based renewable resources from waste and non-food crops and also as components in existing agricultural and forest-based businesses;

43.  Maintains that one of the bioeconomy’s guiding principles is to enhance resource efficiency and reduce dependence on imported raw materials, energy and non-renewable natural resources; points to the importance of the forest sector and other bio-based industries, and maintains that carbon-neutral renewable natural resources and raw materials, such as wood and wood fibre, can replace non-renewable fossil raw materials; points out that the bioeconomy industry produces many high added-value products, such as chemicals, medicines, plastics and other innovative new materials and that it creates jobs; highlights the potential of biotechnologies based on marine resources;

44.  Calls on the Commission to promote measures to increase feedstock potentials in a sustainable manner, better mobilise such feedstocks, collect biodegradable waste – avoiding extensive transportation – and ensure that biomass use remains within ecological boundaries and does not reduce the carbon sink function; considers it urgent, in this context, to establish sustainability criteria for biomass energy use in order to ensure the availability of biomass for more resource-efficient purposes, preventing incentives for the transformation of biomass into energy from creating market distortions and reducing its availability for producers;

45.  Considers it important to invest in bioeconomy supply chains so as to guarantee the availability of raw materials; maintains that bioeconomy strategies should encourage not only more efficient use of household and municipal waste, but also the recovery of agricultural and forestry by-product streams and residues; calls for better and enabling legislation providing legal certainty and strong support for sustainable use of bioeconomy resources and exploitation of raw materials, and for policy to be based, in every respect, on a flexible, long-term approach that promotes investments;

46.  Considers that, in keeping with the guidelines of the new European industrial policy strategy, the bioeconomy can make an important contribution to combating the process of de-industrialisation that is currently afflicting Europe, and can help reverse it by means of new strategies to stimulate the market and restore the competitiveness of the regional system;

47.  Strongly urges the Commission to define environmentally harmful subsidies as ‘a result of a government action that confers an advantage on consumers or producers, in order to supplement their income or lower their costs, but in doing so, discriminates against sound environmental practices’(3) ; calls on the Commission and Member States to adopt, without delay and by 2014, concrete plans, based on this definition, for progressively phasing out all environmentally harmful subsidies by 2020, including subsidies which incentivise inefficient use of renewable resources and subsidies on fossil fuels, and to report on progress through the National Reform Programmes; in this context, is concerned that subsidies for the use of biomaterials for energy are already undermining resource efficiency objectives;

48.  Notes with concern that rising demand for biomass, particularly wood, may spark widespread deforestation in developing countries, where greenhouse gas emissions are not accounted for under the Kyoto Protocol; points out that while this can impact on soil quality, water cycles and biodiversity, it increases strain on global agreements such as the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD) and the UN Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (REDD); fears equally that, considering that land governance systems are weak in many developing countries, rising demand for wood products may trigger off illegal logging and in return weaken voluntary partnership agreements under the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan;

49.  Underlines that the transition to a bioeconomy will contribute to further integration of the Rio+20 outcomes into EU policies; believes that the EU should further intensify its contribution to initiatives that facilitate the transition towards an inclusive green economy at international level;

50.  Calls for the EU to become an international research and innovation powerhouse in the area of bio-economy research; states that new products, processes and services based on renewable resources will enhance the competitiveness of European industry and make it an international front runner;

51.  Deems it crucial to develop international legally binding sustainability standards for all sectors of biomass usage, as well as binding sustainable forest management criteria; urges the EU to pursue the adoption of multilateral agreements and provide, especially for LDCs, related institutional and technical support for ensuring the sustainable use of biomass.

52.  Takes the view that the bioeconomy model that is developed within this strategy will solve the contingent critical issues and, in the longer term, may initiate patterns of production, consumption, development and lifestyles that are more sustainable and effective, by reactivating the process of European growth as a result of a new synthesis between the economy, the environment and social quality;

o   o

53.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission.

(1) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2012)0223.
(2) OJ C 51 E, 22.2.2013, p. 21.
(3)1 Adapted from OECD (1998 and 2005) in IEEP et al. 2007, see

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