The European Commission has withdrawn its Circular Economy initiative from its 2015 work program, and will instead replace it with “a new, more ambitious proposal by end 2015.”
The Commission revealed the Circular Economy package, which launched in July, was one of 80 proposals it has axed from its 2015 program, with its work plans now focused on 23 initiatives.
The Circular Economy proposal had set European Union-wide targets to recycle 70 percent of municipal waste and 80 percent of packaging waste by 2030 and to work towards ending the landfilling of recyclable waste by 2025. A circular economy is based on resource efficiency and the Commission's ambition to keep materials in productive use for longer, which would also improve EU competitiveness by creating new technologies and jobs.
The reduced work program was announced to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, by Jean-Claude Juncker, who became president of the new Commission in November, and first vice-president Frans Timmermans, who has power of veto over proposals from the Commission's departments.
Juncker indicated the new Commission will prioritize “big economic and social challenges” and will not get bogged down in proposed legislation that EU citizens see as “interference where Member States are better equipped to give the right response. That is why we committed to driving change and to leading an EU that is bigger and more ambitious on big things, and smaller and more modest on small things.”
Timmermans said: “We need to clear the decks so political efforts are focused on the real priorities: we have looked through every pending proposal currently on the table of the EU institutions and decided whether we want to maintain, amend or withdraw them. We want results on the ground, so where it is clear existing proposals will not be agreed in a way that meets our objectives, we will propose alternative approaches. This way we will make sure that our Union focuses both on what truly matters and on delivering concrete results for citizens. This time things really are different."
Industry organization Plastics Recyclers Europe said it “regrets the delay.”
“Today is an unfortunate day for sustainable growth in Europe,” said PRE President Ton Emans in a written statement. “A direct implementation of the Circular Economy would have enabled the creation of 120,000 jobs only in plastics recycling.”
But despite the delay, Emans said PRE was looking forward to the “more ambitious” package indicated by the Commission.
“The Commission must keep its word to make this revised proposal in a speedy manner. As underlined in the Commission's Green paper on plastic waste, increased recycling in Europe will lead to a more sustainable and circular economy,” he said.
On the subject of environmental proposals, Timmermans said: "We want to achieve results. This Commission agrees that Europe needs to be ambitious, including on environmental and social standards. But it would be pointless to let the EU institutions waste time and energy on proposals which have no chance of being adopted – that will not deliver the results we want to see on the ground. So whenever that's the case we will think of other, more effective ways to achieve our common objectives.”