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Expert Group "The economics of environment and resource use"

Mandate of the group

  • This group has been established to advise on:
  • the contribution that environmental policy can make to a better environment and green growth;
  • the optimal mix of policies to promote a better environment and green growth; and
  • how to better analyse the links between the economy and the environment and in particular resource efficiency.

The Expert Group operates as an independent advisory body to Commissioner Potočnik; all members take part on a personal basis.

Composition of the group

The list of experts for this group includes prominent economists from both EU Member States and countries outside the EU with a good mixture of academic fields and of practical experiences. It was established on the basis of their competence and the requirements of the topics to be addressed. Attention was paid to ensure a balance of the necessary competencies and to take into account different national contexts and experience.

Working methods

The group will have approximately three meetings a year with the presence and under the chairmanship of the Commissioner for parts of the meeting. It may also have some meetings in the absence of the Commissioner. The Commissioner appointed Paul Ekins as Vice-Chair of the group to lead discussions of the group in his absence and to organise the work of the group.

The three following approaches will be implemented:

  • Reactive comments and insights: Members of the group will be asked to provide comments and insights on new analysis that has been undertaken.
  • Proactive / long-term contributions: The group will identify some key issues on which it would like to concentrate its reflection and debate. The aim will be to deliver an opinion on these issues which could be instrumental in defining the future EU policy agenda in relation to a green economy. This could result in a public report from the group. 
  • Brief ad-hoc notes: Members of the group may send by email to the Commissioner and the other members short notes (1 or 2 page) with their personal opinion on emerging issues, new developments or topical subjects. Such notes could fuel some discussion at the meetings. A public presentation or publication of a set of such notes could be envisaged.

For approaches n°1 and n°2, members of the group will be asked to draft short (e.g. 1-2 pages, 500-750 words) written statements on the available evidence, the theoretical background and/or policy recommendations. These statements should be available and circulated two weeks before the meeting, allowing a rapporteur (selected from the group) to prepare a synthetic report or draft opinion which will be included with the final agenda sent out 3-5 days before the meeting.

During the meetings, experts will provide feedback on each other’s written contributions. There may also be brief interventions and feedback from the Commission. The aim will then be to find common ground on the evidence needed to formulate one or several policy recommendations. The assessment and policy recommendations are prepared by an appointed rapporteur (selected from the group) and are preferably backed by the entire Group.

Depending on the topic it may be necessary to go through several iterations before arriving at a policy advice. For example, following the first discussions on a topic it may be decided that one or more of the group members prepare a more in-depth study, in order to provide more clarity on an issue before coming to a policy advice. Additional background studies may also be obtained from DG ENV or some “third” party.

The final policy advice should be written in plain language to guarantee maximum impact. The policy advice may be backed up by longer reports and studies prepared by the Group, Group members, the Commission or third parties.

All the work including the policy advice should be rooted in theoretical and empirical evidence. The group’s advice does not necessarily have to deal with questions of political feasibility. Still the institutional reality needs to be taken into account and guidance concerning the path towards changing this reality should be an integral part of any policy advice. In particular short-term political constraints and long term institutional constraints need to be addressed – although they do not necessarily have to be taken for granted.

As far as possible, the Group’s policy advice and possible underlying studies should be made public. However, the Commission and the Group may decide together not to publish their advice or some underlying studies, in particular in cases where recommendations may be considered more effective when not made public or where the underlying studies contain confidential information. In other cases, however, the Commission and the Group may also decide to actively draw the attention to the policy advice and increase the visibility of the Group by giving out a press release or organize a press conference or other public event. The work of the Group should preferably be published on the Commission’s Europa website, with a disclaimer that the Commission is not accountable for its content. Group members should be free to use the content of their recommendations (when they are public) in their own public communications.

Tasks

Members of the group

Each member will contribute to the expert group work by:

  • providing 1-2 pages written contributions for the substantial discussion topics two weeks before the meeting;
  • actively participating in the meetings;
  • commenting, as appropriate, on the contributions of the other group members and actively contributing to the elaboration of the final policy advice;
  • acting as a rapporteur when the topic is in his or her area of expertise. The work of a rapporteur includes the preparation, based on the experts contributions, of a synthetic report before the meeting and writing the final policy advice after the meeting.

Vice-Chair

The Vice-Chair will organise the work of the group with the aim of maximizing its contribution, taking into account the expertise of the individual group members. This task will be done in close cooperation with the Commissioner and his services and will include among others the preparation of the agenda of each meeting (choice of the topics) and the designation of the rapporteurs.  He will also direct the meetings in the absence of the Commissioner.