The need to deliver growth and jobs while doing more with less resources means that Europe has to make the most of its competitive advantages by exploiting the potential of its environmental goods and services industries (turnover of more than €300bn and providing nearly 3.5 million jobs) and helping all of industry to become more sustainable.
In that context, the Europe 2020 Flagship Industrial Policy Communication was published on 28 October 2010. It notably sets out a new framework to promote the modernisation of Europe’s industrial base and the transition to a low carbon resource efficient economy; mobilises the full range of EU and Member State policies to ensure that the EU remains an attractive place for business investment and job creation – not least in the green economy; outlines a more focused industrial innovation policy to promote the wide deployment of new key enabling and environmental technologies and addresses access to essential raw materials.
The global market for environmental protection also represents a big opportunity for European firms. This calls for a twin-track approach to encouraging sustainable growth across all industry sectors while taking initiatives to help the environmental goods and services sector. To help bring about a more competitive and more environmentally sound industry, we also need to move beyond consideration of products and traditional services and look more into innovative ways of organising production modes, cooperation and partnerships between businesses (e.g. green business models, industrial symbiosis).
The Sustainable Industry Forum offers an opportunity to bring together industries operating in all industrial sectors, to share best practice and discuss policy issues, to understand how best the European Commission can support a shift to sustainable business practices.
We would also like to draw your attention to a recent "Study on the competitiveness of European Companies and Resource Efficiency" [1 MB] and the "Brochure on Sustainable Industry: Going for Growth and Resource Efficiency [2 MB] ".
This short Brochure presents a synthesis of two recent research studies carried out for DG Enterprise & Industry that provide insights on the overall environmental performance of European industry in recent years and highlight the potential for further improvement. It illustrates, for example, that significant decoupling of economic growth and environmental impact has already been achieved and is continuing and that industrial energy use has remained broadly stable during a period of significant economic growth (see figure 5 on page 14). This translates into an industrial energy intensity improvement of more than 20% since 1995 (figure 6, page 16). Industrial greenhouse gas emissions and waste generation are also much reduced (figures 8 & 11 respectively); while some progress has been made in materials productivity (figure 10).