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Using innovation

New, environmentally friendly technologies are needed, to play a growing part in the EU economy.

To protect the environment and make EU industry more competitive, we need technologies, processes and business models that use resources more efficiently. We call these solutions "eco-innovation".

The EU is aiming to transform Europe into a resource-efficient, low-carbon economy. Doing that will require fundamental changes in production and consumption to reduce pressure on the environment.

Eco-industries can help. They can prevent and correct environmental damage and solve problems like noise and damage to ecosystems. They make a vital contribution in sectors like waste and waste-water management, renewable energy sources, air pollution and sustainable construction.

Environmental technologies are an important part of the EU economy. They have an annual turnover of EUR 320 billion, and they have grown 8% per year since 2004. The EU has one third of the world market, which could double to more than EUR 2200 billion by 2020.

The European Union supports green technology and green products through a range of funding schemes and policies.

An Eco-innovation Action Plan targets drivers of eco-innovation and barriers to its uptake. It helps fund research and innovation projects and eco-innovative companies. The Competitiveness and Innovation Programme provides access to financing for small firms, facilitating research and innovation.

One of the problems facing new technologies is building credibility. An EU Environmental Technology Verification scheme, with a network of centres, should increase market confidence by validating the performance of eco-innovations.

Support is also available under the LIFE programme, for areas like tackling climate change, reducing waste and using natural resources more efficiently, preventing pollution, managing waste water, rivers, seas and coasts, and improving the urban environment. More than 1950 projects have been co-financed so far, representing an investment of EUR 3.6 billion, of which LIFE has contributed EUR 1.2 billion. There is a call for proposals every year.