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The Bioeconomy Directorate of DG Research and Innovation defines, implements, monitors and evaluates the EU Research and Innovation policy and initiatives to address Horizon 2020's societal challenge “Food security, sustainable agriculture and forestry, marine and maritime and inland water research and the Bioeconomy”.

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The Directorate's long term objective is to increase by 2020 the deployment of innovative solutions for a sustainable and globally competitive European Bioeconomy on land, sea and water.

The Directorate covers three main areas:

  • Bio-based products and processing

    Research and innovation in this area provide the means to reduce the Union's dependency on fossil fuels and contribute to meet its energy and climate change policy targets for 2020. Estimates conclude that a shift to biological raw materials and biological processing methods could save up to 2.5 billion tons of CO2 equivalents per year by 2030, increasing markets for bio-based raw materials and new consumer products several-fold.

    The key is to develop new bio-refining technologies to sustainably transform renewable natural resources into bio-based products, materials and fuels. This nascent sector is expected to grow rapidly and create new markets and jobs.

    To boost research and investment in this sector, the EU established under Horizon 2020 the Bio-Based Industries Joint Undertaking, a €3.7 billion Public-Private Partnership with the Bio-based Industries Consortium.

  • Agri-food chain:

    The Unit aims at enhancing the world-wide competitiveness and sustainability of the agriculture-food chain, ranging from sustainable land management including forestry, to primary food production and processing right up to the consumer and the related health aspects.

    It supports policies covering the largest part of the bioeconomy, from agriculture forestry and fisheries to global food security, food and feed safety, health and the environment, thereby ensuring coherence between research and innovation objectives and the relevant EU policy objectives.

    The policy outreach extends beyond the EU, for example into the Mediterranean region and Africa.

  • Marine Resources:
    The Unit supports the EU’s integrated Maritime Policy, in particular the Blue Growth Agenda, thereby contributing to the sustainable and responsible management of marine resources, both in Europe and globally. It contributes to and monitors specific initiatives such as the Baltic Sea research initiative (BONUS); it coordinates the Transatlantic Ocean Research Alliance and monitors the Joint Programming Initiative "Healthy Oceans".

In addition the Bioeconomy Directorate works closely with a large number of other Directorates-General of the European Commission. These are:

Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development (DG AGRI) in the fields of:

  • Organic farming
  • Quality products
  • Food and nutrition security
  • EU-Africa Research and Innovation partnership on food and nutrition security and sustainable agriculture
  • Sustainable forest management
Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development (DG AGRI) website

Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety (DG SANTE) in the fields of:

  • Plant health and plant protection
  • Animal health and welfare (including fish and seafood)
  • Food safety
  • Pesticides, potential sources of food contamination, endocrine disruptors
  • Sustainability
  • Novel foods
  • Nutrition, food composition and information and health determinants
  • Obesity
  • Cloning and food from cloned animals
  • Food waste
  • Active and healthy ageing
Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety (DG SANTE) website

Environment Directorate-General (DG ENV) in the fields of:

  • Soil protection
  • Water
  • Waste management
  • Use of plant and microbial genetic resources in agriculture and forestry and fostering functional biodiversity
  • Forest protection
  • Ecosystem services (e.g. MAES initiative)
  • Pesticides, food contamination and endocrine disruptors
Environment Directorate-General (DG ENV) in the fields of:

Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DG MARE) in the fields of:

  • Common Fisheries Policy (FCP)
  • Aquaculture – fish farming
  • Maritime policy including its environment pillar, the Marine Strategy framework directive
Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DG MARE) website.

Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (DG GROWTH) in the fields of:

  • (Eco-)innovation in the food industry, particularly SMEs
  • Practical industrial application of new technologies or research results and in development of industrially relevant technologies
  • Bio-based (land and sea) value chains
  • High Level Forum on the performance of the food supply chain
Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (DG GROWTH) website.

Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development (DG DEVCO) in the fields of:

  • Food and nutrition security
  • EU-Africa Research and Innovation partnership on food and nutrition security and sustainable agriculture
  • Coordination of EC and Member States on agricultural research for development (EIARD)
Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development (DG DEVCO) website.

Directorate-General for Communication Networks, Content and Technology (DG CNECT) in the fields of:

  • Technological advances in the area of food and agriculture
  • Data
Directorate-General for Communication Networks, Content and Technology (DG CNECT) website.

Joint Research Centre (JRC) in the fields of:

  • Soil research
  • Chemical and bio-monitoring data
  • Food research
  • The Bioeconomy Observatory
  • Food and nutrition security
Joint Research Centre (JRC) website.

European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in the fields of:

  • Food and feed safety
  • Potential risks occurring in the food chain
  • Animal health and welfare
  • Novel foods
  • Food ingredients and packaging
  • Contaminants
  • Plant health
  • Food research
European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) website.

Directorate-General for Climate Action (DG CLIMA) in the fields of:

  • Land based GHG mitigation (non-CO2 emissions from Agriculture and CO2 emissions from LULUCF sector)
  • Adaptation of agriculture and forestry to climate change
Directorate-General for Climate Action (DG CLIMA) website.

Directorate-General for Energy (DG ENER) in the fields of

  • Renewable energy (i.e. bioenergy) contribution to climate and energy policy frameworks
Directorate-General for Energy (DG ENER) website.

Past activities

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Bioeconomy conferences

Following the adoption of the European Commission's strategy "Innovating for Sustainable growth: a Bioeconomy for Europe", the Directorate-General for Research and Innovation organised a series of major conferences between 2012 and 2015.

These conferences are intended to engage stakeholders and the civil society and to promote public debates that keep the EU bioeconomy high on the political agenda.

  • Bioeconomy Stakeholders Conference “From sectors to system, from concept to reality”
  • 8-9 October 2014, Turin, Italy

    Hosted by the Italian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, in collaboration with the European Commission.

  • New skills for a European Bioeconomy
  • 20-21 November 2012, Brussels, Belgium

    The two day conference "New Skills for a European Bioeconomy" looked at the "skills gap" and proposed new solutions to develop a bioeconomy workforce.

    Read the report  PDF icon 322 KB

  • Partnering for the Bioeconomy in European Regions
  • 12 October 2012, Brussels, Belgium

    A one day debate on the role of the European Regions in the implementation of the bioeconomy.

    Check the final report  PDF icon 90 KB , and the programme of the conference  PDF icon 628 KB .

From KBBE to Bioeconomy

In 2004, the then Directorate General Research developed the concept of the Knowledge-based Bio-Economy (KBBE).

The idea behind it was that the European economy could not compete on a global level by delivering only basic agricultural commodities but needed to build on European strengths such as excellence in science, technology and industry to deliver innovation, world leadership in food and animal breeding technologies with a strong chemical and manufacturing industry base.

The KBBE was funded through FP6 and FP7 and has ever since evolved to keep pace with the many changes in economy, science, and technology and to try to respond to new global challenges we all face.

Under FP7, which run from 2007 to 2013, KBBE-related research was covered through the specific programme "Cooperation", which represented two thirds of the overall budget of the Funding Programme.

The launching of the Bioeconomy Strategy in 2012 was the concretization of all the work carried out at the Commission's Directorate-General for Research and Innovation for nearly a decade. The Bioeconomy became a policy in its own right involving other Directorate-Generals which reflects its own multidisciplinary approach.