| Environmental Technology Action Plan
On 28 January 2004, the European Commission's Directorate-General for Research, in cooperation with the Environment DG, adopted an Action Plan on Environmental Technologies,(1) with the aim to stimulate their development and uptake. The initiative, which is co-led by Commissioners Philippe Busquin (research) and Margot Wallström (environment), follows a request of the Gothenburg (Göteborg) European Council of June 2001.
Examples of environmental technologies range from recycling systems for waste water in industrial processes, to energy efficient car engines, to soil remediation techniques. They are basically any technology that, when compared to other similar technologies, does the same thing - but with less environmental impact. Many of these technologies have great potential to improve the environment, and, at the same time, contribute to economic growth and employment.
Out of the 11 priority actions identified in the Plan, three actions will be under the responsibility of the Research DG in cooperation with the other DGs involved in the Sixth Framework Programme:
Strengthening research on environmental technologies, supporting demonstration and replication of promising techniques, coordinating EC programmes in this field (2004-2005)
Establishing technology platforms for some promising technologies, so as to improve the coordination of research through private and public partnerships (2004-2007). The platforms currently decided are: Hydrogen and Fuel Cells (2004); Photovoltaics (2004); Water supply and sanitation technologies (2005)
Networking testing centres so as to validate the performance of new technologies in view of improving the confidence of purchasers (from 2004 on)
ETAP is on the Agenda of the Spring European Council in March 2004. The Heads of States and Governments should give the political impetus to its implementation.
The Commission will review the implementation of ETAP and report on it in 2006. It will also set up a European Panel on Environmental Technologies, where all relevant actors will exchange information, create synergies and help the Commission on ETAP. More information on this will appear here soon.
How the Plan was prepared
In March 2002, the Commission issued a Communication on "Environmental Technology for Sustainable Development" (2) which argued that environmental technology could contribute to sustainable development by boosting our economies and protecting our environment. However, at present market barriers and a number of other obstacles prevent them from realising their full potential.
The Commission therefore proposed to the Barcelona European Council that it develop with stakeholders an action plan to remove the institutional obstacles to the development, take-up and use of environmental technologies. The Barcelona European Council approved this proposal in March 2002, confirming the political importance of environmental technology.
In March 2003, the Commission issued a Communication on "Developing an action plan for environmental technology" (3) to follow up the commitments of the Barcelona Council and to present the process set up for consultation of stakeholders, as well as the first findings of the work. The Commission's Action Plan on Environmental Technologies includes a more comprehensive identification of promising technologies, barriers and action points. The responses of stakeholders to a number of questions in the March 2003 Communication have been taken into account in the preparation of the Action Plan.
The action plan includes:
a survey of some relevant (environmentally, economically and socially) promising technologies that could address some of the main environmental problems;
the identification, with stakeholders, of the market and institutional barriers that are holding back development and use of specific technologies;
the identification of a targeted package of measures to address these barriers, and building on existing instruments.
A web site (http://ec.europa.eu/environment/etap/) has been established to facilitate the follow-up of the whole process as well as the consultation with external stakeholders.
(1) COM (2004) 38 - available in 11 languages via the ETAP web site
(2) COM (2002) 122 - available in 11 languages via the web site on Developing the ETAP
(3) COM (2003) 131 - available in 11 languages via the web site on Developing the ETAP