About ETAP

The Environmental Technologies Action Plan (ETAP) is intended to make eco innovation an everyday reality throughout Europe. The plan was adopted by the Commission in 2004 to cover a wide range of activities promoting eco innovation and use of environmental technologies. Its objective is to improve European competitiveness in this area, and enable the EU to become the recognised world leader.

Promoting a sustainable future

Eco innovation is crucial to the economic competitiveness of Europe and our future well being. Eco-friendly technologies are good for business, reduce pressure on the environment and help create new jobs.

Such technologies are all those where their use is less environmentally harmful than relevant alternatives.
Examples include:

  • Renewable energy generation - such as photovoltaic or wind power
  • Cleaner cars
  • Passive houses or environmental friendly construction materials
  • Treatment of waste for re-use or recycling

ETAP aims to overcome the many barriers – such as the complexity of switching from traditional to new technologies and insufficient access to capital – that hinder the development of environmental technologies.

The plan complements the Environment Directorate-General’s regulatory approaches and directly addresses the three dimensions of the Lisbon strategy: growth, jobs and the environment.


Focusing on priority actions

Priority actions for ETAP involve getting environmental technologies from research to markets, improving market conditions and acting globally:

  • Increase and focus research by actions to attract more private and public investment in the development and demonstration of environmental technologies in line with the EU objective of 3% of GDP for research.
  • European Technology Platforms (ETPs) are specific public/private research partnerships that bring together interested stakeholders to build a long-term vision to develop and promote a specific technology or solve particular issues. Relevant ETPs include: hydrogen and fuel cells; photovoltaics; steel; construction ;and water supply and sanitation.


  • Environmental technology verification by establishing a mechanism to validate the performance of products objectively to increase purchasers’ confidence in new environmental technologies.
  • Performance targets that are long-term and visionary as well as perceived as being viable and realistic by many different stakeholders to encourage industry to develop and take up environmental technologies.
  • Mobilisation of financing ranging from classical loans through guarantee mechanisms to venture capital for environmental technologies. Current EU instruments include the R&D Framework Programme, Environment LIFE, Structural Funds, Cohesion Fund and the Competitiveness and Innovation Programme (CIP).
  • Market-based instruments providing targeted economic incentives to help promote the take-up
    of environmental technologies.
  • Green public procurement – taking a lead at EU level in offering a potentially powerful economic driver to further the uptake of environmental technologies.
  • Awareness raising and training to encourage the development and take-up of environmentally friendly technologies, particularly through training in industrial and business settings.
  • Supporting eco-technologies in developing countries, and promoting foreign investment to encourage sustainable development at the global level.


Co-operating with Member States and industry

The European Commission is co-operating closely with Member States and industry to make ETAP a reality.


National roadmaps

To foster experience sharing on eco-innovations and on best practices, EU Member States have formalised their national strategies and action plans towards environmental technologies. National roadmaps help focus on relevant plans, actions and achievements relevant to environmental technologies and eco innovations.


Supporting competitiveness and growth

The competitiveness of European companies and economic growth are driving forces behind the ETAP initiative. But the desire to convince companies to invest in research is equally strong. The promotion of environmental technologies and eco-innovation provides many benefits for business by fostering innovation, cutting production costs, creating jobs, reducing pressures on the environment and encouraging competitiveness.


Benefitting the European Research Area

ETAP actions are tightly linked to technological research and will benefit the European Research Area (ERA) through the creation of a network of technological centres able to validate and promote environmental technologies, definition of environmental standards, promotion of clean technologies in developing countries and widening the targeted distribution of information on environmental technologies.


Structuring support for action


A High Level Working Group (HLWG) – established in 2004 – facilitates implementation of ETAP all over Europe and steers co-operation between all participants. The HLWG consists of representatives from EU Member States and European Commission services. Open co-ordination with the Member States helps advance ETAP by exchanging ideas on best practices, developing indicators and setting guidelines and timetables.

Complete success depends on the participation of all stakeholders, requiring mobilisation of relevant business and finance players and technology developers working in the field. For this reason, the European Forum on Eco-Innovation organises regular meetings on specific topics.


Relevant players from business, finance, and technology development, as well as non-governmental organisations (NGOs), actively involved in eco-innovation and environmental technologies are invited to participate in the Forum. The Forum provides a platform for discussion, debate, and interaction. It fosters the mobilisation towards common objectives and concrete strategies for future action.

Exchange of experience and technologies is supported by this website – which includes news, reports on policy and a showcase of best practice at national level and over the whole gamut of technologies. It is supported by a regular newsletter and specific reports.