Vice-President Katainen began by setting the circular economy in a wider context. ‘There are two economic mega -trends that will shape our economies over the coming years: artificial intelligence and circular economy.
Artificial intelligence will increase our productivity and have both positive and negative impacts on our society; the circular economy comes from environmental and economic pressure. The welfare society is dependent on added value, where circular economy comes into the picture - the less money we need to pay producers, the more we can keep for our own purposes.’
Thereafter he elaborated on topics such as the Plastic Strategy, Eco
design directive and the Energy label directive, before answering a number of in-depth questions from the public.
Amongst others, Anders Wijkman, former MEP and head of Swedish Recycling Industries, asked the VicePresident to elaborate further on design. According to him, this is an area in which the EU has been lacking until now.
Vice-President Katainen answered that there are two ways to tackle design. ‘The first way is legal obligations for producers: certain design criteria for selling products. The second way to address the issue is to ask EU's standardization body to set common stand
This is moving forward now and I believe it is the right way. It is not easy but it is doable: it is not rocket science to increase the demands on repairability and that the products must be disassemblable.
There is some resistance from industry, but the biggest advocate of the Eco-design directive was the industry – it changed the political mind of the Commission and some Member States.’
Two Sli.do questions; ‘In what way are you prepared to contribute to a more circular society?’ and ‘How can the EU best contribute to a sustainable economy?’ were put to the audience and were then used by the moderator and the Vice-President as starting points for further discussion.