Members of the SEDEC commission adopted by overwhelming majority the own-initiative opinion on the Local and regional dimension of bioeconomy and the role of regions and cities, by Katrin Budde, Member of the Landtag of Saxony-Anhalt (PES/Germany). This own-initiative opinion constitutes the CoR’s contribution to the review of the European Commission’s Bioeconomy Strategy and relevant action plan (dating from 2012), due in 2017.
"Knowledge-based bioeconomy can make an important contribution towards finding new approaches to safeguard the EU's sustainable growth, resource efficiency and competitiveness", underlined the rapporteur in her introductory speech, pointing to the potential of bioeconomy when it comes to fostering independence from fossil fuels and counteracting climate change by means of carbon neutrality. "Sustainably produced products and services making use of biological resources can reconcile economic growth and environmental protection", she said, reminding also the considerable potential of bioeconomy in the health sector.
The rapporteur therefore considers that expanding bioeconomy, particularly in rural areas of the EU, has great development potential in terms of growth and jobs. "This potential cannot be harnessed without close cooperation of all those involved on the ground in the regions and cities", she insisted in her presentation, calling also for a review of the existing legal framework governing the expansion of the bioeconomy, so as to remove any barriers to investment.
Katrin Budde calls for greater synergies between European, national and regional bioeconomy initiatives (including bioeconomy-focused RIS3), but also between different EU funds. The rapporteur underlines the importance of demand-oriented incentives for bio-based products in order to offset the competitive disadvantages caused by initial higher costs incurred during market roll-out. "Better funding options as well as sufficient risk capital and innovation funding must be made available to help develop market-viable solutions for serial production so as to reduce the particular economic risk for SMEs, especially in the commercialisation phase", she pointed out. The draft opinion also calls on EU Member States and regions to promulgate their own rules to favour bio-based materials in public procurement.
Last but not least, the draft opinion acknowledges the wide divergences in bioeconomy intake across the EU and stresses the need for changes in education systems to better respond to demand for bioeconomy related skills. The opinion is due for adoption by the plenary session of the CoR on 11-12 May.