Seminar report | Circular ambitions in the EU: What are the next steps?

Last Friday, our Embassy organized a seminar on this topic with the European Commission & Cradlenet. We talked about the highly ambitious circular targets of the Netherlands, discussed the first national circular roadmap created by Finland and listened to Sweden’s Minister for Financial Markets & Consumer Affairs, Per Bolund, who explained Sweden’s circular ambitions.

Governments and businesses need to work together
As governments cannot do this alone, it was promising to hear what the business sector could bring to the circular table. Representatives of AkzoNobel, Unilever, and Philips Lighting explained what they are already doing to become circular, which obstacles they currently meet, and how policymakers could help them to accelerate the transition.

Support from the EU
Jyrki Katainen, the European Commission’s Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, talked about how the EU is trying to accelerate this transition on a European level. His awareness of the necessity of circularity is promising, as well as some of the EU's recent initiatives to stimulate it. However, the focus still lies primarily on the final part of the value chain (i.e. recycling), instead of on circular design to prevent resources to become waste in the first place. Hopefully, this will change in the near future.

What's next
So what are three key takeaways from this seminar?

1. Cooperation Transitioning towards circularity only works when stakeholders cooperate. Companies, NGOs, governments and consumers must jointly work towards our circular goals.

2. Market-driven Circular Economy needs to be market-driven for it to work. Companies need to make a business case for circular efforts, realize its economic potential, and then act on it. Then these circular market trends will then indicate what kind of legislation form governments and the EU is necessary to remove obstacles for the companies to become circular.

3. Public procurement Shifting public tenders more towards circular initiatives is an effective tool to accelerate the transition towards a Circular Economy. Governments and other public institutions should make use of this tool more often.

In conclusion, this seminar showed that the EU's initiatives on Circular Economy are promising, but not enough. Countries like Sweden, Finland and the Netherlands should lead by example, and partner up to push circularity in the EU.

More information
Interested in more circular developments in Sweden and the Netherlands?
- Follow our Circular Economy community on LinkedIn

Questions about doing business in Sweden?
- Contact our Trade & Innovation team