The European Parliament‘s environment committee backed a proposed resource efficiency roadmap for Europe, marking an important step in EU policymakers’ efforts to decouple natural resource use from economic growth.
Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy, the Dutch Liberal MEP who drafted the report, received support from his colleagues on most points but some of his “innovative” ideas were deleted from the text in an effort to find a compromise.
In order to jump-start the “urgent” move towards a circular economy, the resolution called for a major overhaul of the “secondary-material market,” an expression referring to recycled materials such as plastics, metals or paper.
“In a few decades we’ll need 70% more food production. We’ll have 3 billion more people at middle class income with consumption of middle class income. So the problem that we’re facing with the scarcity of resources is huge,” Gerbrandy said.
Another way to stimulate the markets to trade secondary materials initially proposed by Gerbrandy was by reducing VAT rates for these products by 2013.
In a subheading called “transforming the economy”, Gerbrandy’s draft resolution urged member states to shift the taxation burden from labour to natural resources with the objective of reaching an average of more than 10% of public revenue by 2020.
The 10% rate was dropped in the compromise text published on 25 April, but the Parliament nevertheless voted a text urging member states to shift taxes.
As resource use in Europe exceeds local availability, Europe’s dependence on and competition for resources from elsewhere in the world raises questions about security in the supply of resources for Europe in the long term, and carries a potential for future conflicts,” the report continues.