In spring 2010, following the review and evaluation of the 2004 Environmental Technologies Action Plan (ETAP) in 2009/2010, the European Competitiveness Council called for the elaboration of a follow-up to ETAP. On this basis, the European Commission drew up the Eco Innovation Action Plan (EcoAP), which was adopted on 16 December 2011. In its Conclusions of June 2012, the Council of the European Union (Environment) highlighted the EcoAP as an important tool for the transition to a green economy. In its report on a resource-efficient Europe, the European Parliament recognised it as a key element to boost research and technological innovation and thus speed up the transition to a resource-efficient economy. The three main European institutions have thus recognised and adopted the EcoAP.
The new Eco Innovation Action Plan builds upon the Environmental Technologies Action Plan, which used the potential of environmental technologies to contribute to competitiveness and growth.
EcoAP is part of the flagship initiative Innovation Union of the strategy Europe 2020. It expands the scope of ETAP beyond technology to include non-technological, for example system-related, organisational and politico-social innovations.
The main elements of the action plan are:
- demonstration projects and innovation partnerships to accompany technologies from basic research to market introduction
- improving market conditions through policies and legislation which advance swift development and market uptake
- opening up global markets, especially for innovative SMEs
- supporting the development of eco-innovation skills in the workforce and corresponding jobs
- improving steering schemes – enhanced interlinking of different areas of policy.
On 24 June 2012, a workshop of the federal/Länder network, initially established to implement the ETAP took place in the Federal Environment Ministry. The workshop aimed to:
- inform about the possibilities and opportunities offered by EcoAP
- point out options for financing eco innovations
- discuss the opportunities offered by the new action plan, in particular regarding resource efficiency and support for SMEs
- clarify whether a national roadmap would be helpful for implementing the action plan in Germany.
The participants of the workshop agreed to continue the network as EcoAP network and get actively involved in future steps to implement the Eco Innovation Action Plan.
In addition the action plan, the EU Commission also aims to introduce a European system to verify and certify eco innovations (Environmental Technology Verification – ETV) in order to establish an EU standard for environmentally responsible technology design and thus help implement the Europe 2020 strategy. The EU Commission has set up a steering group to accompany the introduction of this system. Germany participates in this group as an observer.
CIP Eco-Innovation Programme
The CIP Eco-Innovation Programme is part of the EU Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme for the funding period 2007 to 2013. It has earmarked funding of around 200 million euro for the period 2008 to 2013 to support first applications and the market introduction of innovative processes and products that reduce environmental pollution or contribute to more efficient use of natural resources.
From 2014, the CIP will be split into two parts in the framework of the EU's new finance plan. There will be one part geared towards innovation which will include the eco innovation programme and be part of the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation Horizon 2020. The second part will be continued as Programme for Competitiveness of enterprises and SMEs (CoSME) which is not expressly focussing on innovation but will address the specific obstacles to competitiveness of small enterprises.