Ambitious EU Council conclusions on the circular economy and natural capital

On the 20th of June the Environment Council, led by Dutch Minister for the Environment Ms Dijksma [photo], adopted ambitious Council conclusions on the circular economy and natural capital. These conclusions give a mandate and guidance to the Commission as regards to carrying out the ‘Closing the loop' circular economy action plan.

In these conclusions, the Member States urge the Commission to take concrete measures to ensure a longer life and circular design of products (through Ecodesign) and a ban on micro-plastics in cosmetics. Further attention and support is requested for market-based instruments, such as procurement policy, in order to further stimulate the circular economy.

The importance of natural capital in the circular economy

The principles of natural capital are not an integral part of the Commission's Action Plan. Consequently the Netherlands has attempted to clarify this missed opportunity and anchor the relationship between natural capital and the circular economy. This action led to paragraph 18 in the Council Conclusions which acknowledges the benefits and importance of natural capital. In this paragraph, the Member States stress the importance of monitoring and valuating of natural capital. The Commission is asked to promote nature-based and bio-based solutions, the use of sustainably sourced renewable materials and the resilience of ecosystems and their services.

Making ambitions real

During the next three years the Commission and Member States will commit to proper and swift implementation of the circular economy package. The Netherlands, as a leader in the field, is going to contribute actively to this implementation.

In addition, the Netherlands made good progress during the presidency with negotiations on the package of legislative proposals on waste. This laid the foundation for a Council position. Slovakia will continue to address this issue and has adopted it as a spearhead of their presidency.

Green deal ‘North Seas Resources Roundabout'

The Netherlands also signed the international green deal ‘North Seas Resources Roundabout' together with leading Member States and companies. This green deal will remove barriers in regulation, thereby making it easier to use and market secondary raw materials.

The presidency was fully utilized to position the Netherlands as a circular hotspot. Several European meetings were organised, such as the ‘Unwrapping the package' stakeholder conference, a meeting of high-ranking officials on circular shopping. There was a focus during various stages on natural capital, for example during a policy day on nature-based solutions and the conferences on Verified Conservation Areas and Natural Capital in the City.