3.1. Operational objectives and targets

Promoting sustainable consumption and production by addressing social and economic development within the carrying capacity of ecosystems and decoupling economic growth from environmental degradation.

Improving the environmental and social performance for products and processes and encouraging their uptake by business and consumers.

Aiming to achieve by 2010 an EU average level of Green Public Procurement (GPP) equal to that currently achieved by the best performing Member States.

The EU should seek to increase its global market share in the field of environmental technologies and eco-innovations.

These again lead to defined actions. These actions should include:

  • The Commission and Member States will explore specific actions to bring about more sustainable consumption and production patterns at EU and global level, in particular through the UN Marrakech Process and the Commission for Sustainable Development. In this context the Commission will propose an EU Sustainable Consumption and production Action plan by 2007, which should help to identify and overcome barriers for SCP and to ensure better coherence between the different related policy areas and to raise awareness among citizens and change unsustainable consumption habits.
  • The Commission and the Member States should engage in a dialogue with business and
  • relevant stakeholders aiming at setting environmental and social performance targets for products and processes.
  • The Commission and Member States will develop a structured process to share best practice and expertise on GPP taking into account the potential to promote GPP at local and regional levels. The Commission will facilitate regular EU - wide benchmarking of GPP performance, according to an assessment methodology based on agreed and objective parameters, and examine with Member States how best to promote GPP for other major product groups by 2007.
  • The Commission and Member States will step up efforts to promote and disseminate social and eco - innovations and environmental technologies, inter alia through effective implementation of the Environmental Technologies Action Plan (ETAP) by all actors concerned in order to create new economic opportunities and new markets.
  • The Commission will propose extending performance labelling schemes from electrical appliances and cars to other groups of environmentally harmful products including products with high environmental impacts.
  • Member States should support information campaigns with retailers and other organisations to promote sustainable products inter alia products that stem from organic farming and fair trade as well as environmentally sound products.

Thus, a large area is circumscribed, in which the EU sees its range of activity for the next few years to decades. The respective Eurostat reports fulfill the function of the two-year monitoring, ie the control of progress in the sustainable development of production and consumption sector. Firstly, there is an overview of the main changes to the last level of two years ago. This is followed by the main statistical results, which are divided according to resource consumption and waste and consumption patterns. In resource consumption and waste are the breakdowns of domestic material consumption, non-mineralogical waste, hazardous waste, recycled and composted municipal waste and finally emissions into the atmosphere. Consumption patterns are distinguished by the number of households, household spending, their electricity consumption, the total energy consumption, the number of cars, environmental management systems, ecolabels, the area under agricultural environmental exposures, organic farming and the index for the density of livestock.

It is interesting to see what changes have actually occurred in consumption and production between 2000 and 2007. There are highly unfavorable and also very advantageous developments. Thus, the consumption of material and electricity is still growing as well as to hazardous waste. On the other hand, the total energy consumption and the amount of non-mineral waste in the EU have declined. And the proportion of waste recycled or composted has increased. In addition, there has been a substantial reduction in emissions / air pollution. Progress was also made in connection with production patterns with regard to the environmental dimension of CSR by companies and environmentally friendly agricultural practices:

Resource productivity: Despite an increasing trend in resource productivity (measured as GDP divided by domestic material consumption) in the EU between 2000 and 2007, resource use has been growing.

Domestic material consumption: Domestic material consumption per capita in the EU increased between 2000 and 2007. This unfavourable development was driven by increases in domestic extraction and imports stemming from a growing demand for minerals.

Non-mineral waste: Between 2004 and 2008 the amount of non-mineral waste per capita generated in EU decreased considerably.

Hazardous waste: Between 2004 and 2008 the amount of hazardous waste generated per capita in the EU rose considerably.

Recycled and composted municipal waste: The share of recycled and composted municipal waste increased considerably between 2000 and 2009 in the EU. Waste incineration also rose, but waste disposal through landfill declined substantially.

Atmospheric emissions: Between 2000 and 2008 emissions of air pollutants contributing to acidification, eutrophication and ground-level ozone fell considerably.

Consumption patterns: Number of people in households: During the period from 2005 to 2009 the average number of people per household decreased slightly in the EU, reflecting a trend towards more but smaller households.

Household expenditure: Between 2000 and 2007 household expenditure in the EU increased continuously, in particular for entertainment and housing and utilities. Due to the economic crisis household saving rates increased sharply, leading to a drop in expenditures from 2007 to 2009.

Electricity consumption of households: Between 2000 and 2009 electricity consumption by households increased considerably in the EU.

Final energy consumption: Between 2000 and 2009 final energy consumption decreased very moderately. It increased significantly between 2000 and 2004, then changes were limited until 2008 and finally a significant drop occurred in 2009.

Car ownership: Between 2000 and 2009 the number of passenger cars per 1 000 inhabitants in the EU increased significantly. The highest increases were documented in Eastern Europe and in the Baltic region.

Environmental management systems: Between 2003 and 2010, the number of organisations in the EU certified according to the Eco-Management and Audit Scheme increased substantially, mainly due to high growth rates in Southern European countries.

Ecolabels: Between 2000 and 2010 the number of ecolabel licenses in the EU was multiplied by a factor of more than 20.

Area under agri-environmental commitment: In 2009, almost one-quarter of the EU's total utilised agricultural area was enrolled in agri-environmental measures.

Organic farming: Between 2005 and 2009 the share of agricultural area occupied by organic farming in the EU increased considerably

Livestock density index: Between 2003 and 2007 the number of livestock units per hectare of utilised agricultural area decreased considerably in the EU.

These statistics should actually - after the above remarks on the broad concept of sustainability- be in the context belonging to a plethora of other objectives that go far beyond the realm of production and consumption and are not covered here. This includes, for example, quality of life, which is, however, extremely difficult to quantify.