Policy & legal framework

EU Bioeconomy strategy

Europe is setting course for a resource-efficient and sustainable economy. The goal is a more innovative and low-emissions economy, reconciling demands for sustainable agriculture and fisheries, food security, and the sustainable use of renewable biological resources for industrial purposes, while ensuring biodiversity and environmental protection.

To achieve this, on 13 February 2012, the European Commission adopted the strategy "Innovating for Sustainable Growth: A Bioeconomy for Europe". This strategy proposes a comprehensive approach to address the ecological, environmental, energy, food supply and natural resource challenges that Europe and indeed the world are facing already today.

The Bioeconomy Strategy and action plan focuses on three key aspects:

  • developing new technologies and processes for the bioeconomy;
  • developing markets and competitiveness in bioeconomy sectors;
  • pushing policymakers and stakeholders to work more closely together.

Moreover the Commission works on ensuring a coherent approach to the bioeconomy through different programmes and instruments including the Common Agricultural Policy, the Common Fisheries Policy, Horizon 2020, European environmental initiatives, the Blue Growth initiative for the marine sector and the European Innovation Partnership on Sustainable Agriculture.

BBI JU Historical background

Excerpts from Council Regulation (EU) No 560/2014 of 6 May 2014 establishing the Biobased Industries Joint Undertaking:

Commission Communication entitled ‘Europe 2020 A Strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth’ (the ‘Europe 2020 strategy’), endorsed by the European Parliament and the Council, emphasises the need to develop favourable conditions for investment in knowledge and innovation so as to achieve smart, sustainable and inclusive growth in the Union. 

The Bio-based Industries Consortium (BIC) developed a vision paper and a Strategic Innovation and Research Agenda, based on extensive consultation with public and private stakeholders. The Strategic Innovation and Research Agenda describes the main technological and innovation challenges that need to be overcome in order to develop sustainable and competitive bio-based industries in Europe and identifies research, demonstration and deployment activities to be carried out by a Joint Technology Initiative on Bio-based Industries (the ‘BBI Initiative’).

The Commission Communication of 13 February 2012 entitled ‘Innovating for Sustainable Growth: A Bioeconomy for Europe’, and in particular its Action Plan, calls for a publicprivate partnership to support the establishment of sustainable and competitive bio-based industries and value chains in Europe. In view of the move towards a post-petroleum society, the Communication aims to integrate better biomass producing and processing sectors in order to reconcile food security and natural resource scarcity and environmental objectives with the use of biomass for industrial and energy purposes.

The Commission Communication of 10 October 2012 entitled ‘A Stronger European Industry for Growth and Economic Recovery’ confirms the strategic importance of bio-based industries for the future competitiveness of Europe, as identified in the Commission Communication of 21 December 2007 entitled ‘A lead market initiative for Europe’, and stresses the need for the BBI Initiative.

Bio-based Industries and their value chains are facing complex and substantial technology and innovation challenges. As a nascent sector, bio-based industries have to overcome the dispersion of technical competences and the limited publicly-available data on real resource availability in order to build sustainable and competitive value chains. In order to tackle those challenges, critical mass has to be achieved in a focused and coherent way at European level in terms of scale of activity, excellence, and potential for innovation. 

The BBI Initiative should mitigate the different types of market failures that discourage private investment into pre-competitive research, demonstration and deployment activities for bio-based industries in Europe. In particular, it should ascertain the availability of reliable biomass supply taking into account other competing social and environmental demands, and support the development of advanced processing technologies, large scale demonstration activities and policy instruments, thus reducing the risk for private research and innovation investment in the development of sustainable and competitive bio-based products and biofuels.

The objective of the BBI Initiative is to implement a programme of research and innovation activities in Europe that will assess the availability of renewable biological resources that can be used for the production of bio-based materials, and on that basis support the establishment of sustainable bio-based value chains. Those activities should be carried out through collaboration between stakeholders along the entire bio-based value chains, including primary production and processing industries, consumer brands, SMEs, research and technology centres and universities.

The ambition and scope of the objectives of the BBI Initiative, the scale of the financial and technical resources that need to be mobilised, and the need to achieve the effective coordination and synergy of resources and funding, require the involvement of the Union. Therefore, a Joint Undertaking for the implementation of the Joint Technology Initiative on Bio-based Industries (the ‘BBI Joint Undertaking’) should be established as a legal entity.

The objective of the BBI Joint Undertaking should be achieved by means of supporting research and innovation activities by using resources from the public and private sectors. To this end, the BBI Joint Undertaking should organise calls for proposals for supporting research, demonstration and deployment activities.

To achieve maximum impact, the BBI Joint Undertaking should develop close synergies with other Union programmes in areas such as education, environment, competitiveness and SMEs, and with the Cohesion Policy funds and Rural Development Policy, which can specifically help to strengthen national and regional research and innovation capabilities in the context of smart specialisation strategies.

Horizon 2020 should contribute to the closing of the research and innovation divide within the Union by promoting synergies with the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF). Therefore, the BBI Joint Under taking should seek to develop close interactions with the ESIF, which can specifically help to strengthen local, regional and national research and innovation capabilities in the area of the BBI Joint Undertaking and underpin smart specialisation efforts.