Welcome to Publyon’s monthly Sustainability Newsletter. This month we discuss the impact of the EU 2024 elections on business and the exciting opportunities that derive from it. Additionally, we delve into sustainable trade practices and examine the EU Nature Restoration Law. Towards the end of the newsletter, we are delighted to share some recommended readings, upcoming events, and opportunities to connect with our team at Brussels events.
Leveraging Change: Opportunities for businesses amidst the EU 2024 elections preparations
As the EU braces itself for the upcoming 2024 elections, a critical juncture emerges for the bloc’s sustainability aspirations. The Green Deal, the EU’s ambitious blueprint to achieve climate neutrality by 2050, is already facing serious head wind from Member States. The outcome of these elections thus carries great importance, as it will shape the trajectory of the EU’s sustainability agenda.
The forthcoming EU elections, and their subsequent outcomes, hinge upon multiple factors, chief among them being the level of public concern regarding sustainability. The 2021 Eurobarometer data indicates that a staggering 75% of EU citizens consider climate change a grave threat. Moreover, a significant majority of 60% view that the EU’s current efforts in combating this threat are inadequate. These statistics portend the potential for voters to elect parties that champion robust climate action.
If you are interested to know more about EU elections, Publyon’s Managing Partner Viktoria Vajnai gives a detailed overview of the current scenario, looking at which way the EU elections wind is blowing.
Businesses operating within the EU must remain aware of the potential ramifications that the 2024 EU elections may have on their operations. If the outcomes of these elections prioritise sustainability, EU authorities will be more inclined to patronise businesses that are perceived as environmentally friendly. This compels businesses to recalibrate their practices to remain competitive. Notably, enterprises considered to be major contributors to pollution could face heightened scrutiny from both consumers and investors. Stringent regulations could be imposed, augmenting operational costs. Conversely, businesses lauded for their sustainability efforts could witness a surge in demand and regulatory approval for their products and services, bolstering their market position.
Five Opportunities for Businesses
The new EU landscape presents numerous opportunities for companies to take action and drive positive outcomes:
1. Build Relationships with Policymakers: Establish connections with policymakers who can advocate for your interests. Cultivate long-term partnerships to become a credible stakeholder and drive favorable outcomes.
2. Influence Policy Discourse: Proactively raise important sector-specific issues to the attention of the newly appointed legislature. By highlighting crucial matters, businesses can shape policy discussions and bring about meaningful change within the EU framework.
3. Foster Collaborative Networks: Leverage the 2024 elections to build a strong network of institutional stakeholders. Collaborate with like-minded organizations, industry associations, and influential partners to create a collective voice that holds weight in shaping policies and regulations.
4. Mobilise Coalitions: Use the elections as an opportunity to rally support and form alliances on specific issues. By aligning interests and mobilizing groups, businesses can amplify their impact and effectively address key concerns with a unified front.
5. Manage Brand Reputation: Proactively showcase your commitment to sustainability, innovation, and responsible practices within the newly appointed institutions. Align your brand values with the priorities of incoming policymakers to strengthen your reputation and secure a favorable position in the evolving EU landscape.
The outcome of the 2024 EU elections will be influenced by various factors, including public concerns about sustainability and the economic landscape of the EU. However, it is undeniable that these elections present significant opportunities for businesses. They can engage with new policymakers, position themselves as trusted stakeholders, raise important issues, build institutional networks, mobilise coalitions, and manage brand reputation within the evolving EU landscape. By actively participating in the electoral process, businesses can shape policies, forge strategic alliances, and establish themselves as influential voices in EU policy-making.
Therefore, the run-up to the European Parliament elections provides an opening for your organization to shape the EU’s future agenda. The political groups are already working diligently on their electoral vision, creating a favorable environment to proactively share your ideas and solutions.
Publyon has a proven track record and extensive network that can support you in delivering on your ambition to access policy makers in view of influencing and providing input to the political agenda. Do not hesitate to reach out to us to learn more about our EU elections services.
Sowing the seeds of Nature Restoration Law
In light of its commitment to environmental preservation, safeguarding nature stands as a paramount concern for the European Union. With the intention of addressing this priority, the European Commission tabled a proposal known as the Nature Restoration Law in June 2022. Its primary aim is to revive deteriorated ecosystems and thereby accomplish the overarching objective of ensuring that all ecosystems are in a state of optimal health and functionality. The law would require member states to restore at least 20% of their degraded ecosystems by 2030. This would involve a significant investment from businesses, as they would need to adapt their practices to help achieve the restoration goals.
Sector specific consequences: what to expect?
The Nature Restoration Law is expected to exert a substantial influence on businesses operating within diverse sectors. For instance, enterprises within the agricultural domain may face a mandate to implement more sustainable practices, encompassing measures like reducing the application of pesticides and fertilizers, introducing cover crops, and implementing crop rotation. While such adjustments may entail increased costs for farmers, they may also stimulate heightened demand for organically grown and other sustainably produced food products.
Similarly, the forestry sector may confront requirements to augment reforestation efforts and adopt more sustainable forest management practices. Although this could potentially generate new employment opportunities within the forestry industry, it may also impose elevated costs on timber products.
Likewise, the construction sector may be compelled to incorporate more sustainable materials, including recycled resources and timber sourced from sustainably managed forests. While this may translate into augmented expenses in construction projects, it could concurrently reduce the ecological impact of the construction sector.
The tourism industry may witness repercussions from the Nature Restoration Law, particularly if it results in restrictions to the accessibility of natural attractions. For example, the restoration of a river may render the operation of rafting or kayaking tours infeasible.
Overall, it is anticipated that the implementation of the Nature Restoration Law will yield noteworthy ramifications for businesses spanning diverse sectors. Enterprises capable of adapting to the novel legal requirements stand to benefit from fresh prospects and potential cost savings. Conversely, businesses unable to accommodate the regulatory modifications may encounter escalated costs and missed opportunities. In view of these, it prompts us to question: What can businesses do to prepare best for the outcomes of the proposal?
How to prepare your business for upcoming rules?
1. Review your sustainability strategy
Take a critical look at your company’s existing sustainability objectives and determine their alignment with European legislation. For instance, the proposed Nature Restoration Law emphasises achieving upward trends in biodiversity indicators for agricultural and forest ecosystems. Even if your business operates outside these sectors, it is essential to recognise the potential indirect impacts on such ecosystems, highlighting the interconnectedness of biodiversity and the circular economy.
2. Get familiar & identify opportunities for your company
To navigate the Nature Restoration Law effectively, it is advisable for businesses to familiarise themselves with the law by studying the proposal and staying informed about the latest developments through news sources and updates. Additionally, businesses may find it beneficial to seek guidance from government representatives or industry associations to gain a comprehensive understanding of the law’s implications. Secondly, businesses should proactively explore opportunities that align with nature restoration objectives. Businesses that are obligated to make operational changes under the law should initiate the planning process by identifying the specific requirements and carefully assessing their existing operations. This assessment can help businesses develop a strategic plan to implement necessary changes, which may entail investing in innovative technologies, adjusting production processes, or sourcing environmentally sustainable materials.
3. Implement strategic changes to drive transformation for your business
Now that you have all the necessary elements in your hands, the next step is implementation! Undoubtedly, this is easier said than done. This last step requires knowledge, resources and expertise. With support from the right team, your business can swiftly transition to a greener approach, showing genuine respect for the environment. Publyon’s sustainability consulting service can support your company in making a meaningful sustainability transition whilst remaining resilient and unlocking the opportunities of upcoming changes.
Curious to delve deeper into the topic? Feel free to reach out to Laura, she would be delighted to arrange a coffee meeting and discuss it further with you!
The European People’s Party (EPP) and its allies successfully blocked the EU’s nature law in a committee vote on June 27. The EPP expressed concerns about the potential burden on industry and farmers due to the proposed regulations within the European Green Deal, particularly those related to agriculture. The Nature Restoration Law has faced strong opposition, compared to other bills. A plenary vote is scheduled for July 11, where compromises will be sought, but the EPP will have another opportunity to reject the entire law.
Susana Solís Pérez - MEP
In this edition of Publyon Sustainability Newsletter, we are delighted to present an exclusive interview with Member of the European Parliament Susana Solis Perez (Spain), Shadow Rapporteur for the EU Strategy for Sustainable and Circular Textiles for the Renew Europe Group.
In the interview, we aim at shedding light on the theme of Sustainable Fashion, what does it mean, and what the European Union is doing to tackle the sector’s impact on both the climate and society, including the upcoming Commission proposal for the revision of food waste and textile aspects of the Waste Framework Directive. MEP Soliz Perez also provides some insights into what she believes the priorities of the next European Commission and European Parliament will be in terms of environmental policies.
Susana Solís Pérez is a Spanish MEP from Ciudadanos, part of the Renew Europe Group. She was elected Member of the European Parliament in May 2019. Apart from being Shadow Rapporteur for the EU Strategy for Sustainable and Circular Textiles, she has been appointed Shadow Rapporteur for the European Health Data Space, the EMA fees and the INI Report on Mental Health.
Why is fashion such an important sector to focus on sustainability?
Fashion is one of the largest industries in the world and has a significant environmental footprint. It is estimated that the fashion industry is responsible for around 10% of global carbon emissions and uses a substantial amount of water and resources. Indeed, about 5.8 million tons of textiles are discarded every year in the EU, which means approximately 11 kg per person. Therefore, focus on sustainability is not only important but necessary.
Fast fashion has to come to an end. The EU aims to change this situation by implementing its Circular Economy Package, aligned with the Industrial Strategy. By 2030, textile products in Europe are set to be long-lived and recyclable, to a great extent made of recycled fibres, free of hazardous substances and produced in respect of social rights and the environment. It is crucial to focus on strengthening slow fashion development.
Can you tell us what “Sustainable Fashion” means to you?
To me, Sustainable Fashion means producing and consuming clothing and accessories in a manner that is environmentally responsible and socially just. This involves considering the entire lifecycle of a product, from the sourcing of materials to production, distribution, use, and disposal. It also entails ensuring fair wages and safe working conditions for workers, minimizing waste, reducing carbon emissions, using sustainable materials, and encouraging consumers to make choices that are more responsible.
What do you believe are the biggest obstacles to turning the fashion industry into a more sustainable actor?
The answer is simple: the main obstacle is fast fashion and all the process that conveys commercializing fast-fashion products.
Our challenge is to turn from a linear business model into a circular one. And to achieve that, there are some realities that we must overcome: low rates of use, reuse, repair and fibre-to-fibre recycling of textiles and a high-volume low-cost production. The impediments above all? The low availability of technologies to separate textile waste by fibre, the complexity of global supply chains and the need for innovation to develop more sustainable materials and processes. Fibers are often blended with others (e.g., polyester with cotton) which makes recycling more difficult due to low availability of technologies to separate textile waste by fibre.
Transparency is a key issue to take into account too. It cannot be an obstacle anymore. Some obligations regarding public disclosures of textile companies must be implemented while, of course, maintaining the competitiveness of the sector.
Awareness will also help a lot in this process. Part of the responsibility to make textile industry a sustainable sector relies on us due to our over-consumption. Without a doubt, it will take some time to change consumers’ way of thinking, but we must make and effort here and learn that it is worth to pay higher prices for more sustainable products, avoiding the use and waste consuming.
Putting ‘fast fashion out of fashion’ must be our motivation to remember our goal and overcome all these obstacles.
How can the European Union support sustainable practices in the fashion sector through regulations and incentives?
The European Union can support sustainable practices in the fashion sector through several measures. The majority of them are included in the EU Strategy for Sustainable and Circular Textiles, which aims to mitigate the impact of the textile sector on the planet. The European Strategy includes a series of pioneer regulations such as the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), the Proposal for Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation (ESPR), the Due Diligence Act or the Product Environmental Footprint (PEF). Initiatives such as the Digital Product Passport are also quite useful to enhance sustainable practices since it helps to create a labelling system for sustainability-produced clothing.
Other proposals such as the recent one of the European Commission, STEP (Strategic Technologies for Europe Platform), will allow us to promote digitalization and circularity in the textile industry, facilitating the innovation of the sector.
And last but not least, educating consumers about the importance of sustainable fashion and promoting ethical consumption is crucial. Awareness campaigns at European level have already been developed, such as ReSet the Trend, which calls on young people to promote circular and sustainable fashion.
What would be your advice to the companies aiming to deliver sustainable fashion products?
My advice to companies aiming to deliver sustainable fashion products would be to:
- Thoroughly assess and understand the environmental and social impact of their supply chains.
- Ensure fair labour practices and safe working conditions across the supply chain.
- Invest in research and innovation to find more sustainable materials and production processes.
- Be transparent with consumers regarding sustainability efforts and achievements.
- Engage with stakeholders, including NGOs and local communities, to gain insights and build collaborations for sustainability.
- Develop products that are durable, repairable and recyclable.
The Commission proposal for the revision of food waste and textile aspects of the Waste Framework Directive will be published on 5 July. What do you expect its impact will be on fashion brands?
I expect that the Commission proposal will push fashion brands to rethink their production and waste management practices.
The revision may introduce stricter regulations regarding waste reduction and the handling of textile waste. Fashion brands might have to adopt more circular business models, where they take responsibility for the entire lifecycle of their products, including recycling and disposal such as the EPRS.
In 2024 we will have the European elections. Do you believe that the subject of sustainable practises in the fashion industry will be high on the agenda of the next European Commission and European Parliament? What do you expect from the next legislature?
Given the growing awareness and concern regarding environmental issues and the significant impact of the fashion industry on the environment, it is likely that sustainable practices in the fashion industry will be high on the agenda of the next European Commission and European Parliament. The prominence of this topic on the agenda will depend on public interest, global environmental trends, and the priorities of the elected representatives will also affect the agenda.
It is important to note that sustainability has been gaining attention worldwide, and there might be an expectation for it to be addressed. The next legislature could potentially focus on evaluating the effectiveness of current policies and consider stakeholder inputs for any new measures. Regardless of the specific focus, it is vital for ongoing engagement and collaboration among policymakers, industry, and the public in addressing sustainability in the fashion industry.
Where can you run into our team?
Hi, my name is Eliza and I am curating this newsletter to bring Brussels’ main sustainability insights to your inbox, every month. Do not hesitate to reach out should you need more information on the newsletter’s content or if you have suggestions for our next editions.Contact