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Private sector to lead circular economy funding

The private sector will drive funding for the circular economy package, European environment commissioner Karmenu Vella has announced.

Vella, who was absent from the package’s launch, said the European Commission is considering setting up a “platform” with the European Investment Bank and national promotional banks to finance the circular economy.

He added that the Commission would encourage businesses and public sector organisation to apply to the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), which is able to invest £229bn (€315bn) over the next three years.

But he did say the Commission would continue to contribute some funds, such as the regional policy programmes to support investments in waste separate collection and recycling infrastructure.

Up until 2020, £4bn (€5.5bn) has been made available for waste management alone, he said.

Vella, speaking at the European Policy Centre in Brussels, said the innovation the circular economy requires needs “targeted investment, particularly for SMEs”.

“The Commission can help with advice, funding, and it can also help with public-private collaboration,” he said.

He mentioned the Commission’s £500m Horizon 2020 investment in research and innovation in the circular economy during the next two years.

After the package was released on 2 December it received some criticism, including from the European Parliament, that the proposals were less ambitious that the ones scrapped last December.

But Vella said that the mandatory landfill cap of 10% by 2030, compared to 25% by 2025, showed that the new package was “significantly” more ambitious than the scrapped proposals.

”This will be a mandatory target, to be met by all member states, whereas the target included in the old proposal was merely aspirational.

”The idea is that by 2025, the actions under the circular economy package will be in motion, and we will be able to review if targets should increase. Any revision, according to the legal text, cannot decrease the level of ambition.”

He added that raising recycling targets would save money for businesses that used secondary raw materials, encouraging them to move away from raw materials, whose prices are increasing.

The European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI)

The EFSI was launched by the European Investment Bank this year to “overcome the current investment gap in the EU” by mobilising private financing.

It will support strategic investments in infrastructure as well as risk finance for small businesses.

The fund will focus its financing on investments in infrastructure and innovation, as well as finance for SMEs.

The European Commission says at least €315bn (£229bn) will be invested in Europe over the next three years.

The EU will provide €21bn (£15.2bn) in initial funding from a €16bn (£11.6bn) guarantee, to be authorised via an EU Regulation, and €5bn (£3.6bn) from the European Investment Bank.

Renewable energy and energy efficiency will be targeted by the fund.

In July the Treasury announced the UK government will make £6bn of UK guarantees available to co-finance EFSI infrastructure projects in the UK

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