ECRN is proactively engaged in promoting and disseminating successful regional policies and strategies concerning the competitiveness and the sustainable development of the chemical industry. Our aim is that our members learn from each other and that their successful policy approaches and challenges are brought to the European policy debate. We connect the European and regional dimensions of policy making.
Our vision is the creation of a Europe-wide network of chemical regions where competitive, sustainable and innovative European chemical industry is built through cooperation, sharing and joint actions.
Bioeconomy and Circular economy
The European Commission has initiated an ambitious transition towards bio-based, sustainable and circular economy. Both policy initiatives – Bioeconomy and Circular economy – span multiple sectors and require holistic, coherent and harmonized policy framework. While the bioeconomy represents the shift towards sustainable use of biomass for the production of bio-based products, carbon neutrality and creation of new properties for materials, the Circular economy adds the aim of new product design enabling circular use and recycling. Sustainable chemicals are key enablers for the bio- and circular economy, as they are in the core of producing bio-based products and advanced agricultural fertilizers, contribute to the reduction of energy demand, pollution, waste and emission of greenhouse gases, while increasing the reuse and recyclability of materials and products.
Already in 2015, ECRN in cooperation with ERRMA (European Renewable resources and Materials Association) voiced the common interest towards sustainability and European bioeconomy in a Joint Statement “Sustainable Chemistry for life. The role of Chemistry in the European Bioeconomy”. ECRN regions contributed to the Committee of the Region Opinion Local and regional dimension of bioeconomy and the role of regions and cities, adopted in May 2017, and together with CoR organised an event on Harnessing the bioeconomy potential of European regions. ECRN Presidency also hosted a Dissemination Conference on Circular Economy with the participation of Mrs Katrin Budde, CoR Rapporteur on the above mentioned Opinion. 2017 was marked by the success of the Final Conference on the of the European Sustainable Chemicals Support Service: ‘Boosting regional investments in sustainable chemicals’, hosted by ECRN and the European Commission.
Digitization of European Industry
The new industrial revolution, digitisation, industry 4.0 and advanced manufacturing are shaping the future of the European industry and industrial policy. ECRN works to unlock the potential of this industrial transformation. We focus on the impact of digitisation on European chemical industry and the role of regional strategies to provide the appropriate framework conditions. These efforts are in line with the ongoing discussions on the topic in the European Parliament, the Commission and the Committee of the Regions as well as with the regional initiatives that are already taking place in some of the ECRN members. Digitisation does not stop at regional or national borders. Therefore, we should actively look for areas of possible cooperation to seize the opportunities provided by this transition. With such incentives, ECRN has organised a Thematic event “Digitising European Industry – unlocking the potential of industrial transformation in the regions” in the European Parliament with participation of MEPs, the European Commission, Committee of the Regions, industry and regional representatives. To embrace the opportunities that digitization can offer, regions are required to swiftly ensure the relevant infrastructure, education, skills and investment. Forth-runners within our network share with their peers what works well and which are the emerging gaps that this transition creates.
REACH has been in the focus of ECRN work since the initial shaping of the policy on EU level. The regulation has a direct impact on chemical companies, their competitiveness, innovativeness and, thus, growth. The debate on the future of the chemicals policy was an important incentive for the regions to join together closer.
After more than 10 years of existence, REACH has contributed significantly to the harmonisation of chemicals policy, safety and data transparency. Long-lasting challenges, however, remain untackled and need to be addressed on political level. ECRN has participated in the official reviews of the legislation, its implementation and impacts and has been engaged in discussions with other relevant stakeholders on the topic. Hosted by our member, the region of Hessen, we organized an Experts’ discussion on “REACH and procedures for SMEs”. With a common vision and voice, we also engaged in the public consultation on REACH REFIT held recently by the Commission.
Cohesion Policy is the second-largest policy of the EU in terms of budget line and has as one of its main beneficiaries the European regions. It plays a key role in strengthening the European integration project in general, reducing social and economic disparities, but it also supports regions to align their strategies to EU priorities.
ECRN as such is an example of a success story of the INTERREG Programme, which allows regions to work together across borders. Our members have been joining forces in various interregional projects such as ChemClust, ChemMultimodal, and S3Chem.
Given the importance of Cohesion Policy, we have been working also on a joint vision for the future of Cohesion Policy post 2020, emphasizing the contributions of the policy for European regions and the need for its continuity.