Covid-19 is said to have caused the greatest crisis after WW II, having a massive impact not only on European citizens and businesses, but on the people around the entire globe. In the European Union (EU) Member States have individually taken security measures to protect their citizens. These measures also focus on the exchange with other countries. This drastically reduced the trade of goods within the EU as well as between the EU and other economic regions. The European Commission (EC) estimates the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak being greater than the financial crisis in 2008. Major economies, such as Germany, already have spent three times the amount of financial support that was provided during the financial crisis.
The economic crisis related to this pandemic won’t be overcome by the work of single national economies, but through a strong joint economic response. The EU and the EC respectively must play a coordinating role within Europe and could also assume global leadership, as no single state or other community of states has got what it takes to lead the response to these extraordinary challenges. Rightly, European business associations, such as Eurochambres, acknowledge the significant added value of a European approach to tackling the pandemic. However, it is not only the sole task of European political decision makers, but rather the task of all stakeholder groups in our society. Besides all the suffering and loss, there is already a broad consensus that the corona pandemic also provided us with an opportunity to rethink our lifestyle and develop a new economic model. A consensus already seems to exist on the colour of our economic recovery: it will be Green.
Already before the EU heads of state and government’s latest summit to agree on a recovery plan for the time after the Corona crisis, Vice-President of the EC Frans Timmermans made clear that “every Euro” spent on economic recovery measures would be linked to the Green and digital transitions. “Every Euro we invest must flow into a new economy rather than old structures”, he told the members of the European Parliament’s Environment Committee. Later, the summit determined that the EU’s recovery spending after Covid-19 would require being in line with climate policy. The recovery plan will be equipped with a trillion Euro budget.
However, as a broad alliance of policy makers, companies, scientists and civil society representatives also correctly points out, an economy built around Green principles doesn’t require creating a new economy from the scratch. Among these principles are the transition to a climate-neutral economy and the protection of biodiversity, which have the potential to rapidly deliver jobs, growth and improve the way of life of all citizens worldwide. Especially with the European Green Deal we have the political plans and strategies in place, which provide the framework for all recovery efforts. As bioplastics can play a crucial role in achieving the Green Deal, in general, they can make significant contributions to a Green recovery plan for Europe’s economy and help developing a new economic model. The deal marks Europe’s way to become a resource-efficient economy with zero net green house gas emissions. Meanwhile, as many other industries, also the bioplastics industry is doing everything it can to support the fight against the Covid-19 virus. Bio-based as well as biodegradable and compostable plastics have already made important contributions.