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Creating a single innovation market
Commitment 18
Innovation Union commitment text

"By early 2011 the Commission will present an eco-innovation action plan building on the Innovation Union and focusing on the specific bottlenecks, challenges and opportunities for achieving environmental objectives through innovation."

Turning Environmental Problems into Business Opportunities
  • What is the problem?
  • What is our objective?
  • Implementation
  • Milestones
  • Background documents
  • Contact

Specific policies and actions are needed to accelerate uptake and remove barriers in order to promote, accelerate and diffuse Eco-innovation in society. In particular:

  • The lack of transparent price signals, as environmental externalities implies that eco-innovative goods, processes and services are not sufficiently reflected in prices;
  • Appropriate conditions for eco-innovation are dependent from a right balance between legislation, standards and norms;
  • Eco-innovation is a rapidly expanding field of Innovation. Support and governance structures, network, skills and funding sources are only emerging. Rigid economic structures and lock-in into existing infrastructures hampers increased market uptake;
  • Eco-innovation targets global environmental challenges. International cooperation in the field is based on considerations other than a pure competitiveness logic, as it is the case in more traditional sectors;

Public-private partnerships in the areas such as the management of natural capital (air, water, land, biodiversity and natural resources), environmental monitoring and risk prevention require eco-innovation and policies different from innovation in perfect market competition.


The Eco-innovation Action Plan will contribute to achieving environmentally and socially sustainable growth in the longer run and, indirectly, economic recovery in the short-term. In particular this Eco-innovation Action Plan will redirect environmental legislation towards eco-innovation, ensure a consistent impact across the European Union of national eco-innovation policies, leverage private funding for eco-innovation, systematically monitor Member State eco-innovation performance, and introduce eco-innovation into regional and bilateral relations.

The need for a coordinated policy approach able to tackle failures in the Eco-innovation system, to replicate existing best practices in Eco-innovation policy making and to create long term favourable conditions for Eco-innovation requires intervention at a wider EU policy level than the one which individual EU Member States can provide.


The Action Plan will build on and complement the Innovation Union by focusing on specific bottlenecks, challenges and opportunities for achieving environmental objectives through innovation and at the same time generate economic and employment opportunities. It will also detail and operationalise further some of more generic actions highlighted in the Innovation Union.

This Action Plan will further develop and build upon existing experience infrastructure and commitment established by Environmental Technologies Action Plan (ETAP) in shaping more  eco-innovation friendly environmental policy. It will implement a holistic approach to eco-innovation, in order to address the challenge of environmental deterioration without detriment to economic development and job creation. In particular the Action Plan will:

  • Promote innovation from environmental goods, services and solutions to wider eco-innovation opportunities in environment policy, management and business models;
  • Focus  on the sustainable management of natural capital and natural resources, on the reduction of air, water, soil and noise pollution and on the reduction of risks related to the use of chemicals and hazardous substances;
  • Promote new environmental governance structures to bridge the innovation gap between business and environment and mobilise private and public sector, financial institutions and national authorities for eco-innovation action;
  • Promote eco-innovation as a major tool to integrate environmental concerns into other EU policies, in particular agriculture, rural development and cohesion policies;
  • Facilitate networking between businesses and other stakeholders of eco-innovation in the EU with those in third countries.

The actions and structure of the Eco-innovation Action Plan will be reviewed by 2013 in light of the achievements and lessons learned of the Innovation Union and the structure of the new financial perspective.

2010 - 2013 Monitoring eco-innovation performance and up scaling promising eco-innovation policies
Type: Other
2011 -2013/2014-2020 Funding for eco-innovation
Type: Financial support
2011 -2020 Regulatory screening of environmental policy with respect to eco-innovation potential
Type: Legislative

Assesment Show group

Eco-Innovation Support Activities Show group

Lead Directorate-General/Unit, Head of Unit

DG Environment, E.4. "LIFE-Environment and Eco-innovation", H. Martin

Other Directorates-General/Units associated


Key external partners

Member State environmental authorities, SME eco-innovation support networks, financiers, research community, OECD, UNEP

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