European Commissioner for the Environment Karmenu Vella and other EU representatives met Mrs. Grațiela Leocadia Gavrilescu, Deputy Prime-Minister and Minister of Environment and other Romanian government ministers and civil society leaders, including ECESP Coordination Group member Dr Elena-Simina Lakatos. This European delegation came to Bucharest on December 6 to present how Romania can get on a “virtuous circle” where it addresses the waste implementation challenges using the profitable business opportunities and jobs a circular economy provides.
Romania has considerable improvement to make on waste management relative to other EU Member States. Eurostat figures include high landfill (70%) and low recycling rates of municipal waste (13% while the 2020 EU target is 50%). This is coupled with insufficient implementation capacity that often impedes the effective use of EU funds.
While the European partners identified the regulatory and policy framework in Romania as one of the barriers that companies experience when introducing eco-innnovation activities and improvements, they recommended to focus on those companies most interested in circular business models and to take the value chain approach that could in turn create significant spillovers into the wider society. Mr Vella also highlighted that the Commission is there to help Member States by offering technical assistance, structural fund support and support in the exchange of best practices.
Romanian authorities have adopted a National Waste Management Plan in December 2017, which includes subsidies for the recycling industry and possibility to introduce a methodology for the financing rules to implement the ‘polluter pays principle’. More recently, the Romanian govenment established an inter-ministerial Waste Management Committee in October 2018 to consolidate the position and impact of the Ministry of Environment towards other authorities.
Following this high-level round table, a panel on Success Stories in the Circular Economy also featured Dr Lakatos, founder and president of the Institute for Research Towards a Circular Economy and Environment. To help the Romanian government in delivering on its commitment to implementing towards Zero Waste with focus on Circular Economy from 2019,, Dr Lakatos proposed to organise 7 regional consultations on the circular economy throughout Romania, and follow these up with a outline circular economy strategy for Romania in conjunction with a European conference.