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Bioeconomy will help to bring jobs to EU’s rural areas and keep the bloc ‘politically balanced’, Dutch MEP says.

“There is also a need to use the potential of agricultural production and forestry. Daily life changes.”

A Dutch MEP has said that the bioeconomy will help to bring jobs to depopulated, rural areas in the EU, especially in Eastern Europe, and help to keep the bloc politically balanced. Lambert van Nistelrooij, a Dutch member of parliament from the centre-right EPP group, gave his views at the Bio-based Industries Joint Undertaking’s (BBI JU) Info Day in Brussels today (12 April).

Addressing bio-based industry delegates, Van Nistelrooij said the bioeconomy was “extremely important” in keeping Europe balanced, not only in relation to the circular economy but in relation to its “political situation”.

He said he was glad that the bioeconomy was being promoted by the EU15 member states (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the UK). He also said that member states that joined the EU in 2004 (Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia) were also pressing ahead with the bioeconomy.

However, Van Nistelrooij said there was a need for a new economy in rural areas of the EU, especially areas that had been affected by depopulation and where a lot of young people were still based.

He added: “There is also a need to use the potential of agricultural production and forestry. Daily life changes.

“Politically, we need the engagement in Europe, especially in eastern Europe.

“You can see a growth in populism when people say ‘Is this the world that was promised to young people when they leave and come back with a big Mercedes and say to their counterparts ‘hey loser why don’t you go to Germany?’’

Elsewhere, earlier in the day, Philippe Mengal, executive director of BBI JU (@BBI2020), praised the European Commission’s adoption of the bloc’s bioeconomy strategy, which was published last year.

It aims to improve and scale up the sustainable use of renewable resources to address global and local challenges such as climate change and sustainable development.

Mengal said: “The strategy gave a clear signal on the need to scaling up and strengthening the bio-based sector.”

Separately, BBI JU has launched its ‘2019 call for proposals’, supporting a variety of topics ranging from resolving end-of-life issues for plastics to producing valuable food and feed compounds from microalgae.

With a total budget of €135 million, the 2019 Call is the sixth in a total of seven for the period between 2017 and 2020 and is built around four strategic orientations: Feedstock, process, products, and market uptake.

In a statement, BBI JU said: “It continues to be based on the acceleration of the development of new sustainable value chains from biomass feedstock supply via efficient processing, to the acceptance and application of bio-based products in the end-markets.”

To video webcast of BBI JU event, click here.

You may also be interested in reading…

Read: Event Review: BBI JU Stakeholder Forum – Bringing together the bio-based community.

Read:Project Focus: Converting dairy by-products into high value bio-based chemicals.

Read:Project focus: Extracting high value products from sugar beet pulp.

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