On the path to a sustainable EU algae sector

16 February 2021 | Muriel Cozier

Algae represent a largely untapped resource in Europe.

The European Commission is preparing a comprehensive, cross-sectorial EU algae initiative, aimed at increasing the sustainable production, consumption, and use of algae-based products.

Because of its small carbon and environmental footprint, the increased use of algae will help achieve the objectives of the European Green Deal. The Commission says that algae represent a largely untapped resource in Europe. It can be used to produce food, feed, pharmaceuticals, bioplastics, fertilisers and biofuels.

The Commission says that a recent public consultation on the ‘Blue bioeconomy – towards a strong and sustainable algae sector roadmap’ revealed a ‘broad interest’ in the subject. EU and non-EU citizens, research institutions, NGOs, business organisations, companies and public authorities contributed to the consultation. The consultation was open between 21 December 2020 and 18 January 2021.

The Commission has set out five priorities to unlock the potential of the EU algae sector. These are: 

  • Improving regulatory and governance frameworks.
  • Supporting the functioning of the market.
  • Improving the business environment.
  • Increasing social awareness and acceptance.
  • Closing knowledge, research and innovation gaps.

‘The overwhelming majority of responses to the consultation confirmed the relevance of the five priorities,’ the Commission said. Respondents also agreed that the EU has an important role to support the development the EU algae sector, helping to make it competitive and sustainable.

Based on the consultation, and further preparatory work during 2021, the Commission will work to ‘identify effective actions, new opportunities and the needs of the sector to be considered within the forthcoming EU Algae Initiative,’ which sets out how the EU can increase the sustainable production, safe consumption and innovative use of algae and algae-based products.

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