In the face of climate change and environmental pollution, EU Environment Ministers have called for a greener European industrial policy at an informal meeting in Essen, Germany. The ministers agreed that the European Union needs to place greater focus on improving energy and resource efficiency, promoting eco-innovations, and accelerating the spread of environmental technologies in all sectors. 'Not only do we want to make the European Union the most competitive economy in the world, we also want to be pioneers in resource efficiency and ecological innovation,' stated Federal Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel at the end of the two-day discussions. According to Mr Gabriel, 'Environmental technologies already play a major role for growth and employment in Europe. Their global market volume will double from around €1,000 billion in 2005 to approx. €2,200 billion by 2020. To ensure that Europe can maintain its technological and economic leading position in this field, policymakers must steer the right course. The concept of ecological industrial policy is the economic answer to the ecological question.' The ministers voiced their support for a range of specific measures, outlining that improvements in the European emissions trading scheme are of fundamental importance. They believe that emissions allowances should be allocated to a greater extent on the basis of uniform calculation methods. Allocation should no longer be free of charge; allowances should instead be auctioned. The ministers also advocated dynamic standards so as to provide a strong market incentive for energy-efficient innovations, for example for electrical household appliances. 'We need continuous competition for the most efficient solution, based on the model of the top runner approach that has been proven successful in Japan. With this approach the most effective product sets the standard that all other providers have to follow,' explained Mr Gabriel. Agreement was also reached on the need for Member States to place greater focus on environmentally sound products in the context of their procurement policies, thus contributing to improving the market opportunities of eco-innovations. Research activities should also be intensified, especially with a view to sustainable energy technologies, they stated.