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What is the state of the bioeconomies in Central and Eastern European Countries?

On March 3, the BioMonitor project showcased its initial results on the state of the bioeconomy and its development over time during POWER4BIO’s Bioeconomy Innovation Week.

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As Europe seeks to become a leader in the bioeconomy, all its regions must be fully aligned in implementing policies that encourage its development. POWER4BIO organised its high-level virtual conference entitled the Bioeconomy Innovation Week (March 3 - 5), in which the BioMonitor project shared its findings on the state of the bioeconomy and its temporal evolution in Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries. The central theme of POWER4BIO’s event was the bioeconomies in CEE countries. It brought together key stakeholders from the different bioeconomy sectors to talk about the region’s bioeconomy status in CEE countries in light of recent events such as the new Common Agricultural Policy, the European Green Deal, and the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the themes of the first day of the Bioeconomy Innovation Week was dedicated to the development level of bioeconomies in Central and Eastern European countries. The speakers looked at this important topic from various perspectives. Dušan Drabik (WUR), representing the BioMonitor project, focused on assessing the dynamics of the development of bioeconomies in the CEE region. “Our cross-country comparison reveals that Germany is the front-runner in the circular bioeconomy, but circular bioeconomies in Slovakia, Poland, and Latvia also developed quickly,” remarked Dušan during his session. He presented the results of a novel method that can accommodate a large number of indicators describing the state of a bioeconomy and capture its changes over time. Joining him were Biljana Kulišić and Markus Lier (BIOEASTsUP project), as well as Martin Banse (Thünen Institute of Market Analysis) and Robert M’Barek (EC JRC), both of whom are also involved in the BioMonitor project. It was noted during the session that more attention is needed to collect quality data that would capture the flows in the bioeconomy. The CEE countries, for example, have a high share in EU bioeconomy employment of 42% and 14% in value added, with agriculture dominating. Some recommendations have been made in the process to better develop the bioeconomies in CEE countries. One of them was the need to invest in resources that gather more disaggregated data. Also, more effective communication with stakeholders and bioeconomy actors is required to strengthen the loose ties or “gaps” when monitoring the regional bioeconomy. “The future development of the bioeconomy in the CEE countries will be driven in particular by the Green Deal and the objective of a climate-neutral economy,” remarked Robert M’Barek. “The funds from the Resilience and Recovery Plan, and Horizon Europe, including the recently agreed Circular bio-based Europe Joint Undertaking, could be game-changers for the transition from fossil-based to sustainable bio-based industrial activities.” In the meantime, methodologies will need to be developed so that these would allow us to get an estimate of the needed data from existing databases. Moreover, bioeconomy strategies are crucial right now in supporting the transition to more efficient and innovative rural areas. It was evident in this workshop that many CEE countries do not have bioeconomy strategies, and so their analysis of the bioeconomy is just in its infancy. This means that once they start, the work done in BioMonitor will save them lots of effort to meet their long-term objectives.

Keywords

bioeconomy, green deal, agricultural policy, CEE region, pandemic