Biobased productsThis brief EU Industrial policy overview for the Bio-based products sector is an extract of the report published January 22, 2014. This staff working document illustrates trends and the impact of the crisis on production, investment, productivity, employment, skills and innovation. It also describes the EU performance in the international arena and considers possible benefits from improvements in the internal market regulations.

Estimates suggest that in 2010 bio-based products accounted for 10% of sales within the global chemical industry, representing 125 billion dollars in value. However, the share could rise to as much as 20% depending on the development of technologies, feedstock prices and policy framework.
Based on an assessment presented in the 2012 Commission Communication on the bio-economy strategy, the segment of bio-based industries in the EU currently represents approximately 57 billion € in annual turnover with 300,000 jobs involved. Bio-based industries encompass the following main categories: Bio-based lubricants, polymers, surfactants, solvents and chemical building blocks; Enzymes and Biofuels, estimated respectively at 50 billion, 0.8 billion and 6 billion € annual turnover.
Europe is technologically well positioned to spearhead the switch to a low carbon society with strong agricultural, agro-food and forestry sectors and world-leading companies in the plant breeding, biotech and chemical/biochemical, engineering and energy industries.
Although the EU industry has already started to make significant investments in bio-refineries - e.g. in France, Germany, Finland, Netherlands, Denmark, Italy, Spain – this has so far been done in a fragmented manner. Europe needs to maintain its competitive edge by consolidating and capitalizing its prominent knowledge base and creating the necessary framework conditions for industry to increase its investments in Europe.


The ongoing work of the task force created after the 2012 Industrial Policy Communication has led to the identification of the following challenges:

  • Sustainable access to raw materials / feedstock in sufficient quantities at a suitable and guaranteed quality and at competitive prices.
  • Uncertainty with regard to the measurement and communication of environmental benefits and product properties.
  • Scaling up from pilot to industrial scale production.


In order to foster the bio-based products sector and its competitiveness it is necessary to review the market entry barriers identified by the task force.

  • With regard of the biomass supply it is essential to generate general recognition of the cascading use of biomass at EU level. The Commission's recently published Renewable Energy Progress Report recognizes a need for coherence of policies, since there is currently a significant detrimental impact from the use of biomass for biofuels and bioenergy rather than for high value-added products.
  • With regard to the measurement and communication of environmental benefits and product properties, it is important to continue developing and applying clear and unambiguous European and international standards and to promote and use harmonized certification and labelling schemes for bio-based products. Standardisation is in progress for the development of a standard for measuring the "bio-based content". Separate standardisation mandates were issued and are on- going, among others, for the elaboration of a standardisation program for bio-based products, for bio-based polymers, lubricants, solvents and surfactants and for the development of horizontal standards for bio-based products.
  • The design and implementation of a communication strategy involving all partners in the value chain and all other stakeholders to achieve coherent messages on bio-based products would also be conducive to the development of the sector.
  • A compilation of product lists and databases of available bio-based products linked with awareness-raising among of contracting authorities in all EU Member States on the availability and capabilities of bio-based products would create a pull effect for the bio-based products industries.
  • With regard to the up-scaling from pilot to industrial scale production, the Commission contributes to the set-up of the Bio-Based Industry Public Private Partnership (BBI PPP) in the framework of Horizon 2020, a Joint Technology Initiative (JTI). This includes an effective link with the SPIRE PPP as a contractual PPP and the SILC II initiative on demonstration projects.


State of the Industry, Sectoral overview and Implementation of the EU Industrial Policy (also attached here below)
Accompanying the document

Commission calls for immediate action for a European Industrial Renaissance
The European Commission is urging Member States to recognise the central importance of industry for creating jobs and growth, and of mainstreaming industry-related competitiveness concerns across all policy areas. This is the key message of the communication 'For a European Industrial Renaissance', adopted on 22 January 2014.
The Commission calls on the Council and the Parliament to adopt proposals on energy, transport, space and digital communications networks, as well as to implement and enforce legislation to complete the internal market. Furthermore, industrial modernisation must be pursued by investing in innovation, resource efficiency, new technologies, skills and access to finance, accelerated by the use of dedicated EU funds. The Communication promotes a more business-friendly Europe through actions to simplify the legislative framework and improve the efficiency of public administration at EU, national and regional levels. Other key issues include easier access to third country markets through harmonisation of international standards, open public procurement, patent protection and economic diplomacy.