The EU Eco-Industry's Export Potential


Courtesy of European Commission, Environment DG

 Executive Summary

DGXI of the European Commission has commissioned this study to provide an analysis of current export activity by the EU eco-industry, the employment effects of this export activity, whether exports can be increased in the future and to develop appropriate policy recommendations for promoting EU eco-industry exports and related employment in the future.


Specific objectives of the study are to:

  • Identify the size and character of global environmental export markets.
  • Assess the current extent of EU eco-industry exports, the types of goods and services being exported, to which markets; whether the sector is capitalising on available export opportunities; its competitiveness in world markets and the employment effects of exports.
  • Examine future export opportunities, and whether there is scope for increasing exports, whether EU suppliers are in a position to capitalise on future opportunities and the likely future employment effects.
  • Develop recommendations for policy instruments to promote future EU eco-industry exports, associated employment and competitiveness.

The study reflects the importance attached by the European Commission to the environmental industry in contributing to the achievement of wider environmental, employment and sustainable development objectives; and also links to other EU priorities such as the EU Accession process, overseas development and Kyoto climate change commitments.

The study draws upon data and expert knowledge of the EU and international environmental industry, and makes use of information from sources such as Eurostat, the European Commission, the OECD, overseas Governments, trade associations and individual companies.

Definition of the Eco-Industries

The definition of the eco-industries used in this study is consistent with that contained in “The Environment Industry Manual”, OECD/Eurostat, Nov 1998 (Doc. Eco-Ind/98/1). This defines eco-industries as “activities which produce goods and services to measure, prevent, limit, minimise or correct environmental damage to water, air and soil, as well as problems related to waste, noise and eco-systems. This includes cleaner technologies, products and services which reduce environmental risk and minimise resource use”. The definition categorises the sector according to equipment, construction activities and services provided in relation to pollution management, cleaner technologies and resource management. The definition includes goods and services in areas such as:

  • wastewater treatment
  • air pollution control
  • waste management
  • process optimisation
  • environmental monitoring and instrumentation 
  •  engineering and consulting services
  • analytical services
  • water utilities
  • resource recovery, and
  • renewable energy

Download the main text of the study in pdf format (131 Kb)

Download the annexes to the study in pdf format (172 Kb)

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