EU Maritime Transport Policies

   Economic Sustainability


Economic Sustainable Development

Sustainability as a concept has been widely used in recent documents. It began its inception in the late 1980s after the appearance of The Brundtland Report. The UN-convened World Commission on Environment and Development at that time called attention to two important ideas:

 ·         The well-being of the environment, of economies and of people is inextricably linked;
·         Sustainable development involves cooperation on a global scale.


As such the concept of sustainability articulated several critical shifts of perspective in how we relate to the world around us. First, it suggests that the economic, social and environmental aspects of any action are interconnected. And second, problems are rarely contained within predefined jurisdictions such as one government or a single neighbourhood. Therefore at the core of sustainability, there are three pillars to be considered: society, the economy and the environment. Understanding their complex connections and interdependence requires some effort, and the effort has to be constant.  


In recent years, governments have mainstreamed the concept and objectives of sustainability into a broad range of policies. For instance, Sustainable Development Strategy of the EU was set-up as a framework for a long-term vision of sustainability in which economic growth, social cohesion and environmental protection are mutually supported. The EU economic sustainability focuses on:


1) EU Better Regulation agenda – this has been achieved through the simplification of legislation and reduction of administrative burden;


2) Employment Guidelines – a part of the European Employment Strategy that provides a framework for the development and implementation of measures that are in line with sustainable strategy goals;


3) Corporate Social Responsibility – an opportunity for enterprises to combine economic, social and environmental objectives into their business strategies;


4) Member-state agendas – the EU member-states develop innovative solutions that are relevant to the sustainable development strategy. 


Economic policy progress has been made in the following fields:

·  Sustainable consumption and production

·  Education and training

·  Research and development

·  Financing and economic instruments

·  Energy efficiency and sustainable transport


To improve the implementation of the EU sustainable development strategy, Eurostat introduced sustainable development indicators. Although the GDP is a major indicator for macroeconomic activity, it does not reflect environmental sustainability and well-being. In 2009, a number of initiatives were taken, such as the Commission Communication “GDP and beyond” and the so-called J. Stiglitz report “The measurement of economic performance and social progress”. The general view is that the society does not properly value natural and human resources and more comprehensive indicators are necessary to take into account social and environmental aspects. The Commission will intensify work in this area and report back on the state with the next Strategy Review (2011).

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   Glossary Terms


In general terms, is the ability to maintain balance of a certain process or state in any system. In economics terms, sustainability interfaces with economic processes via social and ecological consequences of any activity. The challenge is to curb and manage economic development without increasing resource use and environmental impact.
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  Additional Information for Economic Sustainability
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   Linked Topics
  EU Transport policy and its instruments
EU Competition Policy
   Related Documents
  European Competitiveness Report 2010 - An integrated Industrial Policy for the Globalisation Era; Putting Competitiveness and Sustainability at Front Stage.pdf
The Fiscal Implications of Climate Change Adaptation.pdf
Sustainability Report - European Economy 2009.pdf
Executive Summary Brundtland Report "Our common future"
2009 Review of the EU Strategy for Sustainable Development.pdf
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   Lessons Learned
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   Information Sources
  DG Enterprise and Industry
DG Economic and Financial Affairs (DG ECFIN)
OECD Sustainable Development
UK Govt Sustainable Development
EUROSTAT Sustainable Development Indicators
European Commission - Environment
Sustainable Development - Europa
DG Competition
European Sustainable Development Strategy
UN Commission for Sustainable Development
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   Related Policies
  Social Sustainability
Environmental Sustainability
Europe 2020 Economic strategy
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