Zero Waste Europe Open letter to EU leaders


27 Apr 2020


Open letter

To the kind attention of:

President of the European Commission, Ms Ursula von der Leyen

President of the European Parliament, Mr Davide Sassoli

President of the European Council, Mr Charles Michel

Executive Vicepresident, Mr Frans Timmermans

Subject: COVID-19 recovery in the framework of Green Deal and Circular Economy – No time to waste

Dear Ms von der Leyen,

Dear Mr David Sassoli,

Dear Mr Charles Michel,

Dear Mr Frans Timmermans,


We hope this letter finds you and your families well and healthy.

As the European network of civil society groups working towards a Zero Waste Europe, we write to you today to ask you to redouble your efforts to implement the European Green Deal and an ambitious Circular Economy.

The COVID-19 crisis will require reorganising plans and that the recovery of the EU economy is a priority. Experience shows how an economy that works for the people in the long term needs to work hand in hand with the environment and not at the expense of it.

We are observing with great concern how some conservative industries and groups are ready to use any crisis as an excuse to stop, delay, hinder or even overturn desperately needed policies. These are the groups that exploit the false narrative that we need to choose between the economy and the environment.

Our everyday experience is that an economy that really works, that creates local jobs in European SMEs, that doesn’t pollute and that builds social support systems and solidarity is the one that also has an interest in building natural capital. These are the initiatives that need the legal security, financial support and the political direction provided by the European Green Deal and the European Circular Economy.

Over the last few years we have been seeing a wave of transformation at the local level in the way we manage resources in Europe, this should not be stopped or delayed. 

This letter is a call from  organisations working on the ground with hundreds of European municipalities to facilitate the transition from a linear to a circular economy: we would like the European Union to do more and move faster, and make sure that the COVID-19 recovery plan is building upon already existing plans and strategies.

Given the way we are managing our resources, the COVID-19 crisis is likely to be followed by many more, the climate crisis is only one example. For as long as we don’t address the underlying causes of the systemic problems there cannot be a lasting sustainable economic recovery.

Dear European leaders, Europe was not ready for the COVID-19 crisis.
Will it be ready when the climate crisis or the plastic crisis hit us even harder?

This depends on whether you act today and stay strong in your long term plans. The European Green Deal and the Circular Economy Action plan are steps in the right direction. They must be the basis for tools and drivers for recovery, there is no time to waste.

Yours faithfully,


Rossano Ercolini, President

Joan Marc Simon, Executive Director