At POLITICO Live’s Sustainable Future Week 2023 – an annual summit held in Brussels – Jorrit Van der Meulen, Amazon’s VP for EU Stores, delivered a recorded keynote speech, with the theme of creating a Green Single Market in the EU. You can watch the speech in the video above, or you can read it in full below.
Thank you, Politico, for organizing this summit.
I’m Jorrit Van der Meulen, and I lead Amazon’s stores in the EU.
In my job, I spend a lot of time thinking about how we can best deliver for our customers — providing them with great prices, selection and convenience — and for our sellers, helping them build and grow their businesses.
Our customers are also permanently and wonderfully dissatisfied — that includes the expectation towards us to be more sustainable and offer more sustainable solutions.
At Amazon we understand that our scale comes with responsibility — and this is what drove us to co-found the Climate Pledge, our commitment to become net-zero carbon by 2040 across our operations, 10 years ahead of the Paris Agreement.
Amazon operates worldwide, but we are also firmly at home in the EU, with over 150,000 permanent employees.
Since its introduction, the European Single Market has been crucial for delivering growth and jobs across the region — and I support the leadership shown by the EU in combining sustainability with economic competitiveness.
And I think the EU can be even more ambitious. It can leverage the Single Market to create green growth and skilled jobs, to accelerate innovation, and to develop cutting-edge green technology.
Today I’d like to urge you to double down on this momentum.
I am convinced the EU has the opportunity to build on its Single Market, and create a Green Single Market.
At the heart of this are small and medium-sized enterprises, also known as SMEs.
They produce almost 60% of the EU’s GDP and account for two out of three jobs in the private sector.
They’re also essential partners for us — all 275,000 of them that are selling on Amazon in Europe.
We have grown, but we’ve retained the same entrepreneurial spirit as these SMEs, and we’ve never lost sight of the importance of supporting them, helping them scale, and be more sustainable.
Let me give you an example to help bring to life the idea of a Green Single Market:
Last year we awarded our Startup of the Year 2022 to Petit Pli.
They use recycled water bottles to make their range of kids' clothes, featuring pleats that expand and contract to grow with the child.
Firms like Petit Pli can make a huge contribution to building a more sustainable fashion industry in a barrier-free and Green Single Market.
And we’re very proud to be Europe’s largest corporate buyer of renewable energy. We’re on a path to powering our operations with 100% renewable energy by 2025.
In Europe, we’ve enabled more than 160 wind and solar projects, from Donegal in Ireland to Lower Silesia in Poland, which over the last 10 years have created €2.4 billion in economic investment for Europe, and more than 3,900 jobs in 2022 alone.
As Amazon’s operations become more sustainable, our partners benefit from this too.
Those are some examples of how the Single Market empowers and drives innovation in sustainability.
Let’s bring competitiveness and sustainability together even more.
I would like you all to think about what a Green Single Market look like.
It would create business opportunities through an EU-wide level playing field.
It would also secure strong SME participation from firms like Petit Pli, with regulations that are clear and achievable for large companies and small, leading to more and innovative green products and services. These will enable:
One: An accelerated ramp-up of renewable energy investments, supported by modernized and smart electricity grids.
This will also accelerate the deployment of alternative infrastructure for electric vans and trucks and then run them on clean power.
Two: A more circular economy that empowers consumers.
We know that products that are part of our Climate Pledge Friendly programme – which helps customers discover more sustainable products – get a at least 10% more views in our store.
And finally three: Environmental regulation should always be created at a European, rather than at national level.
Today, if a small business wants to sell a product across the EU, they need to register with recycling schemes in every country where they sell.
There are better ways to green the single market and nurture small firms.
Let’s simplify by having them register once only or letting a company like Amazon pay on their behalf.
Through strong public and private sector partnerships we can turbo-charge research, innovation, and the deployment of green technology.
At Amazon, we are very enthusiastic to engage and partner on this.
Let’s be bold — and ambitious — for green growth by building a Green Single Market.