Marie-Jeanne Gaertner joined RREUSE almost 2 years ago. RREUSE is an international network of social enterprises working in the circular economy. She works on textiles policies and coordinates RREUSE’s participation in a Horizon Europe funded project that aims to increase circularity and sustainability in textiles and clothing in Europe: Circular & Sustainable Textiles & Clothing (CISUTAC).
What does the change you are trying to achieve look like? Why is the EU important?
We represent a network of social enterprises and advocate on their behalf at EU level. Our overarching priority is to link the EU’s social policies to its circular economy agenda. We truly believe that you cannot achieve a circular economy without the social element at its core.
We are proactively following social and environmental policies at EU level such as the targeted revision of the Waste Framework Directive, the Waste from Eletrical Electronic Equipment directive or the Services of General Economic interest de minimis Regulation. We want to ensure well-designed EU policies that supports social enterprises active in the circular economy, the exchange of knowledge and best practices, and the creation of innovative partnerships for the development of inclusive and circular business models in the EU and beyond.
Which challenges are you facing?
It is a constant battle to make people understand who we are and why we are important. The people we represent are different in each country and we have to find ways to align their needs.
Building a network is very important to influence politicians, but when you are just entering the Brussels bubble it can be challenging. However, once you find your allies and start approaching policy-makers, doors will open more easily.
One tip you want to share with other public interest advocates?
My main takeaway from the training is that you need to get the right message to the right person at the right time. It is important to keep a holistic perspective. Rather than working on one target or one moment, you need to look at the whole political decision-making process and identify where you need to be at each stage.