eHealth, protective textiles, sustainable construction, recycling, bio-based products and renewable energy: These are the six areas with high growth and innovation potential identified by the Commission for its lead market initiative.

The Commission adopted a Communication on the lead market initiative for Europe on 21 December 2007, but this adoption was not announced until 7 January 2008.  

The first six lead markets in which innovative solutions will be supported are: 

  • eHealth, as ICT solutions for patients, medical services and payment institutions can help deliver better care for less money; 
  • Sustainable construction, as buildings account for the largest share (42%) of the total EU final energy consumption and produce about 35% of all greenhouse emissions;
  • Technical textiles for intelligent personal protective clothing and equipment, as the EU market has a growth potential of 50% over the next few years and can generate important spillover effects to other market segments of the textile sector; 
  • Bio-based products, as Europe is currently well placed in this market, but perceived uncertainty about product properties and weak market transparency hinder the fast take-up of products; 
  • Recycling, as the sector has a significant market potential and plays a key role in the move towards sustainable consumption and production;
  • Renewable energy, as the development of renewable resources is held back by high costs, low demand, market fragmentation as well as administrative and market barriers. 

An action plan for the coming years is set out for each of the six markets in an annex to the Communication. 

The action plans detail how legislation will be improved in each area to foster innovation and how public procurement, standardisation, labelling and certification will be encouraged. 

The action plans also include complementary instruments, such as business and innovation support services and financial support and incentives.

The impact assessment annexed to the communication estimates that "supported by the focused approach of the lead market initiatives, the combined market volume of the six markets could more than double by 2020 and some 1 million new jobs could be created".

The Commission will, in the future, consider lead market initiatives for other market areas if "the identified criteria appears to be ripe for a similar initiative" and co-operation between member states and other stakeholders on the first six initiatives proves successful.