22 Dec 2017

The Interplay between the Circular Economy and the European Semester

An assessment

Arno Behrens / Vasileios Rizos

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The European Semester is the European Union’s annual cycle of economic policy guidance and oversight. Although monitoring the achievement of Europe 2020 Strategy targets, some of which focus on energy and climate change, is among the key actions of the European Semester, the reviewers so far have concentrated on economic policies in the aftermath of the financial and economic crisis. The circular economy is currently part of the European Commission’s agenda for jobs, growth and investment, which are important themes of the Semester. Against this background, this paper assesses the extent to which the European Semester genuinely takes the circular economy into account in its review process. Based on a close examination of the 2017 cycle of the Semester and interviews with experts in the field, our analysis shows that the exercise has devoted limited attention to the circular economy. Several explanations are offered for this situation, along with recommendations for the way forward.

Arno Behrens is Head of Sustainable Resources and Senior Research Fellow at CEPS and Vasileios Rizos is a Research Fellow in the Energy Climate House at CEPS.

This paper was prepared in the context of the Circular Impacts project, which receives funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under Grant Agreement No. 730316.

Keywords: circular economy, European Semester, resource efficiency, macroeconomic impacts