The EU has been pursuing a transition to a circular economy in earnest since the launch of the first EU Circular Economy Action Plan in 2015. In March 2020 the European Commission adopted a new Circular Economy Action Plan. Although a number of circular economy initiatives have been put forward, further steps are still needed to achieve a full circular economy transition in the EU.
The study ‘European Circular Economy policy overview’, commissioned by PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, was conducted to provide an assessment of the ongoing development of circular economy policy at the EU level. It specifically outlines a set of initiatives (legislation, plans and other policies) since the publication of the EU Circular Economy Action Plan in March 2020, and provide a brief overview of their anticipated effects.
The report finds that there are various levels of synergy between circular economy initiatives and addressing key environmental challenges including pollution, resource security, climate change and biodiversity loss. As well as addressing circular economy specifically, CE-related initiatives that tackle the way we produce and consume can contribute to achieving objectives in other areas of EU environmental policy.
The analysis of the EU circular economy initiatives in this report also indicates that the concept of the circular economy at the EU level has been changing. It has moved beyond a focus on waste and is increasingly addressing priorities higher up the waste hierarchy, such as reducing and reusing products. However, so far it does not adequately recognise the importance of absolute reduction of resource consumption to achieve a full circular economy transition in the EU.