Since the publication of the European Union’s Circular Economy Action Plan in 2015, this new sustainabil- ity paradigm has become a guiding force behind the environmental and economic policies of the Junker Commission. The European Union (EU) has taken a particular approach to circularity, with high expec- tations to increase competitiveness, promote economic growth and create jobs while reducing environ- mental impacts and resource dependency. However, the circular economy (CE) is a contested paradigm, for which many competing interpretations exist, each seeking varying degrees of social, ecological and political transformation. Considering the emerging and contested state of the academic literature on CE, the EU’s embrace of the concept is a remarkable phenomenon, which remains poorly researched. The aim of this paper is thus to address this research gap by analysing the CE discourse and policies of the Junker Commission (2014-2019) in order to critically discuss their sustainability implications and develop key policy recommendations. To do so, this research uses a combination of qualitative and quantitative research methods. The paper first critically analyses the EU’s discourse based on a typology of circular- ity discourses. It then reviews the complex set of concrete CE policies and actions adopted by the EU and compares them to its discourse. Results show a dichotomy between words and actions, with a dis- course that is rather holistic, while policies focus on “end of pipe”solutions and do not address the many socio-ecological implications of a circularity transition. Several actions are thus recommended to tackle the systemic challenges of a circular future from a plural perspective.

Analysing European Union circular economy policies: words versus actions.

Salomone, Roberta
Ultimo
Membro del Collaboration Group
2021

Abstract

Since the publication of the European Union’s Circular Economy Action Plan in 2015, this new sustainabil- ity paradigm has become a guiding force behind the environmental and economic policies of the Junker Commission. The European Union (EU) has taken a particular approach to circularity, with high expec- tations to increase competitiveness, promote economic growth and create jobs while reducing environ- mental impacts and resource dependency. However, the circular economy (CE) is a contested paradigm, for which many competing interpretations exist, each seeking varying degrees of social, ecological and political transformation. Considering the emerging and contested state of the academic literature on CE, the EU’s embrace of the concept is a remarkable phenomenon, which remains poorly researched. The aim of this paper is thus to address this research gap by analysing the CE discourse and policies of the Junker Commission (2014-2019) in order to critically discuss their sustainability implications and develop key policy recommendations. To do so, this research uses a combination of qualitative and quantitative research methods. The paper first critically analyses the EU’s discourse based on a typology of circular- ity discourses. It then reviews the complex set of concrete CE policies and actions adopted by the EU and compares them to its discourse. Results show a dichotomy between words and actions, with a dis- course that is rather holistic, while policies focus on “end of pipe”solutions and do not address the many socio-ecological implications of a circularity transition. Several actions are thus recommended to tackle the systemic challenges of a circular future from a plural perspective.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11570/3182086
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