Policy context - Circular economy

Policy context

Logo Circular Economy © European UnionEurope is at the forefront of the global transition towards a low-carbon and circular economy. This is an opportunity to transform our economy and make it more sustainable, to create jobs and generate competitive advantages for Europe.

In 2015, the European Commission adopted an ambitious 'Circular Economy Package' which consists of an EU Action Plan containing measures that cover the entire product life cycle. This Action Plan establishes a concrete and ambitious programme of actions and sets out a timeline in its annex by when these actions should be completed.

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The package aims to give clear signals to economic operators and society about the way forward. Actions on the EU level might drive investments at a national level, create a level playing field and remove existing obstacles in the single market. The proposed actions should contribute to 'closing the loop' of product lifecycles through fostering more recycling and re-use and shall bring benefits to both, the environment and the economy.

As part of its continuous effort to transform Europe's economy into a more sustainable one and to implement the ambitious Circular Economy Action Plan, in January 2018 the European Commission adopted a new set of measures, including (i) a Europe-wide EU Strategy for Plastics in the Circular Economy, (ii) a Communication on options to address the interface between chemical, product and waste legislation, (iii) a Monitoring Framework on progress towards a circular economy at EU and national level and (iv) a Report on Critical Raw Materials and the circular economy.

Therefore, the EU Action Plan is accompanied by means to monitor the progress towards the circular economy. For this purpose, an indicator framework was set up. The developed indicators are mostly using data which are already being collected while undertaking the necessary steps to improve the quality of these data. This indicator framework complements the 'Resource Efficiency Scoreboard' and the 'Raw Materials Scoreboard' which were developed in recent years by the Commission.

On 4 March 2019, the European Commission adopted a comprehensive report on the implementation of the Circular Economy Action Plan.

On 11 March 2020, the European Commission adopted a new Circular Economy Action plan. It is one of the main blocks of the European Green Deal, Europe’s new agenda for sustainable growth. The new Action Plan aims to make the economy fit for a green future, strengthening competitiveness while protecting the environment and giving new rights to consumers. Therefore, it focuses on the design, promoting circular economy processes, and fostering sustainable consumption, to ensure that the resources used are kept in the EU for as long as possible.

The Circular Economy Action Plan put forward as part of the EU Industrial Strategy presents measures to make sustainable products the norm in the EU, to empower consumers, to focus on sectors that use the most resources and where the potential for circularity is high and to ensure less waste.

The European Green Deal was presented by the von der Leyen Commission on 11 December 2019. It sets an ambitious roadmap towards a climate-neutral circular economy, where economic growth is decoupled from resources use.

European Commission: Towards a circular economy