Macro-economic and societal benefits from creating new markets in a circular economy

Specific Challenge

The EU has committed itself to a resource efficient growth path. A strong record in eco-innovation and an ambitious EU environment and climate policy has contributed to Europe's global excellence and competitiveness in a range of areas, such as waste and water management, climate adaptation, nature protection and biodiversity enhancement, air quality and soil decontamination. These economic sectors have consistently grown over the last decade and in many cases increased their research intensity. They are critical to moving forward the transition to a circular economy, and are also important sources of growth and jobs, which can be boosted within an enabling EU macro-economic policy framework.

For its dialogue on progress with the Member States notably in the context of the European Semester, the European Commission needs a solid and policy-actionable assessment based on concrete data and indicators of the macro-economic, societal, environmental and labour market benefits/costs of developing successful and innovative approaches which contribute to the transition towards the circular economy.


Within the context of the European Semester, the action should:

  • facilitate a better understanding and operational use of the current evidence base, including reliable datasets and projections;
  • identify market and societal impacts of resource and waste flows – from extraction to end of life;
  • identify innovative approaches based on the circular economy concept in Member States;
  • assess their economic, societal and resource-efficiency impact on existing or new markets;
  • estimate such impacts in the short, medium and long term; and
  • estimate and assess the macro-economic, societal and environmental costs and benefits of mainstreaming such approaches.

The project should also elaborate a benchmark between Member States and with a set of performing Third Countries, covering both green and blue growth potentials, further building on achievements in the waste and water sectors, and embedding the role of the digital economy in the analysis.

In agreement with the Commission services, projects should ensure appropriate flexibility so as to respond in real time to potentially fast-changing policy scenarios.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU in the range of EUR 0.5 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected Impact

The project is expected to contribute to:

  • creating a reliable knowledge base and reference framework on the macro-economic, societal and environmental impacts of resource efficiency/circular economy innovations, for both the European Commission and Member States, as potential sources of growth and jobs and on the macro-economic policy conditions for tapping these;
  • improving the European Semester's evidence base in areas related to Societal Challenge 5;
  • developing options for policies and investments that are economically, environmentally and socially sound.
Application date
Social sciences
Humanities : Anthropology & Ethnology