How can policies on resource efficiency be implemented and improved at EU level? Which actors are particularly important? Which role do they have to play? In the peer-reviewed article by Bettina Bahn-Walkowiak and Dr. Henning Wilts (both Research Unit Circular Economy at the Wuppertal Institute) take a closer look at the relationship of institutions and policy mixes within the multi-level scope of the European Union in the policy field of resource efficiency and map out different configurations. Based on the question of why it is necessary to develop policy mixes to increase resource efficiency, the authors reflect on the methodological categories and characteristics for the development of policy mixes (vertical and horizontal coherence, congruence with overarching goals, consistency of the instruments used, credibility to the actors and scope of the mix) which are discussed in the pertinent literature. What is neglected in theory however is the question of "competences". Who is actually responsible for what? How can such a highly complex entity (the policy mix) be developed and implemented in the multilevel system of the European Union and nation states, countless regions and municipalities? Policy development and policy mixes can not be discussed without looking at the institutional dimension, since, as Bettina Bahn-Walkowiak and Dr. Henning Wilts outline by means of different institutional constellations, they are shaped not only in the national context by diverse influences and coordination requirements, but also every single instrument for the increase of resource efficiency in the multi-level system is often subject to multiple responsibilities.
"As a result, countries tend to increase the coherence of a policy mix by not addressing important (e.g. resource-intensive) policy areas," says Bettina Bahn-Walkowiak and adds: "Or they accept to reduce the consistency of the mix by limiting the scope of the issue addressed, in order to avoid conflicts of interest with other levels of governance." The coordination of stakeholders and industrial interests is often a priority at the national level, but that significantly slows down the process of multilevel and transnational resource efficiency improvements.
Therefore, the article point out to the need to include institutional and multi-level governance issues in policymaking and policy mix development, all the more in the context of the reorientation of the resource efficiency agenda towards the transition to the circular economy.
The complete peer-reviewed article has been published in Energy Research & Social Science, (Volume 33) can be read under the following link.