Circular economy as an integrated concept in European policy making goes back to the Europe 2020 Flagship initiative of resource efficiency. Under this aspect, the communication: Towards a circular economy: a zero waste programme for Europe was published in 2014 as a framework for the circular economy in Europe. In the study "Regulatory barriers for the Circular Economy", the consortium looked at promising potential markets linked to circular economy, that are closed or under-performing due to regulatory obstacles or regulatory gaps. A case study using qualitative scoping procedure to select high-potential sectors and value-chains was chosen in order to identify concrete value chains, subsectors, economic activities for the circular economy and economic data to underpin the related market potential. Key areas with the highest potential for economically viable market opportunities were determined and further analysis on regulatory barriers preventing these markets from full development was conducted. For the specific areas, the regulatory framework was identified, followed by an analysis of the barriers to circularity and an evaluation of the functioning of the internal market and potential lost market opportunities related to these barriers. The project provided ten case studies to analyse the barriers' impacts and the most promising options for resolving them.
The Wuppertal Institute was responsible for the analysis of specific regulatory barriers aiming to identify and analyse key regulatory obstacles that hinder the realization of economic opportunities in a European circular economy as well as initial ideas on potential solutions. In order to understand why such economic opportunities remain blocked and natural resources are still often used inefficiently, this task followed a broad understanding of "regulatory obstacles" that goes beyond the existing legal frame alone and takes into account other influences from institutional settings alongside the value chains of the circular economy.