Responding to internal socioeconomic and international environment demands, the EU evolved into a significant policy innovator over time. The EU develops ‘entrepreneurial methods’, disseminates policy ideas, information and diffuses policy standards, particularly with respect to ‘science based’ knowledge regulatory policies. As a result, the EU plays a significant policy role in the international arena. In order to understand the EU’s role in policy diffusion externally, it is important to examine the EU transnational administrative structures and their characteristics that support such developments, which is the central interest of this paper.
In 2011, the Commission introduced the Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe, where it proposed a framework for action and underlined the need for an integrated approach across many policy areas and levels. Three years later in 2014, in the attempt to eliminate waste of scarce resources the EU Commission introduced the Circular Economy (CE) platform, with the aim to boost global competitiveness, foster sustainable economic growth and social fairness, generate new jobs and tackle climate change in the globalized world. In 2015, introduced the new CE package in the aim to be even more ambitious, which included food waste.
The CE constitutes a fundamental policy agenda that moves from the linear ‘take, make and dispose’ model to the circular model of ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’. For the first time, the CE links environmental and economic interests and interconnects in this way various EU existing policy areas (e.g. environment, food waste, chemicals, climate, growth, research and development).
Despite a number of existing contributions in the literature, most studies focus on the goals and the potential benefits of the CE, and thus do not adequately examine the governance of the CE. This paper aims to fill this gap and specifically focuses on the administration of the CE. It suggests that the CE ‘closing the loop approach’ contributes to the construction of an EU ‘hybrid’ transnational administrative polity, and signifies the emergence of various transnational administrative networks with significant institutional and policy innovations. The inter-institutional interactions for the CE lead to a new type of integrated transnational administrative integration, whose characteristics and implications this paper aims to unfold and systematically analyse. This paper studies the top-down induced horizontal coordination and sharing of responsibilities and resources among the DGs. It suggests that this did not only intensified but it differs in content than previous inter-institutional coordination in the EU. Within the CE, the various DGs actively complement each other within a common policy agenda. While one DG focuses mainly on the regulatory aspects, others are more involved on the policy targets and distribution of resources. Yet, it involves inter-institutional competition, negotiations and disagreements particularly with respect to allocation of competences and resources. Therefore, it necessitates a clear allocation of responsibilities among the DGs, e.g. to who is responsible for what at which level, for the harmonizing legislation at the European level and better communicating the policy goals. This may also raise concerns of accountability and legitimacy.