CE in S3: Circular Economy Transition in Smart Specialization Strategy

The EU has set an ambitious plan for the adoption and implementation of the circular economy (CE). The Plan estimates that by 2030 the integration of CE will result in savings of over 600 bil. euros for EU businesses will create 580,000 new jobs and will contribute to the reduction of 450 million tons of greenhouse gases. Member States are key players in Europe’s transition to a circular economy. Adopting Circular Economy in each country should be aligned with its strategic documents and identified sectoral strengths and needs, set in the individual country’s Smart Specialization Strategies.

In the past, circular economy projects could not benefit fully from the S3s due to the different requirements of the funding instruments and in some cases lack of CE priorities incorporated in the strategies themselves. In order for all CE aspects (resource efficiency, design, bio-economy, digitalization, new business models, CE education etc.) to be stimulated inclusively, the CE needs to be incorporated in S3 horizontally. 2019 is a truly strategic moment to align this adoption and uptake of the EU CE action plan, as currently the S3s are undergoing evaluation and are in the process of being revised based on past experiences.

Cleantech Bulgaria (Bulgaria, project coordinator: Hamanova Mariyana) and ATHENA RC (Greece, project coordinator: Prof. Phoebe Koundouri, Athens University of Economics & Business  Director EIT Climate- KIC Greece) with the support of EIT Climate-KIC will pilot the adoption of CE in their respective S3s, working together with the responsible authorities. country will identify challenges, priorities, the potential for synergies and support instruments for CE. Participatory workshops with experts from EIT Climate-KIC will be run. Specific approaches to implementation and supporting funding instruments will be discussed and shared with participants. The end goal of the project is to stimulate the timely and systemic adoption of the CE in S3s for the 2020-2027 programming period in the EU Member States.

Together with the support of the Ministries of Economy of Bulgaria and the Hellenic Ministry of Energy and Environment of Greece, a 1-day workshop was held in each country, applying the developed methodology and identifying the needs, barriers and strengths in each of the participating countries. The workshop in Greece took place on 19th September 2019 in Athens. The focus of this workshop was the presentation of the mapping of the key aspects of the National Strategy on Circular Economy (CE) in relation with the Research and Innovation Strategies for Smart Specialisation (RIS3) and the discussion on the implementation of these strategies identifying the needs, barriers and strengths in Greece. Mutual learning between Greece and Bulgaria was guaranteed by providing exchange visits between members of CTBG and ATHENA during the workshops.

Stepping on the outputs provided, a final event in Brussels with the participation of external EU experts and other RIS countries was held during the European Week of Regions and Cities. On Wednesday 9th October 2019, an executive meeting for the CE in S3 project from took place at EIT House, Brussels. The aim of these meetings was to present both Greece’s and Bulgaria’s work and upgrade the project to a National based deep demonstration of the circular economy project, which will be led by ATHENA RC and the Ministry of Environment and Economy. Potential synergies with existing projects of EIT Climate-KIC Greece with focused areas the ports and the plastic are discussed, while the Ministry of Environment and Energy stimulated the discussions by being represented at the meetings in Brussels with Greek delegates from the Ministry of Environment and Energy.


Status: Completed

Start Date: 07/2019

End Date: 12/2019

Responsible: Director Prof. Phoebe Koundouri

Partners: Ministry of Economy of Republic of Bulgaria, Hellenic Ministry of Environment and Energy

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