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Sustainability, Resource Efficiency and Competitiveness. An Assessment of Resource Efficiency Policies in the European Union

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  • Florian Flachenecker

    () (European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD))

Abstract

Addressing high and volatile natural resource prices, uncertain supply prospects, reindustrialization attempts and environmental damages related to resource use, resource efficiency has evolved into a highly debated proposal among academia, policy makers, firms and international financial institutions (IFIs). In 2011, the European Union (EU) declared resource efficiency as one of its seven flagship initiatives in its Europe 2020 strategy. This paper contributes to the discussions by assessing its key initiative, the Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe (EC 2011 571), following two streams of evaluation. In a first step, resource efficiency is linked to two theoretical frameworks regarding sustainability, (i) the sustainability triangle (consisting of economic, social and ecological dimensions) and (ii) balanced sustainability (combining weak and strong sustainability). Subsequently, both sustainability frameworks are used to assess to which degree the Roadmap follows the concept of sustainability. It can be concluded that it partially respects the sustainability triangle as well as balanced sustainability, primarily lacking a social dimension. In a second step, following Steger and Bleischwitz (2009), the impact of resource efficiency on competitiveness as advocated in the Roadmap is empirically evaluated. Using an Arellano–Bond dynamic panel data model reveals no robust impact of resource efficiency on competiveness in the EU between 2004 and 2009 – a puzzling result. Further empirical research and enhanced data availability are needed to better understand the impacts of resource efficiency on competitiveness on the macroeconomic, microeconomic and industry level. In that regard, strengthening the methodologies of resource indicators seem essential. Last but certainly not least, political will is required to achieve the transition of the EU-economy into a resource efficient future.

Suggested Citation

  • Florian Flachenecker, 2015. "Sustainability, Resource Efficiency and Competitiveness. An Assessment of Resource Efficiency Policies in the European Union," Bruges European Economic Research Papers 32, European Economic Studies Department, College of Europe.
  • Handle: RePEc:coe:wpbeer:32
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    Keywords

    sustainability; resource efficiency; competitiveness; dynamic panel data model; European Union.;

    JEL classification:

    • Q38 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation - - - Government Policy (includes OPEC Policy)
    • Q51 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Valuation of Environmental Effects
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth
    • Q58 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Government Policy
    • C23 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Models with Panel Data; Spatio-temporal Models

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