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Analysis of the EU policy mixes supporting transformation of European production-consumption systems

The EU and other regions of the world face tremendous social, economic and environmental challenges. Current production and consumption systems are highly unsustainable, but are deeply embedded in current ways of life, infrastructures, socio-technical configurations and social and cultural expectations. It is broadly accepted by environmental policy makers and scholars working on sustainability transitions that systemic changes are required to fulfil the ambitious EU’s targets of becoming a climate neutral, circular economy, halting biodiversity loss, meeting the Sustainable Development Goals and living within the planetary boundaries. The EU has therefore developed a whole range of policy strategies and instruments to foster transitions of current production and consumption systems towards more sustainable configurations.

Some of the generic challenges of as well as recommendations for designing policy mixes for sustainability transitions have already been outlined in the EEA report Sustainability transitions: policy and practice in 2019. While the report is very useful and has had a very positive reception by EC officials, the full potential of a policy mix perspective can only be utilised by empirically analysing current policy mixes shaping relevant production and consumption systems and using the emerging insights to develop strategies to accelerate sustainability transitions.

Within the project "Analysis of the EU policy mixes supporting transformation of European production-consumption systems" the IÖW will support the EEA in developing and refining its methodology for mapping and assessing EU policy mixes for sustainability transitions. The research will also generate substantive insights into the strengths and limitations of current EU policies governing production and consumption systems in order to inform transition governance strategies. The research will contribute to a number of EEA reports on the policy mixes influencing transitions in core production and consumption systems such as food, energy, buildings or mobility as well as to the next EEA State of the Environment Report 2025. Initial empirical work will focus on an analysis of the European Commissions ‘Farm to Fork’ Strategy.