Blog Series: COVID-19 and the Circular Economy

The European Commission is taking position to the post COVID-19 reconstruction of our economy


The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the whole globe with full speed. Having a huge impact on the economy, it has put entire industries at risk. With the pandemic threatening the stability of our society and the safety of people all over the world, there are worries that the climate crisis and sustainable development will receive less attention. However, there is a strong link between overcoming both challenges. Facing this crisis without sacrificing sustainable development is an extensively discussed challenge. These are unprecedented times for humanity and the way we deal with and evolve from this will define the future of our lives and our planet. So, the question is how we will continue from here.

Acknowledging this situation, the European Commission’s First Vice-President Frans Timmermans points out the interconnection between the two global crises: “[…] We should not be under the illusion that because of this, the climate crisis has gone away or the biodiversity crisis has gone away. These crises are still there and they will demand us acting to overcome them. […] And if we are able to do that and have the possibility to invest, then we have to make sure that the investment we make takes us into the new economy. Because if we don’t use our investment capacity to create a sustainable economy, an economy that is resilient for the future, based on the Green Deal, then the old economy might be more or less restored, but we will not have the means to transform that into an economy that can weather the next crises. Then we will lose out twice. This is something that I believe is unacceptable and we should at all cost avoid.”[1]

In another statement by Frans Timmermans published together with Bertrand Piccard, a clear direction is defined: “Instead of using the stimulus packages to support ‘business as usual’ – locking in obsolete economic models, and investing in assets that will soon be stranded – we should invest in the new economy to come out of the crisis in better shape than we went into it, fit for the future: sustainable, inclusive, competitive and prepared.”[2]

This blog series intends to examine the chances and risks for a sustainable economy and to identify opportunities lying in a sustainable reconstruction of our system. It outlines potential outcomes of the crisis with a specific focus on the circular economy and plastic waste prevention.