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Synergic Circular Economy across European Regions

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - SCREEN (Synergic Circular Economy across European Regions)

Reporting period: 2017-11-01 to 2018-10-31

"The general objective of the project was the definition of a replicable systemic approach towards a transition to Circular Economy in EU Regions within the context of the Smart Specialization Strategy. SCREEN also deals with the identification and implementation of operational synergies between investments in research and innovation under Horizon 2020, the Structural Funds and the European Investment Funds.
The project has developed a methodology and tools for:
- Analysis of existing Regional capabilities.
- Identification of cross-regional potential synergies.
- Identification of research gaps to actually implement the above potential synergies into practical projects.
- A portfolio of regional financing instruments for the above identified projects.
- A methodology of funding synergies for cross-regional projects, agreed by all the 17 participating Regions , with a Memorandum of Understanding already signed by 11 Regions.
- A methodology to assess the circularity of one project respect another one, validated through a questionnaire filled in by 164 European stakeholders.
The above results was inserted into two practical guidelines: a “Methodology for regional cooperation” and a “Policy Makers recommendation manual”
SCREEN also set up and operated a ""Laboratory on Policies"" (Policy Lab), participated by one representative of each project partner, members of the Advisory Board and representatives of the Commission Services dealing with Circular Economy. Thanks to the high transferability of the final SCREEN results (all technical deliverables are public), the methodology developed by the project is an actual milestone for a transition to Circular Economy in EU regions.

"SCREEN is a project implemented by a group of Regions and targeted to all the European Regions, with a ""bottom-up"" approach, extremely practical, generated where the circular economy actually takes place and where the problems, barriers and research gaps that hinder sustainable development are generated. The continuous comparison between the partners and the adjustments raised from the discussions carried out in the Policy Lab, produced tools that can effectively facilitate the development of a circular economy in the regions.
The project has been developed in four different steps, all related to each other:
The first step dealt with a common procedure for mapping both real and potential value chains in each Region, where the word ""potential"" indicates those chains still having a ""missing ring"". All the SCREEN regions spent noticeable efforts to define a common language and terminology and to use in practice the mapping tool with common procedures, that have been amended several times by following the indications given by the local stakeholders. It should be noticed that the SCREEN partners are regions with extremely different characteristics and therefore the identification of a common methodology is the first success of the project.
The second step was a synergistic approach based on a comparison of the results of the previous one, in order to find common value chains and particularly to find in a certain Region that ""missing ring"" allowing the development in another Region of a value chain still in a potential status. The cooperation between Regions was developed starting from the needs of their economic actors and by adopting a replicable methodology with a ""bottom-up"" approach: its application by other EU regions may strengthen the cohesion policy and actually meet the needs of the European SMEs.
The identification of interregional value chains has as a natural consequence the development of projects with interregional partners needing to be financed with the structural funds of each concerned Region; however, such “common financing” is prevented by administrative barriers. The third step, implemented through the SCREEN "" Policy Lab, analysed the different existing financing instrument and proposed a new methodology of funding synergies for cross-regional projects, agreed by all the 17 participating Regions with a Memorandum of Understanding already signed by 11 Regions (signed documents available at and open to all the other European Regions. The new proposed instrument is also a practical shortcut to define a sort of “Multi-partner Seal of Excellence”, able to pave the way to the future synergic application of funds for cross regional projects dealing with Circular Economy
The fourth SCREEN step was a common agreement on how to assess specific projects dealing with circular economy: the Policy Lab developed an assessing tool to be used in addition of the ones usually adopted by each Region, validated by 164 European stakeholders and then further fine-tuned after a meeting with the DG ENV officers that developed the Circular Economy Monitoring Framework Document .
All the results obtained constitute the ""Methodology for cooperation between Regions"", while all the difficulties and barriers encountered are reported in a “Manual with recommendations for policy makers”; also containing the research gaps detected during the value chains’ identification suggestions to the European Commission for some research topics able to overcome such gaps.

"The project defined a coherent reference framework for the implementation of smart specialization strategies in a circular economy approach, paving the way to an actual involvement of the private investors. The replicable methodology developed by SCREEN allows other European Regions to use the same approach, thus multiplying the Circular Economy’s leverage effect generated by the project.
The common agreement about additional assessment criteria to be used for defining “if and how much” a certain initiative can be defined “circular” with respect to another one has actually filled an existing gap, providing the public sector with a tool for a coherent assessment of those projects claiming to deal with circular economy.
The SCREEN ""Laboratory on Policies” (Policy Lab) was established as a table of discussion between project partners, Advisory Board and representatives of the Commission Services and played a fundamental role in the achievement of the SCREEN major results. Given its relevant value, the SCREEN partners decided to maintain the Policy Lab operational also after the end of the project, in order to continue the discussions and confrontation among them and with the European Commission, particularly on the circular economy assessment criteria, but also on other relevant items. The Policy Lab is also preparing further projects involving European Regions and dealing with circular economy: it is open to any other Region willing to join it.

Table with the assessment criteria for circular economy projects
The four steps of the SCREEN Project