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Policy convergence as a multifaceted concept: the case of renewable energy policies in the European Union

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  03 May 2017

Sebastian Strunz
Department of Economics, Helmholtz Centre für Environmental Research – UFZ, Germany E-mail:
Erik Gawel
Department of Economics, Helmholtz Centre für Environmental Research – UFZ, Germany E-mail: Institute for Infrastructure and Resources Management, Leipzig University, Germany E-mail:
Paul Lehmann
Department of Economics, Helmholtz Centre für Environmental Research - UFZ, Germany E-mail:
Patrik Söderholm
Economics Unit, Luleå University of Technology, Sweden E-mail:


The literature on policy convergence has identified numerous facets and causal drivers of convergence. Distinguishing four dimensions of convergence (object, benchmark, drivers and directed process) helps clarify why and in what form policy convergence may occur (or not). Thus, depending on, for example, the object of analysis (policy outcome or instruments used), the same empirical case may give rise to opposing assessments. Furthermore, both economic and political drivers are necessary to account for successful policy convergence: economic convergence partly explains why countries may face similar problems, and political mechanisms explain why they might choose similar policies to solve a given problem. This article illustrates the multifaceted character of convergence for the dynamic field of renewable energy policies in the European Union. The empirical results indicate temporary convergence in the case of policy support instrument choices and conditional convergence in terms of renewable shares. However, the results suggest divergence of public R&D subsidies targeting renewables.

Research Article
© Cambridge University Press, 2017 

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