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CORRESPONDENT’S REPORT: THE NETHERLANDS THE CIRCULAR ECONOMY: ADAPTIVE LAW FOR DUTCH CIRCULAR AND SAFE BUILDING

International Construction Law Review

CORRESPONDENT’S REPORT: THE NETHERLANDS THE CIRCULAR ECONOMY: ADAPTIVE LAW FOR DUTCH CIRCULAR AND SAFE BUILDING Stéphanie van Gulijk * Professor of Private law, Tilburg University and Deputy Judge at the Amsterdam Court of Appeal SUMMARY In 2019, Ursula von der Leyen announced a new Circular Economy Action Plan focusing on sustainable resource use, especially in resource-intensive and high impact sectors such as construction. For many years, national governments and private actors in the construction industry have been busy with responding to the European circular economy goals. The Dutch government announced that by 2021 there must be a stimulating legal framework for a sustainable building environment. In this paper, I will discuss, from a legal perspective, the barriers and enablers for circular building in the Dutch construction industry. Although several successful experiments with circular building have taken place, circular building can accelerate through digitalisation, improved partnership in construction projects and a stimulating legal framework. According to Dutch building partners, the current legal framework does not fit well with the circular ambitions set out by the government. They claim that for an actual breakthrough on circular building the government first has to rethink the existing legal framework. Research has shown that construction processes are split into too many parts and protocols due to insufficient statutory rules and a high level of self-regulation. This often leads to unclear distribution of responsibilities for building participants. The Dutch Safety Council claimed that a joint safety approach is frequently lacking within Dutch construction projects. In this paper, I suggest two ways for improvement in a growing circular building sector. First, there should be more coherence in legal rules on construction related works in the Dutch Civil Code. Secondly, there should be greater public sector intervention regarding innovative partnership and constructive safety. 1. THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY AS A HIGH-IMPACT SECTOR IN A CIRCULAR ECONOMY A circular economy is an economy that aims for the optimal use and reuse of raw materials in the various links of the production chain: from * Stéphanie van Gulijk is full Professor of Private law at Tilburg University and Deputy Judge at the Amsterdam Court of Appeal. Contact email: [email protected] Pt 1] Correspondent’s Report: The Netherlands the circular economy 133

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