EURO Journal on Decision Processes

, Volume 4, Issue 1–2, pp 119–155 | Cite as

Renewables in the EU after 2020: a multi-criteria decision analysis in the context of the policy formation process

  • Simone Steinhilber
  • Jutta Geldermann
  • Martin Wietschel
Original Article


The policy problem of a post-2020 renewables policy framework for the EU is analysed using the multi-criteria decision aid method PROMETHEE, and put into a wider context of the policy formation process using the Multiple Streams Approach. The political debate includes two policy items: Firstly, the EU climate and energy target structure for 2030; and secondly, if the decision is taken for a new renewables target in 2030, whether and to which degree a future renewables support scheme should be harmonised on European level. Analysing 16 future policy pathways in detail, assuming three different decision maker prototypes, we conclude that if a 2030 renewables target exists, policy pathways with lower degrees of harmonisation are more likely to be implemented. The combined application of Kingdon’s Multiple Streams Approach with PROMETHEE to this policy formation process illustrates how the two methods complement each other. While Kingdon’s approach takes a broader view and is able to explain seemingly irrational behaviour of policy entrepreneurs, PROMETHEE is suitable for analysing one section of the policy formation process in more detail, namely the identification, discussion, and selection of policy alternatives.


Multi-criteria decision analysis PROMETHEE Renewable energy Policy harmonisation Multiple streams approach Policy formation process 

Mathematics subject classification

90B50 90B99 



The PROMETHEE analysis was conducted in work package 6 of the European research project beyond2020, co-funded by the Intelligent Energy Europe Programme of the European Union. Full reports can be downloaded at We thank the anonymous reviewers for their constructive feedback and advice.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg and EURO - The Association of European Operational Research Societies 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Simone Steinhilber
    • 1
  • Jutta Geldermann
    • 2
  • Martin Wietschel
    • 1
  1. 1.Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation ResearchKarlsruheGermany
  2. 2.Georg-August-Universität GöttingenGöttingenGermany

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