Thursday, June 13, 2024

Critical raw materials: plans to secure the EU’s supply | News | European Parliament

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The Critical Raw Materials Act is designed to make the EU more competitive and sovereign, by cutting red tape, fostering innovation along the entire value chain and supporting SMEs. It also aims to boost research, the development of alternative materials, and more environmentally-friendly mining and production methods.

The legislation will set up economic incentives and a more stable and secure business framework for mining and recycling projects, with faster and simpler authorisation procedures.

During negotiations with Council on the law, MEPs pushed for a stronger focus on the production and scale-up of materials that can substitute strategic raw materials. They secured the establishment of targets to foster the extraction of more strategic raw materials from waste products. MEPs also insisted on the need to cut red tape for companies, in particular small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Strategic partnerships with third countries

MEPs also highlighted the importance of strategic partnerships between the EU and third countries on critical raw materials, in order to diversify the EU’s supply, with benefits for all sides. They secured measures to pave the way for long-term partnerships with knowledge- and technology-transfer, training and upskilling for new jobs with better working and income conditions, as well as extraction and processing on the best ecological standards in partner countries.

Quote

Lead MEP Nicola Beer (Renew, DE) said: “This legislation is an industrial policy blueprint for a secure and sustainable supply of raw materials in Europe. With targeted economic incentives, we are creating project-planning certainty for private investors – through single points of contact for companies, and fast and simple authorisation procedures with clear deadlines for national authorities. This will boost mining, processing and recycling in Europe”.

Next steps

The legislation was adopted with 549 votes to 43, with 24 abstentions. It will now have to be formally endorsed by the Council before publication in the Official Journal.

Background

Electric cars, solar panels and smartphones – all of them contain critical raw materials. Critical raw materials are pivotal for the EU’s green and digital transitions, and securing their supply is crucial for the European Union’s economic resilience, technological leadership, and strategic autonomy. Since the Russian war against Ukraine and an increasingly aggressive Chinese trade and industrial policy, cobalt, lithium and other raw materials have also become a geopolitical factor.

With the global shift towards renewable energies and the digitalisation of economies and societies, the demand for these strategic raw materials is set to rapidly increase in the coming decades.

Conference on the Future of Europe

The legislation reflects several proposals from the Conference on the Future of Europe; specifically, Proposal 5 (Sustainable consumption, packaging, and production) and Proposal 17 (Reducing EU dependency on foreign actors in economically strategic sectors). These initiatives focus on sustainability, economic autonomy, and strategic sector resilience, key themes of the Conference.

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