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The European Union aims to reduce its dependency on raw materials from foreign Countries. In particular, the EU is working to reduce, day by day, its dependency from China and US products and technologies. “Without secure a sustainable access to the necessary raw materials, our ambition to become the first climate neutral continent is at risk”. That’s what the EU Commission President, Ursula Von der Leyen, said in her State of the European Union speech in September 2022.
“Lithium and rare earths will soon be more important than oil and gas. Our demand for rare earths alone will increase fivefold by 2030. We must avoid becoming dependent again, as we did with oil and gas. We will identify strategic projects all along the supply chain, from extraction to refining, from processing to recycling. And we will build up strategic reserves where supply is at risk”, Von der Leyen added. That day, 14 September 2022, the EU Commission President announced the European Critical Raw Materials Act.
The European Critical Raw Material Act should be realesed on the 14th of March. The purpose of the Act is to achieve the green and digital transitions, the EU must significantly increase and diversify its critical raw materials supply, strengthen circularity and support research and innovation.
This Act will aim to reinforce EU monitoring capacities and strengthen both the EU value chain through the identification of mineral resources and raw materials projects in the EU’s strategic interest, with strong environmental protection and EU external policies on CRMs.
According to the international media, Euractiv, a draft version of the EU’s Critical Raw Materials Act, “will introduce targets for Europe’s self-sufficiency along the entire value chain”.
As reported from the media, in the draft seen it seems the regulation aims to “decrease the Union’s growing supply risks by strengthening Union capacities along all stages of the strategic raw materials value chain, including extraction, processing and recycling”
The document should include that “10% of the Union’s consumption of strategic raw materials” should be mined in the EU. In addition, 15% of the Union’s annual consumption of each critical raw material should come from recycling”.
It seems also that the EU Commission is working to set even higher targets for the processing of raw materials deemed critical: At least “40% of the bloc’s annual consumption of each strategic raw material”, should be refined within the bloc.
In the documets read by the media, it seems that the European Union aims to set up a “central purchasing agency for critical materials such as lithium and rare earths and force member states to speed up permitting for new mines and processing plants”.
More than 30 million jobs in the EU and many key economic sectors such as automotive, aerospace, and renewable energy are dependent on a sustainable supply of raw materials. “Raw materials are particularly crucial for the development of modern environmentally friendly technologies and a strong European industrial base. Without them, there wouldn’t be any smartphones, laptops, or cars”, explains the EU Commission on its website.
Written by: Irene Giuntella