Critical raw materials: new trends in European policy

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Supporting EU-wide clean energy technologies and development, as well as promoting the EU policies contributing to resilient value chains (to concentrate on the minerals and metals supply chains) are presently most relevant for the clean energy agenda in the member states.  

The EU is now engaging in projects to ensure broad participation of resource-rich countries in the European policy actions in the following spheres (during 2024): a) in public-private investment in critical raw materials (CRMs) focusing on developing a positive, trade friendly local-value addition agenda in resource-rich countries; b) in inter-governmental business cooperation in environmental, social and governance (so-called ESG) sustainable production and management of CRMs, while addressing relevant pricing challenges.
The Commission aims to start substantive working level discussions within the EU institutions already in May 2024.

The European Global Gateway is an instrument to boost sustainable investments in the framework of EU partnerships with third countries in five priority sectors: – climate and energy, – digital, – transport, – health, – education and research.
The Global Gateway is the EU vehicle to assist partner countries with concrete projects in infrastructure and connectivity, including by boosting and leveraging concrete private sector investments along the CRM value chain, which is also a key objective of the MSP Forum. In this context the initiatives complement and reinforce each other.


Critical raw materials: legislation
The Critical Raw Material Act works in parallel to the EU’s Net Zero Industry Act; both aim to scale up the EU manufacture of key carbon neutral or “net-zero” technologies to ensure secure, sustainable and competitive supply chains for clean energy in view of reaching the EU’s climate and energy ambitions.
Green and industrial transition in Europe is impossible without safe and sustainable supply of critical raw materials. The EU adopted in March 2023 a regulation concerning measures on critical raw materials and formulated a balanced strategy to make imports essential and intensifying EU-wide efforts at international level.
In the perspective, the internal recycling of valuable resources will contribute significantly to secure necessary supply, ensure competitiveness of the member states’ industries and businesses.

More on the critical raw materials regulation in:

The regulation identifies a list of strategic raw materials, which are crucial to technologies important to Europe’s green and digital ambitions, as well as for defence and space applications, while being subject to potential supply risks in the future.
The regulation embeds both the critical and strategic raw materials lists in EU law; it sets clear benchmarks for domestic capacities along the strategic raw material supply chain and to diversify EU supply by 2030.
Thus, a) at least 10 percent of the EU’s annual consumption for extraction, b) at least 40 percent of the EU’s annual consumption for processing, and c) at least 15 percent of the EU’s annual consumption for recycling.
Besides, there is a limit for import (of about 65 percent of the EU’s annual consumption of each strategic raw material) at any relevant stage of processing from a single third country.

Improved security and affordability of critical raw materials supplies must go hand in hand with increased efforts to mitigate any adverse impacts, both within the EU and in third countries with respect to labour rights, human rights and environmental protection. Efforts to improve sustainable development of critical raw materials value chains will also help promoting economic development in third countries and also sustainability governance, human rights, conflict-resolution and regional stability.
The EU member states will need to adopt and implement national measures to improve the collection of critical raw materials rich waste and ensure its recycling into secondary critical raw materials.
The states and private operators will have to investigate the potential for recovery of critical raw materials from extractive waste in current mining activities but also from historical mining waste sites. Products containing permanent magnets will need to meet circularity requirements and provide information on the possibilities for recycling as well as the recycled content.
Reference to:

Diversifying the EU-wide CRMs imports
The EU will have to be self-sufficient in supplying critically vital raw materials and will continue to rely on imports for a majority of its consumption. International trade is therefore essential to supporting global production and ensuring diversification of supply.
The EU will need to strengthen its global engagement with reliable partners to develop and diversify investment and promote stability in international trade and strengthen legal certainty for investors. In particular, the EU will seek mutually beneficial partnerships with emerging markets and developing economies, notably in the framework of its Global Gateway strategy.
The EU will step up trade actions, including by establishing a Critical Raw Materials Club for all like-minded countries willing to strengthen global supply chains, strengthening the World Trade Organization, expanding its network of Sustainable Investment Facilitation Agreements and Free Trade Agreements and pushing harder on enforcement to combat unfair trade practices.
On raw materials information system in:

Minerals security partnerships are also playing vital role: the partnerships represent multilateral cooperation platforms (MCPs). Within the framework of the MCPs the cooperation is aimed at bringing together the raw materials producing and consuming countries at various stages of development. It focuses on advancing and accelerating individual projects and promoting policies that contribute to resilient value chains and to bringing local value-addition.



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