Index 
 Previous 
 Next 
 Full text 
Procedure : 2011/2056(INI)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A7-0288/2011

Texts tabled :

A7-0288/2011

Debates :

PV 12/09/2011 - 21
CRE 12/09/2011 - 21

Votes :

PV 13/09/2011 - 5.22
Explanations of votes
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :

P7_TA(2011)0364

Texts adopted
PDF 194kWORD 111k
Tuesday, 13 September 2011 - Strasbourg Final edition
An effective raw materials strategy for Europe
P7_TA(2011)0364A7-0288/2011

European Parliament resolution of 13 September 2011 on an effective raw materials strategy for Europe (2011/2056(INI))

The European Parliament ,

–  having regard to the Commission Communication of 2 February 2011 entitled ‘Tackling the challenges in commodity markets and on raw materials’ (COM(2011)0025),

–  having regard to the Commission Communication of 4 November 2008 entitled ‘The raw materials initiative - meeting our critical needs for growth and jobs in Europe’ (COM(2008)0699),

–  having regard to the report on ‘Critical Raw Materials for the EU’ by the Subgroup of the Raw Material Supply Group of Directorate-General for Enterprise and Industry(1) ,

–  having regard to the Commission Communication of 3 March 2010 entitled ‘Europe 2020: A strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth’ (COM(2010)2020),

–  having regard to the Commission Communication of 26 January 2011 entitled ‘A resource-efficient Europe – Flagship initiative of the Europe 2020 Strategy’ (COM(2011)0021),

–  having regard to the Commission Communication of 8 March 2011 entitled ‘A Roadmap for moving to a competitive low carbon economy in 2050’ (COM(2011)0112/4),

–  having regard to the Commission Communication of 28 October 2010 entitled ‘An Integrated Industrial Policy for the Globalisation Era Putting Competitiveness and Sustainability at Centre Stage’ (COM(2010)0614),

–  having regard to the Commission Communication of 06 November 2010 entitled ‘Europe 2020 Flagship Initiative Innovation Union’ (COM(2010)0546),

–  having regard to the Commission Communication of 9 November 2010 entitled ‘Trade, Growth and World Affairs - Trade Policy as a core component of the EU's 2020 strategy’ (COM(2010)0612),

–  having regard to its resolution of 9 March 2011 on Industrial Policy for the Globalised Era(2) ,

–  having regard to its resolution of 3 February 2011 on waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE)(3) ,

–  having regard to its resolution of 16 June 2010 on EU 2020(4) ,

–  having regard to the guidance document on ‘Non-energy mineral extraction and Natura 2000’ by the Directorate-General for the Environment, European Commission(5) ,

–  having regard to the Staff Working Document accompanying the Commission Communication of 4 November 2008 entitled ‘The raw materials initiative - meeting our critical needs for growth and jobs in Europe’ (COM(2008)0699) (SEC(2008)2741),

–  having regard to the ‘Raw materials policy 2009 annual report’ by the Directorate-General for Trade, European Commission(6) ,

–  having regard to the study on ‘The links between the environment and competitiveness’ by the Directorate-General for the Environment, European Commission(7) ,

–  having regard to the Commission Green Paper of 10 November 2010 entitled ‘EU development policy in support of inclusive growth and sustainable development – increasing the impact of EU development policy’ (COM(2010)0629),

–  having regard to the Commission Communication of 10 November 2010 entitled ‘on the consolidation of EU Africa relations’ (COM(2010)0634),

–  having regard to the upcoming Commission Communication on trade and development,

   having regard to the Commission Communication of 15 September 2009 entitled ‘Policy coherence for development – Establishing the policy framework for a whole-of-the-Union approach’ (COM(2009)0458),

   having regard to its resolution of 18 May 2010 on the EU Policy Coherence for Development and the ‘Official Development Assistance plus’ concept(8) ,

   having regard to its resolution of 25 November 2010 on the inclusion of Corporate Social Responsibility clauses in international trade agreements(9) ,

   having regard to the Council Conclusions of 10 March 2011 on tackling the challenges on raw materials and in commodity markets,

   having regard to Article 208 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (Lisbon Treaty), which reaffirms that the EU shall take account of the objectives of development cooperation in the policies that it implements which are likely to affect developing countries,

–  having regard to the current Doha Round negotiations,

–  having regard to the 2007 Africa-EU Joint Strategy and the Tripoli Declaration by the 3rd Africa EU Summit on 29/30 November 2010,

–  having regard to the current WTO case on nine raw materials by the EU, US and Mexico against China,

–  having regard to Rule 48 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy and the opinions of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, the Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Committee on Development, the Committee on International Trade and the Committee on Agriculture (A7-0288/2011),

A.  whereas the EU requires a strong industrial base, which is highly dependent upon adequate supplies of raw materials (RM), as it greens, in order to move towards a low-carbon economy and to remain competitive,

B.  whereas the complexity of the administrative processes and the lack of coordination between administrations can result in delays of several years in obtaining authorisation for the exploitation of mineral resources, whereas such delays are excessive, increase the capital costs of investment and exclude small and medium-sized undertakings from the market,

C.  whereas worldwide demand for RM has been steadily increasing, especially for ‘technology metals’,

D.  whereas the EU Member States, Australia and the United States have the potential to develop their own resources' extraction of the critical RM (CRM), base metals and rare earth elements (REE),

E.  whereas advances in new technologies will continue to increase demand for resources central to the development of these industries,

F.  whereas international supply is partly restricted by export quotas, and prices are reaching record heights,

G.  whereas, in the manufacturing sector, the share of material cost as part of the total production costs is significantly higher than the share related to workers' payroll and whereas, in all sectors, the upward trend in the former is not expected to be reversed, at least in the medium term,

H.  whereas markets benefit from a fair and level playing field,

I.  whereas increased competition over RM can aggravate international relations and lead to resource conflicts,

J.  whereas these challenges can be an opportunity for new innovative partnerships of mutually beneficial cooperation between the EU and third countries,

K.  whereas, in many developing countries, the exploitation of natural resources has not been undertaken to the benefit of the population because of the existence of undemocratic regimes, fraud, corruption or armed conflicts,

L.  whereas the actions proposed by the Commission to boost resource efficiency and recycling are mostly limited to assessments of what could be done, instead of concrete measures to be taken, and are therefore insufficient to reach the stated goals,

M.  whereas the Commission states that better implementation and enforcement of existing waste legislation is essential to the promotion of a more resource-efficient Europe,

N.  whereas the increase in recycling of valuable materials, especially REE, requires intensive dismantling,

O.  whereas profitable recycling lies in reliable and efficient classification and separation technology, as the value of recycled materials depends on their fraction purity,

P.  whereas increasing efficiencies and recycling are conducive to sustainability, competitiveness and security of supply,

Q.  whereas labour productivity has developed much faster in recent decades than resource productivity, with estimates showing that labour costs represent less than 20 % of a product and resources costs represent 40 %; whereas this implies that swift action is needed to improve resource efficiency,

R.  whereas it is paramount to take timely and decisive steps in implementing an efficient strategy and delivering results on the European Raw Materials Initiative,

A Raw Materials Strategy

1.  Believes that Europe faces both challenges and great opportunities with regard to RM; underlines that the EU now, as demand for RM surges globally, has the chance of reaping benefits by strengthening RM supply and efficiency while satisfying the needs of EU industries and the RM sector; emphasises that the availability of fair access to, and stable and predictable prices of, RM are of vital importance for the development potential, competitiveness, innovation and preservation of European industry; while restrictions in access and supply, particularly to CRM such as REE, as well as high price volatility, can hinder the competitiveness, eco-efficiency and innovation prospects of EU industry, especially SMEs; welcomes the fact that the Commission spearheaded the issue of RM policy with its Raw Materials Initiative (RMI) in 2008, and calls strongly on the Commission and the Member States to move towards its swift implementation; believes that resource policy and resource diplomacy are of high importance for the EU, not only with regard to industrial policy and international trade but also as a transversal issue concerning different fields of domestic policy, as well as foreign and security policy; asks the Commission to pay as much attention to this issue as to the energy issue; sees this also as a task for the European External Action Service (EEAS);

2.  Believes that the responsibility for a coherent and effective EU diplomacy must lie with the EEAS and the relevant Commission services – and especially with DG Trade with regard to trade issues – acting in close coordination with the Council and Parliament; believes, furthermore, that the strategic relevance of RM should be reflected in the organisation of the EEAS and in the staffing of relevant EU delegations; stresses the importance of coordinating the foreign policy of the EU and of the Member States in the field of RM;

3.  Calls on the Commission to give adequate focus to commodity markets and the RMI separately, since the two fields differ in nature and require specific measures to address their divergent problems; highlights the fact that financial and commodity markets today are more intertwined than ever and that price volatility is exacerbated by speculation; notes that properly functioning RM markets would provide the necessary incentives for business to use resources more efficiently, substitute resources, recycle and further invest in R&D activities for substitution; encourages the Commission, therefore, to foster proper functioning of the RM markets by, for example, proceeding with the review of the Markets in Financial Services Directive in order to provide for more transparent trading; stresses that the three pillars of the RMI complement each other in solving the issues of RM and securing RM supply in the EU; calls on the Commission to implement the RM strategy in a balanced and coherent way, particularly with regard to other important European policies, especially within industry, research, environment, transport and Europe 2020; notes in this context, particularly, the important role played by a strong innovation and industrial policy;

4.  Welcomes the Commission's work on identifying CRM, all of which are important ‘technology metals’ and must be taken into account in subsequent measures; calls on the Commission:

   to regularly update the CRM list and to observe non-scarce but strategically important RM with a view to countering tendencies towards inflation that give rise to concentrations in ownership of suppliers;
   to establish a ‘risk radar for CRM’, to analyse current and future needs and prices as well as the negative effects of shortages in potential CRM, especially REE, with regard to the renewable-energy, high-technology, defence and even automotive sectors;
   to analyse the supply chains depending on CRM, the refining capacity, also leading to semi-finished products, and the interaction between CRM and their associated base metals;
Recalls that, within RM and CRM in particular, the criticality of different elements varies, as well as their availability, use, need for processing and, consequently, pricing at the different stages of the supply chain, which should be taken into consideration in the analysis; draws attention further to the diversity of logistical paradigms for RM streams in the common market;

5.  Notes that not all RM markets behave in the same way and, in particular, that RM markets in the agricultural sector are subject to strong seasonal and climatic factors and therefore require particular attention;

6.  Calls on the Commission, therefore, to produce a study on Europe's imports of RM which, though not listed as critical (for example lithium, hafnium and nickel) are nevertheless of strategic importance in terms of meeting Europe's industrial needs and producing consumer goods with high added value; the study should also assess our industries' dependence on these RM and measures to secure their supply, as well as the environmental cost of extracting them and the alternatives which might be envisaged;

7.  Welcomes the fact that a broad range of RM, such as natural rubber, wood and aggregates, are included in the Commission Communication; calls on the Commission to carry out analyses on the availability of, and potential demand for, these materials and on this basis to take appropriate action, if and where needed; states that this report focuses on strategic and critical RM;

8.  Points out that effective governance of RM policy is key to an effective RM strategy; notes that an effective strategy must include a continuous dialogue with the stakeholders concerned; emphasises the need for close coordination and provision of information within the Commission and the European Parliament and between Member States; recommends the establishment of a high-level interdepartmental RM task force in 2011, as is the case in France and the United States, encompassing the relevant DGs, the Joint Research Centre (JRC), the European Environment Agency and the EEAS, to elaborate, monitor and review policies, including partnership agreements, to ensure strategic coherence and to promote the establishment of an early-warning system, inter alia for market distortion and resource-fuelled conflicts, complemented by a monitoring group; calls on the Commission to set up a long-term ‘European Raw Materials Roadmap to 2050’, which would identify future developments, threats and opportunities in the RM and CRM sectors and which could help European industries, academic and research institutions to engage in long-term planning and investment; calls further on the Commission to support Member States in developing their own RM strategies and to foster coordination and the exchange of best practice among them, including on the external dimension; suggests that the upcoming communication on the external dimension of energy could serve as a template;

9.  Insists that the European Parliament be regularly informed on the development of non-energy RM in the framework of the RMI and on the fulfilment of the latter's objectives via an annual progress report, also focusing on policy coherence with regard to trade, development and environmental policies and social impacts, as well as data on CRM;

Turning a challenge into an opportunity for European industry: resource efficiency, re-use, recycling and substitution

10.  Notes that overcoming the RM challenges provides an opportunity to invigorate the EU's industrial base, technological capacity and know-how and to increase competitiveness and stable qualified employment via an ambitious industrial innovation strategy; notes that notwithstanding the importance of an effective trade policy and the use of own resources, good RM governance and increasing efficiencies, re-use, energy-efficient recycling, lowering resource use, also through improved product quality standards and the ‘use-it-longer’ principle, where appropriate, and employing green technologies will be key to competitiveness, sustainability and supply security in the medium to long term; believes that any initiative in this regard should be based on proper impact assessments focusing on potential environmental, social, and competitiveness impacts; highlights the importance of applying consistently the legally binding European Waste Hierarchy as set out in the Waste Framework Directive, which prioritises prevention, reuse and recycling, followed by recovery and disposal; remarks that social innovation, lifestyle changes and new concepts such as eco-leasing, chemical leasing and sharing should be supported by the Commission;

11.  Notes that lower consumption levels, prevention of waste generation and re-use are key components for the transition to a resource efficient economy;

12.  Suggests that the Commission undertake a comprehensive study on economic leasing models as alternatives to ownership of goods and their impact on material use and recovery; highlights that awareness is the main challenge in this regard;

13.  Stresses the need to work towards decoupling economic growth from increased use of resources, which will also help decrease relative import dependency; notes the importance of establishing the RM strategy also within the wider context of climate change; welcomes, therefore, the Commission's plan to launch a flagship initiative on resource efficiency; calls on the Commission to identify the obstacles to increasing resource productivity (including technical barriers, costs, etc.) and to incorporate and assess medium- and long-term resource efficiency improvement targets that reflect the need to reduce EU RM import dependency, as RM imports in the EU are per capita the highest in the world; in order to evaluate progress objectively and draw comparisons with other countries, asks the Commission to develop a more reliable methodology for measuring resource efficiency, taking into account the work of Eurostat in this field, as well as the results of a recently commissioned European Parliament study on the subject;

14.  Welcomes the development of instruments and indicators, such as TEEB (the economics of ecosystems and biodiversity); urges the Commission to promote and stimulate the development of these instruments and their use;

15.  Believes that a tax on mineral resources is not an adequate fiscal tool for increasing resource efficiency, while calling on the Commission to commission a study on the effects of a tax on water and land use, with specific attention to possible unintended repercussions on economic activities and renewable energy production in the EU;

16.  Calls on the Commission to strongly consider extending, based on a thorough impact assessment, the ecodesign approach to RM, to assess the possibility of introducing new instruments, to work with standardisation bodies, to evaluate the feasibility of a top-runner programme for products with regard to resource efficiency, to strengthen advisory services on resource efficiency, particularly for SMEs, for example by strengthening such programmes in the European Agency for Competitiveness and Innovation (EACI); calls on the Commission to support SMEs in this field by promoting the sharing of best practice among Member States, providing access to relevant research under FP7 and future research EU programmes; calls on companies to make use of either the Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) or ISO standards; calls on the Commission and the Member States to leverage public procurement in order to enhance resource-efficient products and products utilising secondary RM, as well as securing sound and transparent recycling at their end-of-life; notes that in recycling it is not only quantity that matters, but also quality; stresses, therefore, the importance of recycling-friendly product design; stresses the value of including resource use in product information and eco-labels in order to empower consumers; calls on the European standardisation bodies to streamline the issue of resource efficiency in setting standards;

17.  Calls on the Commission to review how the Eco-Design Directive, the Directive on End-of-Life Vehicles, the Directive on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment and the Battery Waste Directive could be modified so as to increase recycling, not just in general but also for valuable RM including REE, e.g. by more specific requirements on dismantling, and to propose amendments to these acts accordingly;

18.  Notes the contribution that re-use and recycling can make to reducing greenhouse gases (GHG), as the use of RM is a significant source of GHG production; further notes the high recycling rates for specific sectors governed by recycling legislation; asks the Commission to identify ways of further increasing recycling in pertinent sectors by inter alia improving the legal framework for the circular economy; stresses the need to invest in the recycling of RM, particularly REE; calls on the Commission to launch an in-depth EU material flow analysis based on the entire life-cycle of RM (from mining to waste) by sector and in view of assessing and proposing cost-efficient ways of increasing recycling of RM while respecting the environmental impact; calls on the Commission to harmonise European legislation and minimum recycling standards with a view to greater consistency; calls on the Member States to ensure proper implementation of existing legislation, and calls further on national industry associations to actively promote recycling among their members and to facilitate cooperation with research institutions and other sectors; notes the importance of decoupling the amount of manufactured waste from the increase of manufacturing production;

19.  Notes the importance of creating industrial synergies on recycling and helping companies discover how their waste and by-products can serve as resources for others; calls on the Commission and Member States to promote approaches such as that taken by the UK with its National Industrial Symbiosis Programme;

20.  Calls on the Commission:

   to investigate and promote projects on urban mining as it can be much richer than primary mining ores, and a large part of valuable secondary RM can be extracted, re-used and recycled, and to invest in projects that generally reduce the use of RM and thereby bring about societal change,
   to investigate, including via an independent impact assessment, whether closed landfills could be re-opened to recycle potential scrap material with best available technologies (BAT), as this would lead to increased availability of RM and additional employment across the Union,
   to examine remaining mining and metallurgical waste dumps,
   to complete an EU database on mining waste sites by 2012 and to enforce the mining waste directive,
   to ensure that this waste is treated with the BAT,
   to encourage life-cycle management of buildings, ensuring, where appropriate, the recyclability of materials used in their construction,
   to gradually introduce a general ban on waste landfill throughout the European Union;

21.  Is of the opinion that there is a dire need for more information on urban mining and therefore asks the Commission to assess especially the potential but also possible limitations in this regard;

22.  Encourages the Commission to develop a recycling strategy with retrieval as close to the source of waste as possible, including the purification of waste water, as this would permit the retrieval of higher concentrations of RM, prevent irretrievability, lower the negative impact on the environment and possibly be more energy efficient;

23.  Calls, furthermore, on the Commission to submit a proposal to amend the Landfill Directive(10) and to develop and expand the objectives set out in Article 5(2) thereof; considers, further, that, pursuant to the Waste Framework Directive, the reduction target of the ban on sending biodegradable municipal waste to landfill should be extended, starting in 2020, to all biodegradable waste, with the reduction target fixed at 5%;

24.  Calls on the Commission to support recycling partnerships with developing countries; asks the Commission to support pilot projects like zero-waste zones;

25.  Asks the Commission to evaluate how the European Investment Bank (EIB) can help reduce the financial risks of investments in breakthrough-technology recycling plants and other recycling initiatives;

26.  Calls on the Commission to foster research and development on economic incentives for recycling, including recycling of REE, also looking at impact assessments; calls on the Commission, further, to investigate how markets for recycled materials can be supported by, inter alia, certificates for recycled materials, and eco-design requirements, and to ensure that cohesion policy and budgets are also leveraged to promote resource efficiency and recycling;

27.  Emphasises the need to combat the illegal shipment of recyclable materials and of waste containing useful RM, particularly electronic waste covered by the WEEE Directive (2002/96/EC), by improving legislation and enhancing implementation, and calls on the Member States to give urgent attention to this task; asks the Commission to investigate how the further use of the producer responsibility concept could support this goal; highlights the need to establish a global certification scheme for recycling facilities; notes the importance of cooperation between national customs officials; calls on the Commission to examine whether a collective mechanism informing authorities on illegal shipment flows is necessary; asks the Commission to study illegal waste streams and to report regularly on successes in fighting illegal waste exports; asks the Commission to promote an effective distinction in customs declarations between new and second-hand goods by addressing this in the Implementing Provisions of the Modernised Community Customs Code (MCCC-IP);

28.  Calls also, in this context, on the Commission, where welcomed, to support the EU's trading partners in adopting appropriate laws and enforcing adequate control measures to prevent illegal imports of any kind of waste onto their territory and to fight actively against the corruption that often enables these illegal imports;

29.  Calls on the Commission to take into account the critical remarks from some Member States on the Council Regulation establishing criteria determining when certain types of scrap metal cease to be waste under Directive 2008/98/EC, and asks the Commission to strengthen the requirements on product quality and improve the possibilities for checking and ensuring that scrap declared as end-of-waste scrap is of the required quality;

30.  Calls on the Commission to identify priorities for research and innovation into sustainable exploration and production methods, product lifecycles and recycling (cradle-to-cradle), substitution and resource efficiency, as this could also lessen European import dependency on monopolistic suppliers; calls on the Commission to address existing challenges with regard to recycling within the framework programmes, and stresses that attention should be given to the different recycling strategies needed for mass metals and for CRM such as REE; calls on the Commission to couple research funding on RM such as REE with clear goals, such as for example the Japanese target of reducing REE consumption by one third; calls on the Commission to incorporate the experience of third countries that have already achieved high re-collection levels, such as Norway, where around 80 % of electronic waste is re-collected, and to set adequate re-collection targets of its own; stresses the importance of public-private partnerships in this field, involving industry, academia and government; acknowledges the valuable service such institutions also deliver to SMEs; insists on the importance of a European Innovation Partnership on strategic RM to promote the development of resource efficiency, key technology, supply security and the domestic RM sector; calls on the Commission to launch such a partnership in 2011;

31.  Regrets that substitution and re-use are not sufficiently addressed in the Communication; recalls that substitution, particularly for CRM and REE, is of great relevance and can offer efficient solutions to supply and environmental risks when possible; calls on the Commission, therefore, to ramp up its work in this field by leveraging research and innovation funding through the possible development of a substitution R&D programme in the forthcoming research framework programme, supporting demo-plants; encourages the Commission and the Member States to consider setting substitution targets while taking into account relevant impact assessments; calls on the Commission to make full use of the existing REE competency within the EU;

Sustainable supply in the EU

32.  Calls for non-fiscal policies to support domestic RM sectors in attracting investments; welcomes, therefore, cooperation between national geological surveys; calls for increased collaboration between them and encourages the use of common standards and practices that would facilitate the exchange and exploitation of available geological data; welcomes the publication of an annual European RM Yearbook (ERMY), stressing that data on secondary resources and urban mining should be included; asks the Commission to assess whether the creation of an EU Geological Service that pools the work of national surveys and works with international partners is necessary; supports the Commission s work in improving the EU s geological knowledge base; calls on the Commission, in cooperation with the Member States, to develop a digital resource map of the Union;

33.  Notes the importance and supply of domestic RM supply in Europe; calls, therefore:

   for better coordination with regard to exploration, extraction, distribution, processing, reusing and recycling;
   on the competent public authorities (national, regional and local) to apply clear, efficient and coordinated administrative procedures for the granting of authorisations to exploit domestic RM, possibly including establishing a one-stop shop to ease and accelerate the licensing process;
   on the Member States to draw up land use planning policies, including long-term estimates for regional and local mineral demand, to be reflected in national RM policies, which should be based on the strong geological RM know-how present in the various Member States and should not impede trade within the EU or exclude cross-border demand;
Notes the important role played by upstream service companies in the context of domestic mining; stresses the importance of stimulating regional or national RM clusters that bring together industry, geological services, upstream service providers, equipment manufacturers, and mining and refining companies, as well as the transport industry and the social partners, in sustainable mining in Europe, also using new mining technologies;

34.  Calls on the Commission to integrate the biodiversity action plan objectives into the RM strategy to strengthen links between the economy and environment and to take account of the environmental effects of extraction, production, use and disposal of RM; urges the Commission to support the development of strategic land use planning in all Member States to balance RM extraction with other land use demands and to safeguard the environment and biodiversity;

35.  Stresses that extraction activities must be carried out with due regard for the highest standards of workplace security and environmental protection so as to prevent accidents and rehabilitate the areas affected;

36.  Asks the Commission to pay adequate attention to the development of resource-rich areas and to include a comprehensive approach to improving transport infrastructure linking resource-rich areas of the Union to its industrial areas; calls on the Commission, therefore, to ensure that the revised guidelines on Trans-European Transport Networks (TEN-T) meet the needs of industry by providing smooth access to RM;

37.  Reaffirms that the NATURA 2000 guidelines provide a sound basis under which non-energy extraction activities must take place, taking into account the principle of subsidiarity; calls on the Commission to check on a regular basis whether progress has been achieved in the Member States on reconciling RM extraction with nature conservation; notes that codes of practice to achieve technical, social, competitive and environmental excellence are important instruments; recalls Parliament's resolution of 20 January 2011 on a sustainable EU policy for the High North(11) and calls, in this regard, on the Commission, in accordance with the precautionary principle, to assess the possibilities of environmentally sustainable exploitation of sensitive areas that might be valuable suppliers of essential RM, such as the Arctic, the Barents Region and Greenland and, if possible, extend existing partnership agreements with the countries in these regions;

38.  Underlines the need for more transparent and predictable framework conditions on regulatory approval processes for setting up new mines for extraction of metals and minerals, while at the same time not compromising environmental standards;

39.  Notes that the northern European countries and the Barents Region have substantial deposits of ores and minerals, and forests; believes that the northern European region can make a substantial contribution to the RM supply needs of other European companies and thereby reduce European import dependence; believes that there is a clear need to increase awareness of the potential of northern Europe in the ongoing discussion over RM;

40.  Highlights the importance of research, development and innovation (R&D&I) in addressing new challenges; notes the contribution of R&D&I in developing innovative technologies and sustainable methods of mining, refining, ore production and recycling in order to further minimise the environmental footprint and possible adverse social effects;

41.  Urges the Commission to take measures to prompt consideration being given to the re-opening of some mines, exploiting them sustainably so as to reduce the risk of European industry being faced with a shortage of RM;

42.  Stresses the importance of skills and training and the role played by geologists, engineers, miners and other personnel; calls on the Commission and the Member States to engage in a close dialogue with the social partners, academia and industry in this context; calls on the Commission to identify the need for, and availability of, trained personnel in the field of RM R&D, extraction, refining, processing and recycling by 2012 and to share the findings with the European Parliament; calls on the Commission and Member States, in collaboration with industry and academia, to support education on RM via the establishment of special university programmes and scholarships; further supports, in this context, exchange programmes in this field such as the Erasmus Mundus Minerals and Environmental Programme;

43.  Welcomes the proposal for EU diplomacy on RM and REE with the aim of establishing an international regulatory platform, ensuring access to and supply of RM, especially those considered critical, ensuring open global markets and promoting international cooperation on sustainable extraction of RM and an efficient use of resources based on mutual interests; underlines, in this context, the need to establish a strong dialogue in the field of RM diplomacy between industrialised, newly industrialising, and resource-rich developing countries, with a view also to promoting human rights, good governance, regional stability and preventing the risk of resource-based conflicts;

44.  Calls on the Commission to ensure strictest enforcement of existing EU legislation, to include safety and standards of gold mining in the actions under the Flagship ‘Innovation Union’, to include a specific work item on gold mining for the International Panel on Sustainable Resource Management (UNEP), including aspects of safety, innovation, chemicals management, illegal mining and artisanal mining, in order to find a long-term sustainable solution which will ensure that gold is produced or imported for use in the EU in a sustainable manner, and to consider the review of the Berlin II Guidelines on small-scale and artisanal mining;

45.  Points out that artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) can play a vital role in local life, provide employment and support development goals when it is officially recognised, regulated and supported; regrets the relative lack of knowledge and analytical tools in this area and underscores the need to increase its visibility, facilitate more effective ASM policy design and implementation and monitor assistance efforts to help prevent poverty traps such as child labour, unsafe working environments, forced labour, which is often found in artisanal mining, and conflicts associated with small-scale mining activities; also calls on the EU and its Member States to support developing countries at both national and local level by making available expertise on sustainable mining practices, increased resource efficiency and reuse and recycling;

46.  Calls on the Commission to assess the need for setting up a stockpiling mechanism for CRM, especially REE, which would guarantee European companies access to strategic materials used in green, high-tech, defence and health industries and protection against monopolist pressure and price rises; underlines the fact that the role of the EU in any potential stockpiling programme should be limited to providing the legal framework and regulatory oversight;

International fair and sustainable supply of raw materials

47.  Notes the increasing incidence of trade restrictions and distortions of competition in trade in RM; calls on the Commission to consistently monitor and address on regional, multi- and bilateral levels the issue of export and import restrictions; trade-distorting measures with regard to industrial RM and particularly CRM must be fully investigated and could lead to further legal steps within the WTO framework; calls on the WTO to monitor closely the impact of import and export restrictions and, in this connection, supports the creation in the WTO of a monitoring tool on tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade on RM and REE and the setting-up in the G20 of a ‘Raw Materials and Rare Earths Stability Board’; calls on the Commission to make use of all its international networks, including the diplomatic service, to improve relations with RM and CRM supply countries and regions, and thus to facilitate the international trade in RM, and especially CRM; welcomes the EU's intention of pursuing an active RM diplomacy which encompasses various policies such as foreign, trade, environment and development policies and which promotes and strengthens democratic principles, human rights, regional stability, transparency and sustainable development; believes that concrete priority actions and a comprehensive strategy for sustainable supply of REE need to be developed in the very short term; calls on the Commission to involve European REE stakeholders in identifying such actions;

48.  Recognises the legitimate rights of developing countries' governments and parliaments to enact policies and regulate foreign investment in the public interest, in consultation with civil society, in such a way that foreign investment benefits the local economy, creates domestic added value and fosters development; emphasises that the EU RM Strategy should not stand in the way of these rights;

49.  Welcomes the EU's efforts to promote sustainable trade in RM with third countries (e.g. FLEGT);

50.  Stresses the need to establish clear rules for cooperation in the field of RM trade between all participants involved (producers, exporters, transit countries, importers);

51.  Calls on the Commission to ensure coherence between development policy and the RMI whereby EU's RM policy should take full account of the sustainable economic growth in the developing countries and be consistent with the overarching goal of eradicating poverty, as enshrined in Article 208 of the TFEU; stresses that firm support for the economic, social and environmental development of resource rich countries could help them build solid and democratic institutions, which will ensure mutual benefits for both exporting and importing countries; calls, therefore, for human rights and democratisation clauses to be included into future agreements with RM exporting partner countries; believes that the EU should also support developing countries to diversify their economies, reduce their dependence on RM exports and increase the value of their products through domestic manufacturing and processing; calls on the Commission, when preparing the new external action instruments for the period after 2013, to include measures to support good governance and sustainable mining in the programmes for democratic and economic stability of fragile states that are suppliers of RM;

52.  Considers it the responsibility of companies to procure resources; acknowledges the difficulties in procuring resources for SMEs; asks the Commission, therefore, to consider how concepts such as a European RM Holding could be supported non-financially; asks the Commission and the Member States to study Japan's JOGMEC closely;

53.  Urges Member States to cooperate with each other as part of a European RM strategy; calls for this strategy to take advantage of the synergies between economic, mining, industrial and international policies and to aim to safeguard supplies of strategic substances;

54.  Calls on the Commission to evaluate the outcome of the WTO case against China and to make future use of WTO mechanisms where appropriate;

55.  Notes the importance of Africa-EU relations and the Addis Ababa agreement of June 2010; insists that this partnership be based on mutual interests, points out that in fostering sustainable mining practices it is important to exchange best practices on good governance, increased resource efficiency, reuse and recycling, management of tailings and waste-rock, rehabilitation of mine legacy, health and safety, protection of workers and the eradication of child labour; points out that the African Union stated in the African Mining Vision that African countries have not been able to benefit thus far from their competitive advantage in natural resources, and that measures therefore need to be considered to ensure that natural resource wealth benefits the population of resource-rich countries;

56.  Outlines the importance of bilateral cooperation on RM, as demonstrated by the EU and the African Union in June 2010, and encourages further efforts in the context of the Joint Africa-EU Action Plan for 2011-2013; calls for similar cooperation to be developed with other countries that are major producers of CRM; proposes, as one of the concrete targets of RM diplomacy, source-diversification from South-East Asia towards Latin-America and Africa of certain RM on which the EU is import dependent;

57.  Welcomes the approach of this Action Plan that consists in providing training on best practice in negotiating mineral contracts and in fostering scientific cooperation in the mining sector, in addition to promoting good governance, including transparency;

58.  Regrets that the Communication fails to name other regions or countries; believes that alternative RM sources should be explored in order to avoid European dependence on a limited number of countries; to this end, calls on the Commission to promote other mutually beneficial partnerships with resource-rich countries and regions; believes that the EU should offer infrastructure, knowledge-sharing and resource triangle partnerships; calls on the EU to support resource-rich developing countries in developing their geological, mining and mineral processing knowledge, as well as in scientific and legal matters, so as to establish sustainable capacity-building; proposes, in this context, the establishment of cooperatively financed chairs at geological faculties; calls on the Commission to monitor international agreements made by resource-rich countries with non-EU Member States which entail exclusive access to resources, and to ensure fair access to resources and guarantee the functioning of international trade laws;

59.  Is concerned that a strategy for dialogue and cooperation with China, and other key international players, has not been identified; stresses the need for trade and technology dialogue with China; calls on the Commission to examine how pilot projects on sustainable mining and mineral processing, substitution, resource efficiency or recycling of CRM can be established with China, for mutual benefit; also strongly supports similar bilateral dialogues on pertinent RM issues with other key suppliers, such as the BRICS, as they both have and use a vast amount of RM; calls on the Commission similarly to deal with the issue of RM in its European Neighbourhood Policy;

60.  Considers that the EU's RM strategy should reflect the differences between developed and major emerging economies on the one hand and least developed countries on the other;

61.  Stresses that the question of access to RM should be integrated successively into peace-building and conflict prevention policy measures, as a substantial number of conflicts have re-emerged in certain regions;

62.  Concurs that development policy plays a role in helping countries turn their resource wealth into sustainable and inclusive growth, inter alia by enhancing governance and transparency; underlines the fact that development policy, including the GSP, is not an RM diplomacy tool, but believes that it can play an important supportive role in European RM policy; calls on the Commission therefore to ensure coherence between the two; welcomes the inclusion of explicit guarantees on non-discriminatory market access to RM in EU trade agreements and as a prerequisite for WTO membership; agrees though that trade agreements should provide the necessary flexibility to support developing countries in creating linkages between the extractive industry and local industry; believes that countries resource sovereignty must be respected and asks the Commission, in this context, to balance opposition to export taxes in developing countries by employing a differentiated approach taking account of the various national contexts so that development goals and industrialisation of developing countries are not put at risk; underlines that free and fair trade is of importance to the development of the global RM sector and wealth creation in all societies; notes that revenue from RM can play a crucial role in enabling least developed countries to achieve the Millennium Development Goals;

63.  Is concerned that the revamped RMI does not refer to the GSP or GSP+ or propose alternative trade incentives for the promotion of human rights, environmental standards, avoidance of child labour and support for domestic reforms for countries falling outside of the scope of these schemes; asks the Commission to support and encourage diversification initiatives in developing countries' economies, which are highly dependent on certain RM;

64.  Calls on the Commission to help developing countries to overcome information asymmetry in negotiating RM and mining contracts through capacity-building, and to help with negotiating technology transfer, both at national level and among local communities;

65.  Stresses the role that corporate social responsibility plays by adhering to high environmental and social and labour standards abroad and applying best available technologies; believes these should be promoted through relevant fora such as the G8, G20, WTO, OECD, UNCTAD, UNEP and its International Panel for Sustainable Resource Management, the international metals study groups and other bodies; applauds, in this context, positive contributions through the UN's Global Compact; calls on EU companies to develop an appropriate code of conduct for those operating in third countries and to base their activities on the OECD guidelines for multinational enterprises and ISO 26000; calls on the Commission to take measures which ensure compliance with social, environmental and labour standards by European companies mining natural resources in third countries; calls on the Commission to come forward with a proposal of its own on country-by-country reporting concerning conflict minerals and to establish legally binding requirements for extractive companies to publish their revenue payments for each project and country they invest in, following the example of the US Dodd-Frank bill; supports the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and the global network Publish What You Pay (PWYP); believes that these standards should, in particular, be applied to projects receiving EU funding, for example from the EIB; urges the EU to investigate how the importing of illegally traded or extracted minerals can be prevented; asks the Commission to investigate whether ‘fingerprinting’ technology could be used in this context and to promote pilot projects based on the experiences of the ‘coltan fingerprint’; calls on the EIB to undertake a regular analysis of the expected impacts of its lending in the extractive industry;

66.  Expresses its great concern regarding the numerous well documented cases of EU companies violating environmental and labour standards and human rights;

67.  Reiterates that transparency initiatives in the sector of extractive industries are in effect pro-business, that they can create legal security and sustainable long-time partnerships and that they can act as safeguards against the re-opening of negotiations or expulsion; notes that there are challenges to be addressed and that some contracts require confidentiality but should nevertheless be under public scrutiny; notes that the Ghanaian Petroleum Revenue Management Bill is a good example of retaining a certain confidentiality on the one hand while safeguarding parliamentary scrutiny on the other;

68.  Considers that EU companies should be legally liable in their home countries for any violation of human rights, environmental standards or ILO core labour standards by their subsidiaries abroad and the entities they control;

69.  Asks the EIB and the Commission to consider more rigorously whether projects contribute to poverty eradication, sustainable development and inclusive growth before deciding on supporting the extractive industries sector in developing countries;

70.  Is concerned about the continuing trade in, and use of, minerals from conflict zones, whose production gives rise to unacceptable violence and illegal activities; calls on the Commission, the EEAS, the Council and the Member States to take this situation into account in the context of their relations with third countries; calls on the Commission and the EU's strategic suppliers' countries to jointly develop an effective RM traceability systems from import through to recycling or disposal and to introduce a mutual certification scheme for RM and their trading chains (Certified Trading Chains), so that trade can be guaranteed to be fair, and, in particular in order to prevent abuses with regard to trade in RM from crisis regions; calls on the Commission to cooperate with the relevant international institutions (UN, OECD, ILO) with a view to identifying, and endeavouring to harmonise, the best certification practices;

71.  Stresses that financial markets can play an important role in hedging the risk of both producers and consumers of RM and commodities; calls on the Commission to take the necessary measures to ensure there is transparency on commodity markets and to act decisively against unjustified commodities speculation, leading to commodity market abuse; if regarded as necessary on the basis of in-depth empirical analysis; notes that this includes appropriate initiatives within the context of the G8 and G20 negotiations;

72.  Is concerned about the impact of derivatives markets on price trends for RM; considers that there should be more effective controls on OTC derivatives markets; against this background, supports measures such as enhancing transparency on OTC derivatives under the supervision of the ESMA; considers that such measures could lead to greater security for investors and SMEs and enable European producers to plan with greater certainty;

73.  Welcomes the work on RM and sustainability in the OECD, G8 and G20 and stresses the further need for a G20 dialogue on RM in order to develop a common perspective; further welcomes the will of G8 and G20 members to fight RM price volatility and calls for the development of concrete measures to curb speculation in that field; calls on the Commission to promote the work of the OECD on the impact of export restrictions and their use as a policy tool; supports the inclusion of non-OECD members in these discussions; calls for the creation of strategic cooperation between the EU, US and Japan on CRM towards a ‘global RM watch’ by sharing demand and supply data, common forecasting, encouraging the exchange of best practice, technological know-how and patents, analysing supply chains, investigating the possibility for joint strategic stocks and the establishment of joint R&D projects; takes the view that such issues should be part of the agenda of the next EU-US Summits; calls on the Commission to promote Track-II diplomacy on RM by supporting the exchange of non-governmental organisations, academia and think-tanks from the EU and other resource-relevant countries; calls on the Commission to organise regular events, such as JOGMEC's ‘Metal Saloons’ on RM with other resource-relevant countries; further asks the Commission to investigate the feasibility of an international statistics initiative on CRM based on the example of the Joint Organisations Data Initiative (JODI), as well as whether an international covenant for metals might be a useful tool; calls on the European Defence Agency to contribute, in accordance with Article 42(3) of the TEU, to the identification of measures to strengthen the industrial and technological base of the defence sector with regard to RM;

Agricultural products and commodity markets

74.  Supports the analysis provided by the Commission with regard to agricultural products in the context of global food security, with diminishing global food reserves and increasing population and hunger, and as regards market perspectives, underlining the extreme volatility in food and feed prices, the imperfections of the food and feed chains and the role of financial instruments and speculative behaviour as a possible cause of instability, which must be seriously considered; recalls that there are four EU Member States among the countries which are especially vulnerable to rising food prices;

75.  Demands that careful attention be given to the fundamental uncertainty surrounding the increasing interaction between the price movements of energy and non-energy commodities, especially food;

76.  Insists, in line with the Commission, that the international community must adopt a long-term coordinated approach to global food security, including increased research efforts and investment in the agricultural sector in developing countries, notably through development policy priorities, in order to increase resilience and adaptability to food shocks;

77.  Is supportive of the recent efforts undertaken by the G20 on policy responses to price volatility in food and agricultural markets, including through more information exchange in food production forecasts and stresses the need for more transparency and more timely information on food commodity reserves and stocks;

78.  Welcomes the joint communiqué of the 3rd Berlin agriculture ministers' summit of 22 January 2011, signed by 48 countries, which called for an improved ability of agricultural markets to function properly and recognised the importance of trade in terms of creating a balance between the different actors in agricultural markets and improving farmers' access to RM and energy;

79.  Ask for a report from the Commission regarding financial derivatives and commodities regulation so as to establish whether separate regulation is needed for the agricultural commodities given the specificities of the sector; supports the recent Commission proposal on regulating OTC derivatives and the public consultation on the MiFiD Directive; believes that abusive speculative behaviour, malpractice and abuse on derivatives markets should be addressed as a matter of urgency;

80.  Asks the Commission to propose concrete measures to guarantee food security, tackle market instability and, with sustainable overall responsibility, reinforce the operability of the derivatives markets for agricultural commodities as a matter of urgency;

o
o   o

81.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission and the Member States.

(1) http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/policies/raw-materials/files/docs/report-b_en.pdf.
(2) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2011)0093.
(3) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2011)0037.
(4) OJ C 236 E, 12.8.2011, p. 57.
(5) http://ec.europa.eu/environment/nature/natura2000/management/docs/neei_n2000_guidance.pdf.
(6) http://ec.europa.eu/trade/creating-opportunities/trade-topics/raw-materials/.
(7) Study ‘The links between the environment and competitiveness’, Project ENV.G.1/ETU/2007/0041, http://ec.europa.eu/environment/enveco/economics_policy/pdf/exec_summary_comp.pdf .
(8) OJ C 161 E, 31.5.2011, p. 47.
(9) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2010)0446.
(10) Council Directive 1999/31/EC of 26 April 1999 on the landfill of waste; OJ L 182, 16.7.1999, p. 1.
(11) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2011)0024.

Last updated: 7 January 2013Legal notice