The European Union's Raw Materials Strategy

31-03-2011

Discussions about the security of raw material supply have become more and more intense in 2010. Prices for several resources have risen significantly. As many mass resources like iron ore were affected, price developments have been a critical and visible factor for several industries. Furthermore, international trade restrictions on rare earths markets attracted public attention. The European Commission has defined a resource strategy that takes the different responsibilities of private and public sector into account. Additionally, it has taken important first steps to implement the resource strategy. The recent communication of the European Commission documents the progress made in the last years and lists several relevant measures for the future. However, larger steps towards a more detailed strategy remain necessary. The policy mix must be tailored to each raw material, at least to the most critical ones. This has not been elaborated yet. Instead, the communication is overloaded with discussions on energy, agriculture and financial markets, which do not bear a solution for resource supply problems of the manufacturing sector.

Discussions about the security of raw material supply have become more and more intense in 2010. Prices for several resources have risen significantly. As many mass resources like iron ore were affected, price developments have been a critical and visible factor for several industries. Furthermore, international trade restrictions on rare earths markets attracted public attention. The European Commission has defined a resource strategy that takes the different responsibilities of private and public sector into account. Additionally, it has taken important first steps to implement the resource strategy. The recent communication of the European Commission documents the progress made in the last years and lists several relevant measures for the future. However, larger steps towards a more detailed strategy remain necessary. The policy mix must be tailored to each raw material, at least to the most critical ones. This has not been elaborated yet. Instead, the communication is overloaded with discussions on energy, agriculture and financial markets, which do not bear a solution for resource supply problems of the manufacturing sector.

Údar seachtarach

BARDT, Hubertus (Cologne Institute for Economic Research, Köln, Germany) and KARAPINAR (Overseas Development Institute - ODI, UK)