- Strategic partnerships with third countries on critical raw materials
- Cutting red tape, boosting innovation and developing alternative materials
- Enhanced circularity and ambitious recycling goals
MEPs and the Spanish presidency of the Council agreed on plans to boost the supply of strategic raw materials, on Monday.
The Critical Raw Materials Act is intended to make the EU more competitive and sovereign. It aims to cut red tape, promote innovation along the entire value chain, support SMEs and boost research and 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 the deployment of mining and recycling projects, with faster and simpler authorisation procedures.
During negotiations, MEPs highlighted the importance of securing 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.
MEPs also pushed for a stronger focus on research and innovation concerning substitute materials and production processes that could replace raw materials in strategic technologies. They secured the establishment of circularity targets to foster the extraction of more strategic raw materials from waste products. MEPs also insist on the need to cut red tape for companies, in particular small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
Lead MEP Nicola Beer (Renew, DE) said: “The agreement 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".
"At the same time, we are stimulating research and innovation along the entire value chain. A framework for strategic partnerships on raw materials with third countries on equal terms will also make the EU an attractive partner in geopolitical competition - with real benefits for both sides and strong protection for local communities and nature. With a clear signature from the EU Parliament, the course has been set for Europe's open, economic and geopolitical sovereignty" she added.
The informal agreement now needs to be approved by both Parliament and Council in order to become law. It will be put to a vote in the Industry, Research and Energy committee on the 7th of December.
Electric cars, solar panels and smartphones - all of them contain critical raw materials. For now, the EU is dependent on certain 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 digitisation of economies and societies, the demand for these strategic raw materials is set to rapidly increase in coming decades.