EU proposes act to ensure sustainable supply of critical raw materials


The European Commission has proposed a set of actions which aims to ensure the EU’s access to a “secure, diversified, affordable and sustainable” supply of critical raw materials.

The Commission says the EU must mitigate the risks for supply chains related to strategic dependencies to enhance its economic resilience, highlighted by shortages in the aftermath of the Covid pandemic and the energy crisis, which can put the EU’s efforts to meet its climate and digital objectives “at risk”.

Adopted on 16 March, the Commission says the Regulation and Communication on critical raw materials leverage the “strengths and opportunities” of the Single Market and the EU’s external partnerships to “diversify and enhance” the resilience of EU critical raw material supply chains.

The Critical Raw Materials Act also improves the EU’s capacity to monitor and mitigate risks of disruptions and enhances circularity and sustainability, the Commission says.

Together with the reform of the electricity market design and the Net Zero Industry Act, the Commission says measures on critical raw materials create a “conducive regulatory environment” for the net-zero industries.

(The act) will significantly improve the refining, processing and recycling of critical raw materials here in Europe.

The Commission continues that the Critical Raw Materials Act will help the EU by setting clear priorities for action, creating secure and resilient EU critical raw materials supply chains, ensuring that the EU can mitigate supply risks, investing in research, innovation and skills and protecting the environment by improving circularity and sustainability of critical raw materials.

In terms of international engagement, the Commission says the Act will also diversify the Union’s imports of critical raw materials.

The proposed Regulation will be discussed and agreed by the European Parliament and the Council of the EU before its adoption and entry into force.

President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, commented: “This Act will bring us closer to our climate ambitions. It will significantly improve the refining, processing and recycling of critical raw materials here in Europe.

“Raw materials are vital for manufacturing key technologies for our twin transition – like wind power generation, hydrogen storage or batteries. And we’re strengthening our cooperation with reliable trading partners globally to reduce the EU’s current dependencies on just one or a few countries.

“It’s in our mutual interest to ramp up production in a sustainable manner and at the same time ensure the highest level of diversification of supply chains for our European businesses.”

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