On March 16th, the European Commission unveiled a new Critical Raw Materials Act to ensure EU access to a secure and sustainable supply of critical raw materials (CRM).
The legislation aims to reduce EU dependence on third countries -and enhance its economic resilience- setting targets for the in-house production, refining and recycling of these materials, crucial for the green and digital transitions as well as the net zero industry, the digital industry, aerospace, and defence sectors.
This will be done mainly through:
- Setting clear priorities for action: The Regulation embeds both the critical and strategic raw materials lists in EU law. By 2030 the EU should have the following capacities:
- At least 10% of the EU’s annual consumption for extraction,
- At least 40% of the EU’s annual consumption for processing,
- At least 15% of the EU’s annual consumption for recycling,
- Not more than 65% of the Union’s annual consumption of each strategic raw material at any relevant stage of processing from a single third country.
- Creating secure and resilient EU critical raw materials supply chains: The Act will reduce the administrative burden for EU CRM projects. Member States will have to develop national programmes for exploring geological resources.
- Ensuring that the EU can mitigate supply risks.
- Investing in research, innovation and skills.
- Protecting the environment by improving circularity and sustainability of critical raw materials.
- Member States will need to adopt and implement national measures to improve the collection of CRM-rich waste and ensure its recycling into secondary critical raw materials.
- Diversifying the Union’s imports of critical raw materials: The EU will never be self-sufficient in supplying such raw materials, thus will need to strengthen its global engagement with reliable partners.
- The EU will step up trade actions.
- It will further develop Strategic partnerships.
The proposed Regulation will be discussed and agreed by the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union before its adoption and entry into force.
As stated in the European Comission press release, President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen said: “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.”