The European Commission has launched a fresh attempt at securing access to minerals like lithium and rare earth elements, saying those will be critical to underpin Europe’s growth in digital and green industries.
Last month, the EU executive launched a strategy to develop a full value-chain for raw materials in Europe – ranging from extraction to processing and waste recovery.
In this special report, EURACTIV looks at Europe’s renewed drive for “strategic autonomy” on critical raw materials.
When the flu pandemic hit Europe and disrupted global supply chains this year, the EU came to a sobering realisation – it cannot continue relying solely on imports for raw materials like lithium and rare earths which are critical for the bloc’s digital and green industries.
The European Union “cannot achieve” climate neutrality without critical raw materials like lithium and rare earths, says Commission vice-president Maroš Šefčovič. It now needs to be “much more strategic” in relations with supplier countries in order to ensure the bloc's “strategic autonomy,” he argues.
While Europe is rapidly catching up with China on investments into batteries for electric cars, it is still lagging behind when it comes to securing supplies of the critical raw materials that are needed to produce them.
Access to affordable energy is a key factor underpinning the competitiveness of European industries. But as the green transition gains momentum, pressure is building to put a higher price signal on energy and CO2 emissions, leaving regulators in a quandary.
There is no doubt that 2020 has been and for the time being will continue to be an enormous testing period for Europe, its industry and especially its citizens.
Roman Stiftner is the Secretary General of EUMICON.
As one reflects on these …