The Critical Raw Materials Act is intended to make the EU more competitive and autonomous. It will 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.
In their negotiating position ahead of talks with the Council, MEPs highlight the importance of securing strategic partnerships between the EU and third countries on critical raw materials, in order to diversify the EU’s supply, on equal footing, with benefits for all sides. They want 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 want to push for a stronger focus on research and innovation concerning substitute materials and production processes that could replace raw materials in strategic technologies. They want to set 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 course towards European sovereignty and competitiveness has been set. With an overwhelming majority across political groups in today’s vote, the European Parliament has made its position on European security of supply very clear, and takes a strong mandate into negotiations with the Council and the Commission. Our focus is on reducing bureaucracy, fast and simple approval processes, a research and innovation boost along the entire value chain, and targeted economic incentives for private investors with a view to European production and recycling. The European Parliament is focused on building strategic, equal partnerships with third countries.
Parliament will push to conclude the trilogue negotiations by Christmas 2023. We are counting on the urgency and relevance of the secure and sustainable supply of raw materials being as much a concern for member states as it is for us, the people’s representatives.”
The draft legislation was adopted with 515 votes to 34, with 28 abstentions. Parliament will now enter into negotiations with the Spanish presidency of the Council in order to reach a first reading agreement.
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.