Raw Materials Initiative

In November 2008 the European Commission published its new Communication “The raw materials initiative — meeting our critical needs for growth and jobs in Europe”.

Following its previous analysis of the competitiveness of the sector DG Enterprise and the political and economic developments around the world at the beginning of 2008 the EU realized that it needed to address this very important issue at highest level in order ensure security of raw material supply for its economic growth.

The industry of course welcomed this Initiative whole heartedly since in the past years a whole array of legislative measures and the lack of public awareness in Europe had made access to raw materials for the extractive industry as well as for the downstream industry more and more difficult and at the best of times time consuming.

Raw materials are essential for the sustainable functioning of all societies, equally so for the EU. Securing reliable and undistorted access to raw materials is increasingly becoming an important factor for the EU’s competitiveness and, hence, crucial to the success of the Lisbon Partnership for growth and jobs. Hence three policy areas were identified:

  1. Access to raw materials on world markets at undistorted conditions.
  2. Sustainable supply of raw materials from European sources.
  3. Increase of resource efficiency and promotion of recycling.

As had been laid out in the Commission’s report on the competitiveness of the sector the issues of access to these resources were manifold and varied from sub-sector to sub-sector.

Although some, not all EU Member States were and are pursuing specific policies, there had so far been no integrated policy response at EU to secure sufficient access to raw materials at competitive prices. The Commission therefore proposed in its Communication that the EU should agree on an integrated raw materials strategy. The whole Communication has three main chapters: 1. Analysis of supply and demand of non-energy raw materials; 2. The policy response: An integrated strategy and 3. The way forward.

Did you know?

Beyond the high-tech sectors, European industry relies on a wide range of raw materials, including 'traditional' metals such as copper, aluminium and iron, minerals such as potash, silica and salt, and aggregates - sand, gravel, cement - used in construction. Almost 14% of jobs in the EU are in businesses which depend on mineral raw materials, and a similar proportion of EU gross domestic product is generated by these same businesses.