Based on the EU Trio-Program (France-Czech Republic-Sweden) the French EU Presidency has started with an ambitious programme “Recovery, Strength and a Sense of Belonging” and a very promising EU initiative to strengthen and secure the supply of mineral raw materials for value chains.
The informal Competitiveness Council in Lens on 1st February discussed raw materials and the role that the Member States and the Commission can play. Philippe Varin, President of the Board of Suez & Chairman of the World Materials Forum presented the broad issues of raw materials and the recommendations of his mission, particularly those related to the European dimension. This was followed by 3 workshops on “Producing raw materials in Europe“, Workshop 2 “Sourcing Outside Europe” and Workshop 3 “Recycling, Innovating, Doing Without“.
Euromines together with Eurometaux sent recommendations to the French Economic Minister and suggested 5 key priorities to secure Europe’s raw materials supply and to strengthen Europe’s resilience:
- Establish an Important Projects of Common European Interest (IPCEI) for key raw materials where market failures need to be addressed
- Launch a European Raw Materials Investment fund to finance mining, refining, and recycling projects for supplying the European market (e.g. EUR 10bn, including 5bn state aid & 5bn equity)
- Take measures to ensure responsible raw materials sourcing
- Ensure a level playing field and strong business case for European producers
- Take measures to secure a global supply of metals and minerals where local sources are not sufficient
The ministers at the informal COMPET Council on 1st February 2022 agreed on the following:
- Need to take urgent action towards securing our supply of raw materials;
- Secure extra-European supply sources for raw materials, through e.g. “strategic partnerships” such as the ones with Ukraine and Canada, or by developing strategic storage policies;
- Need to secure extra-European supply sources for raw materials, through e.g. “strategic partnerships” such as the ones with Ukraine and Canada, or by developing strategic storage policies;
- Promote role of circular economy and innovation to reduce European dependencies, highlighting that “significant investments” are needed;
- Foster and strengthen domestic capacities to produce raw materials and notably discussed our joint Eurometaux/Euromines proposal to create a dedicated Important Projects of Common European Interest (IPCEI);
- Creation of a fund securing the supply of critical raw materials, comparable to the newly launched fund for sustainable battery materials (€400 million) as part of the European Battery Alliance.
As stated by Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton: “We have three key tools at our disposal: investment, strategic partnership and legislation. We will employ each of them to strengthen the resilience of our supply chains and to increase our production capacity.”
Agnès Pannier-Runacher, Minister Delegate for Industry, attached to the Minister of the Economy, Finance and the Recovery highlighted: “Our industries still remain too reliant upon supply chains outside of Europe for critical metals. As these resources are limited and global competition is fierce, this is a key time to secure our supply of mineral resources that are vital to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.”
Commission has a mandate to come forward with concrete proposals.