Members of the European Parliament highlight Europe’s dependence on critical resources for the twin transition

On 24 November 2021, Members of the European Parliament voted for the adoption of the Critical Raw Materials report put forward by MEP Hildegard Bentele. Under the new proposal, the EU strategy will boost strategic autonomy and resilience in the supply of Critical Raw Materials (CRMs).

Critical raw materials are vital in high technology applications for automotive, renewable energy, defence and aerospace. Securing a sustainable supply of CRMs is fundamental for Europe’s transition towards a green, digital and circular economy.

We have now a consistent and ambitious package that tackles the urgency of stable and sustainable critical raw materials supply chains while at the same time ensuring Europe’s competitiveness and jobs. All forecasts predict a higher demand for critical raw materials due to the twin transition. We, therefore, pledge to enhance our efforts to make full use of the circular economy, but since recycling effects will kick in only in a mid- to long-term perspective, we also ask to increase sustainable sourcing.

Hildegard Bentele, Member of the European Parliament

A strong emphasis was made on enhancing both primary and secondary markets of critical raw materials as well as on securing investments in the sector in general. The European Commission was urged to ensure that CRM policies are part of national resilience and recovery plans under NextGenerationEU, that investments in recycling capacities are being made, that new finance instrument with regard to risk sharing are promoted, that former coal mining regions are targeted. Member States will play a vital role in the implementation of the report, especially with regard to speeding up permitting procedures while guaranteeing environmental and social standards. Since Member States are conducting till today independent CRM policies, it is pointed out that more coordination at EU level is needed to monitor the CRM situation.

Hildegard Bentele called for increasing domestic sourcing, the need to diversify supply chains and boosting recyclingefforts in the EU. Europe’s dependence on strategic mineral resources poses geopolitical pressure. Hildegard Bentele considers that one of the prerequisites of strengthening domestic sourcing is a political framework that will enable responsible mining as well as raising awareness and sharing best practices for sustainable sourcing in Europe. 

The European Commission and the Member States were urged to create an Important Project of Common European Interest (IPCEI) on Critical Raw Materials to strategically and sustainably plan for demand for the twin transition, covering requirements, sources of supply and (social, environmental and financial) costs. The IPCEI should cover all the relevant topics to reduce criticality and dependence, such as recycling, reuse, substitution, reduction of material use and mining. IPCEI projects will help unlock the unfulfilled potential in CRM-rich EU countries that have large untapped sources and contribute to Europe’s open strategic autonomy and resilience.

The role of ERMA in Europe’s resilience and open strategic autonomy

As the demand for critical raw materials is growing, the European Raw Materials Alliance (ERMA) is addressing the main challenges connected to raw materials supply for Europe. ERMA was established to address the challenge of securing access to sustainable raw materials, advanced materials, and industrial processing know-how for EU industrial ecosystems.

ERMA supports the adoption of the report on Critical Raw Materials by Hildegard Bentele. Our vision to diversify Europe’s supply chains, create jobs, attract investments and enable the best framework for raw materials and the circular economy are well aligned with the strategic scope of the European Parliament. 

The new report welcomes the creation of ERMA. In the light of the global geopolitical situation and high dependence on producers from rich non-EU countries, ERMA’s current focus on the most Critical Raw Materials, such as rare earth elements and magnets, will support the long-term supply relationships for a huge range of small and large manufacturers in the EU and reduce the current reliance on a few non-EU countries.

The European Raw Materials Alliance must be further strengthened, its projects in the field of permanent magnets now need to be implemented, and new initiatives in the area of storage and recycling need to be supported.

Hildegard Bentele, Member of the European Parliament

On 30 September, ERMA issued an Action Plan “Rare Earth Magnets and Motors: A European Call for Action”, which highlights the challenges related to the highly vulnerable global rare earth supply chain and provides specific actions that the EU, its Member States, industry, and innovation communities should implement to diversify EU supply chains.

Among the next steps for ERMA is the development of a new action plan on Materials for Energy Storage and Conversion. The work is already ongoing under the second ERMA Cluster with a comprehensive outlook on the supply chains for green energy technologies (fuel cells and electrolysers, battery materials, alternative energy storage and conversion, materials in solar energy).

The report on Critical Raw Materials underlines ERMA’s role as an ‘investment pipeline’ and supports this initiative as a great tool to unlock public and private investments for environmentally assessed and sustainable projects on Critical Raw Materials. ERMA has recently announced its plans to enable high standards in sustainability by establishing a raw materials investment fund planned to be launched in 2022.

To date, ERMA’s ecosystem comprises 600 partners from universities, RTOs, trade unions, NGOs, national authorities and ministries, financial institutions, associations and industry. The new report highlighted the importance of engaging a vast network of stakeholders in the area of Critical Raw Materials. Moreover, the Alliance wants to consolidate ERMA’s role, international impact and visibility. ERMA will work closely with the European Commission and DG GROW to target specific parts of the world that are important in their strategic development agenda, such as Australia, Canada, Ukraine and the United States.

ERMA welcomes new partners to work closely on CRM projects and contribute to Europe’s open strategic autonomy in the most critical and vital supply chains. If you have a project related to Critical Raw Materials and are looking for investment, we encourage you to check our investment channel and submit your project proposal here.

Learn more about ERMA