Secure, affordable, reliable and undistorted access to raw materials is essential for industrial competitiveness, innovation, and jobs. Security of supply is less a question of import dependency, but rather of the degree of diversification of suppliers and their reliability, wherever they are located. Well-functioning global markets for raw materials and commodities are essential for an efficient allocation of global resources and to enable technological progress. However, short-term movements in these prices necessitate hedging of substantive risks, while at the same time the rise of the emerging market countries in the world economy has increased global competition for such resources. To address these issues, the Commission notably launched the Raw Materials Initiative in November 2008 and a detailed analysis of the demand and potential scarcity of key raw materials in June 2010. These initiatives have prepared the ground for an EU strategy on raw materials underlining the concept of “added value chain” which will continue to follow the 3- pillar strategy to: (i) ensure a level playing field in access to resources in third countries; (ii) foster sustainable supply of raw materials from European sources, and (iii) reduce consumption of primary raw materials by increasing resource efficiency and promoting recycling. New rules and agreements on sustainable international management and access to raw materials are needed at multilateral level, as well as policy actions to address export restrictions and unjustified constraints on exploration and extraction by third countries, in particular strategic partner countries and Africa. Vigorous application of the EU’s existing competition rules in cases of anti-competitive agreements or market concentration threatening to endanger access to raw materials is also essential. There is also a need to promote mining and processing technologies leading also to resource efficiency, recycling, substitution and the increased use of renewable raw materials to reduce the critical dependence of the EU on primary raw materials, and improve the environmental balance, inter alia through increased use of secondary raw materials (scrap), end of life electronic equipment and vehicles exported to third countries; enforcement of the Waste Shipment Regulation; reuse or recycling of products and materials based on agreed minimum standards. The framework conditions for a sustainable supply and management of raw materials within the EU also need to be addressed through boosting the efficient use of EU’s own resources, recycling and increased substitution. Increased investment in discovery of new EU deposits of raw materials can be promoted through the exchange of best practices in the area of land use and maritime spatial planning and administrative conditions for exploration and extraction, while ensuring sustainability. Promotion of investment in new and more efficient exploration and extractive technologies is also essential. In sectors such as food sector, competitive local sourcing of sustainable raw materials is addressed by EU agricultural policy.

The Commission will  present a Strategy on Raw Materials including proposals on fostering better framework conditions for sustainable supplies of domestic primary raw materials, increased recycling, and finding substitutes for other raw materials (2010).

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