Raw materials: EU wants to ensure supplies of critical raw materials

The EU wants to ensure a reliable and sustainable supply of critical raw materials such as lithium with a new set of regulations.

Raw materials: EU wants to ensure supplies of critical raw materials

The EU wants to ensure a reliable and sustainable supply of critical raw materials such as lithium with a new set of regulations. Representatives of the governments of the member states and the European Parliament agreed on a text for a corresponding regulation on Monday evening. In particular, it is intended to promote the refinement, processing and recycling of critical raw materials in Europe.

"With targeted economic incentives, we create real planning security for private investors - for example through central contact points for companies as well as quick and simple approval procedures with clear deadlines for national authorities," explained Parliament Vice President Nicola Beer (FDP). A framework for strategic raw materials partnerships with third countries will also make the EU an attractive partner in geopolitical competition.

Diversification sought

The rapporteur for the Christian Democratic EPP group, Hildegard Bentele (CDU), called the regulation a “warning shot to China”. Among other things, she pointed out that the raw materials regulation would also stipulate the diversification of supplies.

When presenting its draft regulation last March, the EU Commission declared that critical raw materials were indispensable for a wide range of technologies for climate protection, but also for digital, space and defense. At the same time, however, the supply of the substances is accompanied by increasing geopolitical, ecological and social risks. The EU is dependent on several critical raw materials and often over 90 percent of the EU's needs are covered by a single third country.

As an example, the EU Commission cited rare earths, which are used to build permanent magnets for the motors of wind turbines. According to the authorities, 100 percent of these were refined in China until recently. Another example of a critical raw material is lithium, which is used in batteries for electric vehicles and to store energy. According to the EU, demand for the light metal will probably increase twelvefold by 2030. Silicon, which is needed for the production of microchips, is also extremely relevant.

The agreement must now be confirmed by the Council of Member States and the plenary session of the European Parliament. However, this is considered a formality.

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