The coronavirus pandemic has hit the health of Europe's citizens and its economy hard, notably its industrial production. The European companies in the sectors with high consumption of resources and energy (REIIs) were already in a precarious situation, and are now undergoing this further, unexpected, crisis.
Digital Mining in Europe: New solutions for the sustainable production of raw materials (own-initiative opinion) - Related Opinions
By drawing on CCMI's analytical capacity on industrial change and its shaping in the industrial paradigm, the opinion will focus on the analysis of industrial transformation in a way to make it a Just Transition which is meant as beneficial for all European citizens.
In September 2020, the European Commission presented the Action Plan on Critical Raw Materials, which also contains the 2020 List of Critical Raw Materials.
The European Commission’s first progress report on the implementation of the Strategic Action Plan on Batteries shows that a variety of actions have been launched to develop a significant battery industry in the EU. Although it is far too early to draw definitive conclusions, the EESC supports the initiatives that the Commission has taken and has announced it will take to work with Member States and European industry to break Europe's dependence on non-EU – particularly Asian – countries. There is much to be done in the coming years to achieve the necessary level of technological expertise in the EU, to secure the supply of raw materials from third countries and EU sources and to ensure that batteries can be recycled safely and cleanly. Investing in staff is the joint responsibility for the government and the business community.
European industrial, energy and climate policy is hampered by contradictory requirements on the price for Greenhouse effect Gas (GHG) emissions: on the one hand, high prices would be necessary to incentivise investment and changes in consumption patterns; on the other, the preservation of the external competitiveness of EU energy-intensive industries, as well as the prevention of “carbon leakage”, would require low prices.
The proposed own-initiative report investigates the technical and legal feasibility of Border Adjustment Measures for the internal price of GHG emissions: importers pay the price, exporters get it refunded, as it already is the case for VAT. The refund of the GHG emission price to exporters could be based on a VAT-like accounting system. The GHG emission price paid by importers could be based on the basic metals and materials content of the product. This system would be in line with WTO rules, and rely upon fully proven methodologies.
Just a few days ahead of last December's climate summit COP24 in Poland, the European Commission published its long-term strategy "A clean planet for all" presenting its vision for achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 through a socially-fair transition in a cost-efficient manner. While the document does not contain any new policy proposals, it provides the direction of travel of EU climate and energy policy and frames what the EU considers as its long-term contribution to achieving the Paris Agreement temperature objectives in line with UN Sustainable Development Goals.
The EESC welcomes the Commission document COM(2011) 25 final Tackling the Challenges in Commodity Markets and on Raw Materials and The European raw materials' initiative (RMI) as an important step to tackle this vital issue.
EESC thus urges the EC to monitor the situation in international trade of critical raw materials (as listed in COM(2011) 25 final and with regular updating of this list). In addition, we endorse the need to continue in negotiation at the international level (WTO) to promote free trade also in commodity markets.
The EESC urges a more active foreign policy regarding security of raw materials for EU industry.
The raw material policy must form an integral component of the EU industrial policy.
The EESC thinks that the creation of a strategic stockpile of critical raw materials is among the potential solutions.