Critical Raw Materials Resilience: Charting a Path towards greater Security and Sustainability

EESC opinion: Critical Raw Materials Resilience: Charting a Path towards greater Security and Sustainability

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 Action Plan has 4 main aims:

  • developing resilient value chains for EU industrial ecosystems;
  • reducing dependency on primary critical raw materials through circular use of re-sources, sustainable products and innovation;
  • strengthening domestic sourcing of raw materials in the EU;
  • diversifying sourcing from third countries and removing distortions to international trade, fully respecting the EU's international obligations.

These aims are pursued by means of 10 concrete engagements that the Commission will pursue in the short-, medium- and long-term:

  • Establish a European Raw Materials Alliance
  • Develop sustainable financing criteria for the mining, extractive and processing sectors
  • Launch critical raw materials research and innovation on waste processing, advanced materials and substitution
  • Map the potential supply of secondary critical raw materials from EU stocks and wastes and identify viable recovery projects by 2022
  • Identify mining and processing projects in the EU that can be operational by 2025
  • Develop expertise and skills in mining, extraction and processing technologies in regions in transition
  • Use earth-observation programme Copernicus to improve resource exploration, operations and post-closure environmental management
  • Develop Horizon Europe R&I projects on processes for exploitation and processing of critical raw materials
  • Develop strategic international partnerships and associated funding to secure a diversified and sustainable supply of critical raw materials
  • Promote responsible mining practices for critical raw materials through the EU regulatory framework and international cooperation

With regard to the List of Critical Raw Materials, the update which is based on the changed economic importance and supply challenges based on industrial application, now contains in total 30 critical raw materials. Compared to the previous list bauxite, lithium, titanium and strontium have been added, while helium has been removed