The Critical Raw Materials Act is out
The European Commission proposes a regulation to establish a framework for a secure and sustainable supply of critical raw materials
On 16 March, the European Commission, through its Directorate General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship, and SMEs, published the Critical Raw Materials Act, proposing a comprehensive set of actions to ensure a secure, diversified, affordable, and sustainable supply of critical raw materials, that will enable Europe to meet its 2030 climate and digital objectives.
This proposal for a Regulations will strengthen all stages of the European critical raw materials value chain, diversify the EU's imports to reduce strategic dependencies, improve the EU's capacity to monitor and mitigate risks of disruptions to the supply of critical raw materials, and improve circularity and sustainability. The Critical Raw Materials Act comes out alongside the Commission's proposal for a Net Zero Industry Act, which aims to scale up the manufacture of key carbon-neutral technologies for clean energy supply chains.
What sets this Propsal apart? What are some of the main takeaways? For starters, it provides an updated list of critical raw materials, which now includes six more: copper, nickel, arsenic, helium, manganese, and feldspar. The Act also identifies a list of strategic raw materials: those materials crucial for the twin transition and defence and space applications, such as cobalt, copper, lithium, natural graphite, or titanium metal. These two categories sometimes overlap.
Another key aspect of the new Critical Raw Materials Act is that it sets clear benchmarks for domestic capacities to diversify EU supply by 2030, as follows:
- EU countries should be able to extract at least 10% of the EU's annual consumption of strategic raw materials
- EU domestic processing of raw materials should cover at least 40% of the bloc's annual consumption of each strategic raw material
- The recycling capacities of the EU should account for at least 15% of its annual consumption of each critical raw material
Last but not least, the new Critical Raw Materials Act aims to strengthen the uptake and deployment of breakthrough technologies in this sector and it pushes EU member states to develop national programmes for exploring geological resources.
On the same day (16 March), the European Commission also published a non-binding Communication on its plans for a Critical Raw Materials Club. This club would be formed by international, like-minded trade partners, and would counteract China's dominance in CRM supply chains.