The European Union is moving forward with legislation aimed at securing a reliable and sustainable supply of critical raw materials crucial for various industries. The draft Critical Raw Materials Act (CRMA), presented by the EU Commission in March 2023, has now received informal approval from the EU Parliament and member states. The official decision, expected to be a formality, awaits a formal vote in the Committee on Industry, Research, and Energy on December 7.
The CRMA focuses on establishing local quotas for the extraction, processing, and recycling of critical raw materials, with the EU Commission proposing targets for 2030. These targets include 10% from local extraction, 40% from processing, and 15% from recycling. Additionally, the legislation aims to limit the EU's reliance on a single third country, ensuring that no more than 65% of its annual demand for a strategic raw material comes from a single source by 2030.
While both the EU Parliament and member states support these regulations, they advocate raising the recycling target for 2030 from 15% to 25%. The emphasis is on fostering resource efficiency, technological progress, and innovation in substitute materials and production processes.
Key measures within the CRMA include the consideration of strategic raw material projects as projects of public interest, enabling accelerated approval timelines. Strategic mining projects are expected to be approved within 24 months, while projects in the processing and recycling sector may receive approval within 12 months.
The legislation also proposes the introduction of monitoring for critical raw material supply chains, coordination of strategic raw material stocks among member states, and mandatory reviews of strategic raw material supply chains for large companies. These initiatives align with broader European efforts, including the upcoming European supply chain law and the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive.
Critical raw materials, essential for digitalization, renewable energy expansion, and the transition to sustainable transportation, have become a focal point for various industries. The CRMA seeks to address the increasing demand for these materials and reduce the EU's dependence on a single source, particularly China.
The international landscape for critical raw materials is marked by competition and protectionism, with countries worldwide seeking to secure their access to these essential resources. The CRMA reflects the EU's commitment to fostering a competitive and sovereign environment while advancing sustainability and resource efficiency.
MEP Nicola Beer (Renew) highlighted the agreement as an “industrial policy blueprint” for ensuring a secure and sustainable supply of raw materials in Europe. The legislation aims to provide economic incentives, project-planning certainty for private investors, and streamlined authorization procedures to boost mining, processing, and recycling within the EU.