European Union prepares to unveil Critical Raw Materials Act

January 25, 2023

The European Union is set to unveil its Critical Raw Materials Act in March and Commissioner Thierry Breton is looking for more funding from financiers for suppliers of minerals needed for the energy transition.

Reuters reported that Breton told a roundtable of European banks including Société Générale, Deutsche Bank and Santander Group the EU must secure the bloc’s supply of critical raw materials including lithium, cobalt, nickel, manganese and graphite needed for electric vehicles.
He highlighted two major issues. The first is over-reliance on countries such as major producer China for materials such as magnesium used in electronics, cars and machinery. The second is the expected “colossal” increase in demand.

The EU’s dependency as become a critical issue following the soaring energy prices that have resulted from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“I want you to invest in operations in the critical raw materials value chain,” Breton told the roundtable, according to a transcript of his remarks seen by Reuters.

“Sometimes you faced challenges: here in Europe, because of local opposition, long procedures or lack of economic case; or in the rest of the world, where you may be accused of supporting projects with low environmental and social standards,” he added, addressing the room at Brussels’ Berlaymont hotel.

Having to coordinate legislation across 27 members, the bloc is lagging other Western countries, such as the United States and Canada, which have already introduced bills to secure clean energy and energy transition materials.

The head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said last week the EU was making available a European Sovereignty Fund to keep firms from moving to the United States.

According to a report from Bloomberg, Eurometaux — which represents major European producers including Glencore Plc, Boliden AB, and Aurubis AG — urged the EU to take inspiration from President Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, which includes billions of dollars of subsidies to spur domestic investment in electric vehicles and renewable energy.

EU leaders are set to meet in Brussels on next month to discuss a response to the controversial US act, with some pushing for a “made in Europe” approach to help bolster domestic companies. French President Emmanuel Macron called for an EU package amounting to 2 percent of its economic output to rival the $370 billion U.S. plan.

“The US Inflation Reduction Act, while discriminatory, has shown what a proactive clean tech industrial policy could look like,” Evangelos

Mytilineos, president of Eurometaux and CEO of Greek aluminum company Mytilineos, said in a letter to the European Commission. “We in Europe should be inspired by its example, and deliver more carrot and less stick to our industries, especially in today’s energy crisis.”



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