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Critical raw material act: Council adopts negotiating position

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The Council has today adopted its position (‘negotiating mandate’) on the proposed regulation establishing a framework to ensure a secure and sustainable supply of critical raw materials, better known as the
Critical Raw Materials Act.

This regulation harnesses the strengths of both the Single Market and partnerships to diversify critical raw material supply chains, which currently rely on imports from a handful of third countries.

The Council position raises the level of ambition for recycled and processed raw materials, reinforces sustainability criteria, adapts the process of granting permits and explores obligations on the member states to ensure account is taken of their different situations.

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When it comes to raw materials, Europe’s destiny is mainly in the hands of a few third countries. With the Raw Materials Act, we want to recover our autonomy in a truly European way: extracting our minerals sustainably; recycling as much as we can and working in partnership with like-minded third countries to promote their development and sustainability, while ensuring our supply chains, Ebba Busch, Swedish Minister for Energy, Business and Industry and Deputy Prime Minister.

Ensuring supply from home and abroad

The proposed regulation explores the issue’s internal and external dimensions to ensure the supply of raw materials that are critical for our economy, and in particular for the green and digital transitions. The Commission proposal established four objectives to increase the contribution of European raw materials:

at least 10% of the EU’s annual consumption to come from EU extraction

at least 40% of the EU’s annual consumption to come from EU processing

at least 15% of the EU’s annual consumption to come from domestic recycling

not more than 65% of the Union’s annual consumption of each strategic raw material at any relevant stage of processing to come from a single third country

To achieve these objectives, the regulation establishes a list of 34 critical raw materials, including 16 that are also considered of strategic importance, and several measures to reduce the risks of our current dependencies. These measures include simplifying permit procedures for projects that are considered strategic, with national designated contact points, risk analysis, member states’ exploration plans, investment in research, innovation and skills and protecting the environment by promoting the circularity and sustainability of raw materials.

On the global stage, the regulation identifies measures to diversify imports of critical raw materials. These include strengthening engagement and creating partnerships with reliable countries to promote their development, while ensuring supply chains for Europe.

The regulation establishes the creation of an advisory body, the European Critical Raw Materials Board, to advise the Commission on the selection of strategic projects and other aspects of the regulation.

Council position

While the Council shares the objectives of the Commission’s proposal, it proposes a number of improvements to take account of the different situations faced by member states. In particular, it

raises the level of ambition for processing and recycling capacity: from 40 to 50% for processing and from 15 to 20% for recycling

adds Bauxite/Alumina/Aluminium as strategic raw and critical materials.

calls for a more frequent update of the list of critical and strategic raw materials (at least every three years, instead of every four years)

reinforces national measures on sustainability and circularity, such as:

increasing the re-use of products with high potential for recovering raw materials

incentivising the recovery of secondary critical raw materials from waste

identifying extractive waste facilities where secondary raw materials can be recovered

promoting magnet recovery from products at their life-end

showing due regard for the different administrative systems of each country, it allows member states to designate one or several contact points (for instance in the regions). However, member states should help project promoters to identify the designated contact points on an ad-hoc web site

facilitates permit procedures for strategic projects

excludes member states that do not have relevant geological conditions, and which provide evidence of this, from the obligation to conduct national exploration programmes

ensures the smooth operation of the internal market through stricter monitoring obligations concerning competition and the free movement of raw materials

lastly, clarifies the roles of the Critical Raw Materials Board, bringing it more closely in line with other similar bodies (i.e. the Chips Act Board). It also creates a sub-group within the board to discuss issues related to public knowledge and acceptance of critical raw materials projects and another to discuss measures to promote the circularity, resource efficiency and substitution of critical raw materials

Next steps

The mandate agreed today formalises the Council’s negotiating position. It provides the Council presidency with a mandate for negotiations with the European Parliament, which will start as soon as the Parliament adopts its own position.

 

Source: European Council

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