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The European Commission implements the Critical Raw Materials Act and advances international initiatives

The European Commission‘s push to implement the Critical Raw Materials Act (CRMA) underscores the urgent need to address the EU’s heavy reliance on insecure sources of critical raw materials. With demand set to surge due to green and digital transitions, the EU’s dependence on countries like China for materials such as rare earths, gallium, magnesium and boron has raised concerns.

The CRMA, recently adopted, aims to mitigate this risk by setting ambitious targets for 17 strategic raw materials by 2030. These targets include increasing domestic extraction, processing, and recycling, while also diversifying sources of imports. The CRMA introduces policy measures such as identifying strategic projects, offering incentives, and streamlining permitting procedures.

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Implementation of the CRMA will be overseen by the European Commission and a Critical Raw Materials Board, composed of Member State representatives. The Commission is already taking steps to implement joint purchasing provisions, inviting stakeholders to participate in demand aggregation mechanisms.

However, achieving diversification of supply sources poses challenges, given resource concentration and limited extraction opportunities within the EU. Cooperation with third countries is essential, as outlined in Article 37 of the CRMA, with a focus on strategic partnerships to enhance supply chain resilience.

The Commission has initiated partnerships and policy dialogues with various countries to promote sustainable value chains. These agreements aim to facilitate discussions on potential projects and financing arrangements.

While formal agreements, such as the proposed Critical Minerals Agreement with the US, are pending, non-binding initiatives like the Minerals Security Partnership are underway. The EU-US Minerals Security Partnership Forum aims to include resource-supplying countries to bolster critical minerals supply chains.

However, the effectiveness of these arrangements remains to be seen, as funding and intergovernmental cooperation will play crucial roles. Private investment may complement public funding efforts, but challenges such as free rider issues and WTO obligations must be navigated.

In summary, the EU’s efforts to secure critical raw materials through the CRMA and international initiatives reflect a proactive approach to address supply chain vulnerabilities and promote sustainable development.

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