Today, the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) of the European Parliament adopted with 53 votes in favour, 1 against and 5 abstentions its position on the Critical Raw Materials Act (CRMA).
Henrike Hahn, member of the European Parliament (The Greens/EFA), industrial policy speaker for the German Greens in the European Parliament, member of the Industry Committee and the Green Shadow Rapporteur on the Critical Raw Materials Act comments:
"The EU Critical Raw Materials Act is a key part of the regulatory pillar of the Green Deal Industrial Plan, reacting to the US Inflation Reduction Act and other public interventions fuelling the 'clean tech race'. It is thus a crucial proposal for guaranteeing the EU's strategic autonomy.
Europe needs a stable supply of key Raw Materials for its green transition. Materials such as Lithium and Rare Earths are indispensable for key products of Europe's green and digital future such as solar panels, windmills, electric cars, and computer chips. At the same time, the EU needs to avoid replacing fossil fuel dependencies with new dependencies on these materials as it transforms its economy and makes it fit for the future.
We as Greens/EFA therefore welcome several important provisions of the compromise achieved today.
In particular, we welcome the provisions aimed at circularity of all critical raw materials in our economy. I am satisfied that based on our Green amendments, we have improved the recycling benchmark by changing the approach and referring to a Union recycling capacity in proportion of all Strategic Raw Materials contained in waste. We propose a capacity target of being able to recycle 45% of each Strategic Raw Material contained in the Union’s waste. This is a point that is very important to me personally, and I hope we will be able to achieve support for it in the trilogue.
Another priority of mine was that we managed to achieve was to introduce a benchmark for the mitigation of increased future demand of Critical Raw Materials, so that the Union consumes less Critical Raw Materials than predicted in a reference scenario. Additionally, we have also agreed to introduce the mitigation of increased consumption of Critical Raw Materials in the national programmes for circularity.
We need to focus on resource efficiency and circular economy in the future - this is an important point for a European green raw materials strategy.
Furthermore, we have also introduced some safeguards and limits in relation with the Strategic Projects in protected areas: The necessary demonstration of a tangible link with the public interest for Strategic Projects related to extraction and the principle that the Commission shall not recognise a project of refining or recycling in a protected area as a strategic project, unless duly justified.
We Greens support mining in Europe, nevertheless mining for critical raw materials in protected areas must remain a taboo. It is clear that mining must always take place under the highest possible ecological and social criteria and Natura 2000 areas are certainly not the explicitly desired setting for this.
Another point that from the beginning was very important was referred to the rights to the local and affected communities, in particular indigenous peoples. Here as well we have managed to improve slightly the provisions to ensure the meaningful involvement and active participation of affected communities although at this stage of the negotiations it has been impossible to make explicit reference to ILO 169 or to FPIC due to fierce opposition from the EPP mainly.
In some aspects, the compromise is not as ambitious as I would have liked. What remains important as well is the following: We must protect incipient raw material value chains from unfair competition. The acceleration of approval procedures must not lead to environmental and social standards being undermined.
The CRMA should help diversify and secure the supply of critical raw materials that we urgently need for green technologies and in the space and defence sectors in Europe. The Industry Committee's draft puts this on a good track.”
Briefing for the vote in ITRE Committee on 07/09/2023
The EU Critical Raw Materials Act has been adopted in a single vote on a single compromise covering the entire proposal by the ITRE Committee on Thursday 7th of September with 53 votes in favour, 5 abstentions and 1 against.
It aims to ensure the EU's access to a secure, diversified, affordable and sustainable supply of critical raw materials. Critical raw materials are indispensable for a wide set of strategic sectors including the net zero industry, the digital industry, aerospace, and defence sectors.
Overall, the text improves the Commission proposal on a number of important points:
· Improving the recycling benchmark by changing the approach and referring to a Union recycling capacity in proportion of Strategic Raw Materials contained in waste (a capacity able to recycle at least 45% of SRM contained in waste)
· Introducing a benchmark for the mitigation of increased demand of Critical Raw Materials, so that the Union consumes less CRM than according to a reference scenario and introducing the mitigation of increased consumption of CRM in the national programmes for circularity
· Introducing safeguards / limits in relation with the Strategic Projects in protected areas through the mandatory demonstration of a tangible link with the public interest for Strategic Projects related to extraction (Article 6), and the principle that the Commission shall not recognise a project of refining or recycling in a protected area as a strategic project, "unless duly justified"
· Slightly improving the provisions concerning local and affected communities, in particular indigenous peoples, and public participation
Originally proposed by the Commission 16 March 2023, Council already endorsed its negotiation mandate on 30 June 2023. As such, the Critical Raw Materials Act should enter into interinstitutional negotiations swiftly after the plenary vote on the Parliament's position, which is foreseen for Thursday, 14th of September.