Strengthening Domestic Processing of Critical Raw Materials in EU Countries: A Path to Self-Reliance

Several EU countries are pushing for more ambitious targets for domestic processing of critical raw materials, despite public statements by EU leaders not to “turn inwards” on trade. The EU is aiming to make itself more self-reliant in mining, processing, and recycling a list of 34 critical metals and minerals to shield the bloc from supply chain disruptions and geopolitical risks. The new rules will enable the EU to diversify its sources of imports and increase extraction, processing, and recycling in member states. The Regulation sets clear benchmarks for domestic capacities along the strategic raw material supply chain and to diversify EU supply by 2030. However, the EU cannot rely on domestic measures alone in ensuring supplies of critical raw materials, and it needs to have an international strategy.

The European Commission has identified 34 critical raw materials (CRMs) for the EU, which are subject to a regular review and update. The list of 34 critical raw materials includes lithium, manganese, natural graphite, battery grade nickel, coking coal, phosphorus, platinum group metals, scandium, and silicon metal. The list of 34 critical raw materials is broader than the list of 16 strategic raw materials, which includes battery grade lithium, battery grade manganese, battery grade natural graphite, battery grade nickel, copper, cobalt, magnesium metal, platinum group metals, and silicon metal. The critical raw materials list is based on a screening of supply risk and the economic importance of the materials.

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