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Commission reveals plans to make Europe's raw materials supply more secure and sustainable

The European Commission (EC) has unveiled an Action Plan on Critical Raw Materials and a foresight study on critical raw materials for strategic technologies and sectors from the 2030 and 2050 perspectives.

The action plan looks at the current and future challenges and proposes actions to reduce Europe's dependency on third countries, diversifying supply from both primary and secondary sources and improving resource efficiency and circularity while promoting responsible sourcing worldwide.

The actions aim to support the European Union's (EU) transition towards a green and digital economy, and at the same time, bolster Europe's resilience and open strategic autonomy in key technologies needed for such transition.

The list of 30 critical raw materials, included in the action plan, has been updated to reflect the changed economic importance and supply challenges based on their industrial application. Lithium, which is essential for a shift to e-mobility, has been added to the list for the first time.

Maroš Šefčovič, Vice-President for Interinstitutional Relations and Foresight said: "A secure and sustainable supply of raw materials is a prerequisite for a resilient economy.

"For e-car batteries and energy storage alone, Europe will, for instance, need up to 18 times more lithium by 2030 and up to 60 times more by 2050.

"As our foresight shows, we cannot allow to replace current reliance on fossil fuels with dependency on critical raw materials. This has been magnified by the coronavirus disruptions in our strategic value chains.

"We will therefore build a strong alliance to collectively shift from high dependency to diversified, sustainable and socially-responsible sourcing, circularity and innovation."

Thierry Breton, Commissioner for Internal Market said: "A number of raw materials are essential for Europe to lead the green and digital transition and remain the world's first industrial continent. We cannot afford to rely entirely on third countries – for some rare earths even on just one country.

"By diversifying the supply from third countries and developing the EU's own capacity for extraction, processing, recycling, refining and separation of rare earths, we can become more resilient and sustainable.

"Implementing the actions that we propose will require a concerted effort by industry, civil society, regions and Member States. We encourage the latter to include investments into critical raw materials into their national recovery plans."

Read more here.

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