Europe needs a holistic policy for raw materials

April 28, 2022 |

Europe’s ambitious shift towards a sustainable and digital society hinges on a strategic approach to securing raw materials vital for manufacturing chips, electric vehicles, and renewable energy technologies, warns EU’s internal market Commissioner Thierry Breton.

Rising Demand for Raw Materials

A study by Belgium’s Katholieke Universiteit emphasizes a substantial surge in raw material usage to achieve Europe’s climate goals. However, challenges arise as coal-powered Chinese and Indonesian metal production currently dominate crucial refining processes.

Critical Raw Materials Act

Complicating matters further is Europe’s reliance on Russia for essential resources like aluminum, nickel, and copper. The European Commission contemplates a legislative act to address vulnerabilities in critical raw material supply. Julia Poliscanova, from Transport and Environment, stresses the act’s necessity and underscores the importance of a sustainability-focused approach.

Domestic Mining Potential

The study suggests a theoretical capacity for new domestic mines to cover 5-55% of Europe’s 2030 raw material needs. However, opening these mines requires a shift in mindset, even as they promise job creation, particularly in regions transitioning away from coal mining.


Looking beyond 2035-2040, the study underscores the role of recycling in meeting Europe’s raw material needs. With innovation, 40-75% of Europe’s clean energy metal requirements could be met through local recycling by 2050, provided significant investment addresses current bottlenecks.

Ensuring Sustainability and Diversity

The EU faces a critical juncture in ensuring the availability of raw materials. Without proactive measures, the sustainability of production and the diversity of the supply chain remain uncertain, potentially compromising Europe’s strategic position.


In charting its course towards a sustainable future, Europe must confront the raw material challenge head-on. Striking a delicate balance between domestic mining, robust recycling initiatives, and thoughtful legislative acts is imperative for securing a stable, diverse, and sustainable supply chain in the years to come.



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