On 13 November 2023, the European Parliament and the Council reached a political agreement on a proposal for a Critical Raw Materials Act (CRMA). Critical raw materials are essential for the EU's green transition. However, Europe relies on raw materials that are supplied by several third countries, raising concerns about the security and availability of these rare minerals and metals. The CRMA aims to tackle this problem by encouraging mining and recycling of these materials within the EU, as well as diversifying supply sources using economic incentives and fast-track permits.
The Critical Raw Material Act, along with the Net Zero Industry Act and the reform of the electricity market design are all part of the Green Deal Industrial Plan. The Commission presented this plan on 1 February 2023 and these three proposals were put forward on 16 March (see our previous blog post).
According to the Council press release, some key changes have been made to the Commission’s original proposal:
- Aluminium has been added to the list of strategic raw materials (the CRMA provides different levels of support to “strategic raw materials” and “critical raw materials” projects). Also, in addition to natural graphite (which is already on the list), synthetic graphite has also been included in the list of strategic raw materials for three years. This addition reflects the recent announcement by China to introduce export permits for certain types of graphite (see, for example, here). The Commission will review this list in three years.
- The benchmarks for raw material extraction (10%) and processing (40%) will stay the same, but recycling will increase to at least 25% of the EU’s annual consumption of raw materials. There should also be a substantial rise in recovering raw materials from waste.
- Projects that produce innovative raw materials that replace strategic ones in relevant technologies could also become strategic projects.
- Member States can designate one or more “points of single contact”, at any level (local, regional or national) and at different stages of the value chain (mining, processing, recycling). Strategic projects will have a “relevant administrative unit” in these points of single contact who will help to simplify the permitting process.
- The total duration of the permitting process should not exceed 27 months for extraction projects and 15 months for processing and recycling projects. This time limit does not include the environmental impact assessment report but does include the public consultation.
- Large companies that rely on strategic raw materials for strategic technologies (like battery manufacturers, hydrogen producers, renewable energy generators, data transmission and storage, or aircraft production) will have to carry out risk assessment of their supply chain of strategic raw materials.
The agreed text now needs to be formally approved by both the Parliament and the Council. According to the Parliament press release, it will be voted on by the Industry, Research and Energy Committee on 7 December 2023.
The co-legislators agreed that the Regulation will enter into force 18 months from its publication in the Official Journal of the EU.