Council gives its final approval on the Critical Raw Materials Act

The Critical Raw Materials Act (CRMA), proposed by the European Commission in March 2023, was adopted by the Council one year later, on 18 March 2024, after Parliament’s first reading, marking the last step in the decision-making procedure. Several years ago, the raw materials topic was a subject addressed mainly by a limited list of “connaisseurs”. This story looks completely different today, when we are referring to the Critical raw Materials Act as a strategic file. The quick adoption procedure shows nothing but the need for action translating Europe’s urge to secure a sustainable supply of critical raw materials (CRMs).

Standing at the core of the Green Deal Industrial Plan, together with the Net Zero Industry Act and the Reform of the electricity market design, the CRMA is a flagship initiative with the following specific objectives:

  • To strengthen the EU’s capacities along the different stages of the value chain. The aim would be to ensure that by 2030:
    • The EU extraction capacity covers at least 10 % of the EU’s annual consumption of strategic raw materials.
    • The EU processing capacity covers at least 40 % of the EU’s annual consumption of strategic raw materials.
    • The EU recycling capacity covers at least 25 % of the EU’s annual consumption of strategic raw materials.
  • To diversify the EU’s imports of raw materials: no third country should provide more than 65 % of the EU’s annual consumption (for each strategic raw material).
  • To improve monitoring and risk mitigation capacities and
  • To ensure a well-functioning single market while improving the sustainability and circularity of CRMs.

The bloc further consolidated this timely adoption with a set of complementary regulations and diplomatic initiatives, outlining a clear position ready to reduce reliance on third countries through export restrictions and screening for foreign direct investment across various sectors [e.g. forging strategic agreements with Chile, Greenland, Ukraine, Canada, Rwanda, and more recently Norway and Kazakhstan].

Read the official press release

Echoing the official communication, Jo Brouns, Flemish Minister for Economy, Innovation, Work, Social Economy and Agriculture declared: With the Critical Raw Materials Act we want to turn the challenges of our dependencies into strategic autonomy and an opportunity for our economy. This legislative act will boost our mining sector, enhance our recycling and processing capacities, create local and good quality jobs, and ensure that our industry is up and ready for the digital and green transitions.

The CRMs act establishes a lists of 16 ‘strategic raw materials’ (SRMs) and 34 CRMs. The list of CRMs was prepared by the Commission based on their economic importance and supply risk. SRMs were identified based on their relevance for the green and digital transition, as well as for defence and space applications. Additionally, the act introduces for the first time the concept of “Strategic projects” which would be eligible for streamlined permitting processes and easier access to financing, with provisions aiming to speed up the permit granting process for critical raw material projects.

On 6 May 2024, the Regulation was published in the Official Journal, marking its entry into force.

Download the official document

© visual: European Commission