What is it?

Global demand for raw materials is rising, in particular in emerging economies. Commodity prices skyrocketed in 2008. In this context the security of access to primary and secondary non-energy raw materials gained an unprecedented political interest.

The political attention paid to natural resources steadily increased since the adoption in 2005 of a Thematic Strategy on the Sustainable Use of Natural Resources which aims at reducing the environmental impacts of resource use in a growing economy. In addition, in April 2007, the Ad Hoc Group 10 of the EC High Level Group (HLG) on Competitiveness, Energy and the Environment was dedicated to Natural Resources, Secondary Raw Materials and Waste. The HLG 4th Report called on the EU and the Member States (MS) to develop a Raw Materials Policy.

The Raw Materials Initiative

On 4 November 2008 a Communication on "The Raw Materials Initiative - Meeting our critical needs for growth and jobs in Europe" was adopted. The communication proposes that the EU develops an integrated raw materials strategy based on three major pillars:

  • Ensure access to raw materials from international markets under the same conditions as other industrial competitors;
  • Set the right framework conditions within the EU in order to foster sustainable supply of raw materials from European sources;
  • Boost overall resource efficiency and promote recycling to reduce the EU’s consumption of primary raw materials and decrease the relative import dependence.
  • The Commission and the different stakeholders are at the moment discussing these points in further detail. One of the main points is the definition of “critical raw materials”, the exchange of best practices, and land use planning. The Council expects a report of the initiative by the end of 2010.