The EU is pushing ahead with legislation to ensure a secure and sustainable supply of critical raw materials such as lithium for batteries and rare earth elements, used in electronics.

The Critical Raw Materials Act (CRMA) announced by European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, in September 2022, aims to reduce the EU’s reliance on other countries for the supply of important raw materials. It identifies two lists of materials – 34 critical and 17 strategic – that are crucial for the green and digital transitions, as well as for the defence and space industries.

The legislation sets out ambitious benchmarks for the EU’s annual consumption of raw materials, stating that by 2030, annual consumption will be composed of at least 10% from local extraction, 40% processed in the EU and 25% from recycled materials. It also introduces clear deadlines for permit procedures for EU extraction projects (27 months) and recycling and processing projects (15 months).

Large companies manufacturing key technologies are now expected to conduct risk assessments of their supply chains to identify vulnerabilities and develop mitigation strategies for tackling possible supply disruptions.

The CRMA will now be passed to the president of the European parliament and the president of the European Council for their signatures and will enter into force 20 days later.