By Philip Blenkinsop
BRUSSELS, March 16 (Reuters) – The European Commission presented one of the centrepieces of its strategy on Thursday to ensure its industry can compete with the United States and China in making clean tech products and accessing raw materials required for the green transition.
The EU executive’s Net-Zero Industry Act and Critical Raw Materials Act, part of its Green Deal Industrial Plan, are designed to ensure the bloc is not just a frontrunner in cutting carbon emissions, but also ahead on the technology required to do so. There are signs it is lagging.
Global investment in the green transition is set to triple by 2030 from $1 trillion last year, President Ursula von der Leyen told the European Parliament on Wednesday, declaring “the race is on”.
The EU executive set targets for the region to mine 10% of the critical raw materials such as lithium, cobalt and rare earths it consumes, with recycling adding a further 15%, and increase processing to 40% of its needs by 2030.
The supply of minerals vital for the green transition is a challenge, with China processing almost 90% of rare earths and 60% of lithium, a key element for batteries.
The Commission said no more than 65% of any key raw material should come from a single third country.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has reinforced a lesson learned during the COVID-19 pandemic, namely that the EU cannot rely on a single supplier for essential materials.
The EU executive would recognise firm plans to mine or process raw materials as “strategic projects”, which could benefit from streamlined permits and access to financing.
In trade, the EU would seek to expand its network of raw materials partnerships and free trade agreements, such as with Australia, Canada and Chile, and forge a global raw materials alliance.
The EU is also due to set a target of producing at least 40% of the clean tech products it needs by 2030, partly by streamlining the granting of permits for green projects and by fostering investment.
The Commission will propose simpler state aid schemes, allowing subsidies to promote green technology, with the possibility of offering tax breaks using existing EU funds.
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