Majority of MEPs give their backing to a “desperate plunder for resources”
Damaging plans to secure EU access to raw materials around the world have been given the European Parliament seal of approval today.
A majority of the European Parliament voted to approve a new opinion report on the European Commission’s Critical Raw Materials Strategy which seeks to secure the EU’s continued extraction and overconsumption of raw materials.
The Strategy, published in September 2020, outlines plans to access a set of 30 ‘critical’ raw materials, that the European Commission deems to be of economic importance while having supply challenges. These are mostly metals and minerals, such as lithium, cobalt and rare earth elements, found in everyday products, including electronics, renewable energy generation, and e-mobility. The Parliament’s opinion was formed over the past months, in a process led by EPP MEP Hildegard Bentele, and was adopted in the vote today.
Meadhbh Bolger, Resource Justice Campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe said:
MEPs have backed and, in some parts, even worsened destructive plans for an EU plunder for raw materials, which will inevitably lead to an increase in mining both in Europe and outside. This means more extraction beyond ecological limits, more exploitation of communities and their land, and more toxic trade deals.
“Law-makers need to first and foremost aim at demand reduction in the EU through a binding target to cut material use by two-thirds. Reducing demand for raw materials is the best way to reduce mining and related harms.”
The Parliament’s opinion report overall maintains the damaging assertion that the EU can and should continue to exploit other countries’, and its own, nature and communities to meet unsustainable material and energy demand.
Concerningly, most MEPs, voted to:
- Allow mining to continue in protected areas, including Natura2000 areas despite their overall poor conservation status.
- Gift industry further influence over policy-making, with encouragement to further develop the industry-driven European Raw Materials Alliance.
- Boost unfair trade rules – ensuring market access for European investors to exploit raw materials in Global South countries, whilst preventing export restrictions that allow developing countries to process materials themselves instead of only being exporters of raw materials, thus limiting the potential of states to diversify their economies.
More positive points
More positively, the Parliament did vote for amendments to:
- Agree that the EU’s transition to climate neutrality – which many of these materials are needed for – should not replace reliance on fossil fuels with reliance on these raw materials.
- Stress the role of the ‘minimisation of resource consumption’. This is of critical importance given that the EU consumes more than double a fair and sustainable share of materials and energy, with serious consequences.
- Recognise the rights of affected communities, a positive step towards communities’ ‘Right to Say No’ to mining.
The vote indicates the Parliament’s opinion and will provide input to the European Commission for it to take forward the Strategy.
Meadhbh Bolger added:
“Nature and communities are on the frontlines of these plans for extraction and exploitation in a frantic search for ways to continue the EU economic growth model, yet be more ‘green’. Communities outside of the EU, where the EU still sources almost all of these materials, will continue to suffer at the hands of overconsumption and unfair trade rules.”