CEOC International attended a hearing organised by the European Peoples Party (EPP) at the European Parliament with the aim to illustrate the key points of the new EU Strategy on Raw Materials.
Key-note speakers included EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht, as well as Gwenole Cozigou (Director at DG Enterprise, European Commission).
The overall event was chaired by MEP Daniel Caspary (Committee on International Trade of the EP).
Speakers from BDI, BUSINESSEUROPE, Eurometaux, Fraunhofer Institute, IMA Europe and Umicore spoke about the status quo and future challenges related to the EU’s raw materials policy.
In November 2008, the European Commission proposed to launch a “raw materials initiative — meeting our critical needs for growth and jobs in Europe” and to review the implementation of the raw materials initiative after two years time. A new communication by the European Commission is awaited shortly.
What are the problems and challenges identified since then?
Guy Thiran, Secretary General of Eurometaux, emphasised the increasing importance of recycling and transformation of raw materials. ‘The products of today are the waste of tomorrow’, he reminded, referring to the numerous consumer goods that come to a life end every day.
Adrian Van den Hoven, Director International Relations at Businesseurope, also stressed the recycling problem still existing in Europe and of major importance with view to the rising demand of raw materials in Europe. In addition, he referred to a high demand for new products and materials (such as hybrid cards for example).
Karl-Heinz Florenz (MEP), responsible for the recast of the Electronic Waste Directive, deplored that there is no real harmonised waste and raw materials policy in Europe yet and that harmonised rules would be necessary.
Gwenole Gozigou (European Commission) confirmed that the EC will be closely looking at the recycling and efficient use of raw materials inside the EU, as stated in the EU Raw Materials Initiative from 2008. One focus will be on regulating waste streams and collecting materials systematically.
Carsten Rolle, Managing Director, Energy and Raw Materials at BDI, said that certifying waste process facilities outside the EU would be very important. He also emphasised the need for more R&D with view to efficient use of raw materials.
Luis Tercero, Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research ISI, brought into the discussion the issue of small-quantity materials requiring new technologies. He underlined the importance of integrating the issue of raw materials into research.
Rosalinde Van der Vlies, Head of Unit, DG Environment European Commission, recalled to keep in mind the whole life cycle of a product and to include recyclability criteria in the product cycle. The European Commission will prepare a new strategy for waste prevention and recycling next year. Cars, for example, are recyclable up to 80%.
Michelle Wyart-Remy, Secretary-General IMA Europ, reminded that raw materials are needed everywhere in photovoltaics/ wind industry and that substitutes to presently used materials are often hard to imagine.
Stephan Csoma, Senior Vice-President Government Affairs Umicore, stressed that recycling is not a simple process and requires often highly developed technologies. In the end, it is not only a question of quantity, but also of quality.
Commissioner De Gucht summarized that, indeed, the EU should focus on resource efficiency/ recycling.
Main message: focus on better recycling and new technologies in EU
Raw materials are an essential part of both high tech products and every-day consumer products. European industry needs fair access to raw materials both from within and outside the EU. For certain high tech metals, the EU has a high import dependency and access to these raw materials is getting increasingly difficult. Many resource-rich countries are applying protectionist measures that stop or slow down the export of raw materials to Europe in order to help their downstream industries. Many European producers suffer from such practices. On top of this, some emerging countries are becoming very active in resource-rich countries, particularly in Africa, with the aim of securing a privileged access to raw materials. If Europe does not act now, European industry is put at a competitive disadvantage. In response to this challenge, the European Commission launched today a new integrated strategy which sets out targeted measures to secure and improve the access to raw materials for EU industry.