An effective raw materials strategy for Europe
Mobile phones, computers and solar panels have in common that they cannot be produced without rare earths.
European producers need certain raw materials to produce technical appliances.
This was the consideration that prompted the European Commission to propose a strategy for ensuring that these raw materials remain readily available on a sustainable basis.
The Commission's strategy aims to secure access to these materials under the same conditions as apply to the USA or China.
At the same time, the Commission believes that the EU should explore the extent to which it can cover its own demand for such raw materials and sees recycling as a way of supplementing its strategy.
What was the Greens' position?
The Greens believe that re-use, resource efficiency, recycling and substitution should be the top priorities of a sustainable raw materials strategy. Tons of precious metals are lost every year because today's recycling policies and facilities are inadequate.
The EU should also explore its own resources.
We Greens are concerned about resource extraction in non-EU Member States, many of which are developing countries where such mining may trigger or fuel civil war, cause serious damage to the environment and be misused to support corruption and child labour.
In addition we believe that raw materials markets should be made more transparent and less speculative.
Did other MEPs accept the Greens' position?
We succeeded in securing majority support for our demands to promote resource efficiency in design and production processes.
Parliament is calling for more funding for research, more development work on resource-efficient production and the decoupling resource use from economic growth.
EU foreign policy should aim to avoid armed conflicts over raw materials and to increase transparency in the resource-extracting industry, fighting corruption and mismanagement.
Moreover, European mining companies abroad should meet the same labour, social and environmental standards as in the EU.
Domestic mining should respect environmental objectives like maintaining biodiversity.
Which points did the Greens lose?
We proposed setting the annual goal of saving an amount equivalent to 3% of GDP by increasing our resource efficiency.
However, the EPP, ALDE and S&D rejected this suggestion. We wanted Parliament to demand that taxation be shifted from labour to resource consumption, but again the EPP, ALDE and ECR were too swayed by the arguments put forward by industry, which was intent on trying to defend the status quo and short-term profits.
We were also unsuccessful in imposing a moratorium on mining in the Arctic.
Lead MEP:Reinhard Bütikofer (Greens/EFA)
Green MEP responsible:Reinhard Bütikofer
Staff contact:Heike Leberle (Email)