The European Commission has now set out its ‘Green Deal Industrial Plan for the Net Zero age’ in more detail. The deal aims to ensure the EU doesn’t lose ground in the green tech race; it needs to compete with the United States as a manufacturing hub for EVs (and other green products) and reduce its dependence on China.
In the words of the European Commission’s President, Ursula von der Leyen:
We know that in the next years, the shape of the economy, the net-zero economy, and where it is located will be decided. And we want to be an important part of this net-zero industry that we need globally.
The proposed deal is intended to be complimented by the Critical Raw Materials Act. This seeks to significantly increase and diversify the European Union’s critical raw materials supply, strengthen circularity and support research and innovation. As Thierry Breton – the European Commissioner for Internal Market – emphasises:
It [the deal] will go hand in hand with the Critical Raw Materials Act, because there will be no clean technology industry without secure and sustainable access to raw materials.
The European Commission is also exploring the creation of a Critical Raw Materials Club to ensure global security of supply.
EU leaders are allegedly concerned by President Joe Biden’s $369 billion ‘Inflation Reduction Act’. It’s feared it will urge green tech companies to relocate to benefit from tax breaks and subsidies, at Europe’s expense. Then there’s China’s export dominance. On this, Thierry Breton gives a succinct reality check:
“China produces 98% of the solar panels we use. And last year, China overtook Germany to become the world’s second-largest car exporter, as even European manufacturers are now producing electric cars in China for our market.”
And when it comes to the EU CRMs we are investigating, China produces approximately 59% of the world’s vanadium and 41% of titanium, while 34% of traded phosphate rock is sourced from Morocco, according to the latest EU figures.
The Plan is based on four pillars: simplifying regulations; speeding up access to finance; skills development; and open trade to provide a ‘more supportive environment’ to boost the EU’s manufacturing capacity for the green transition to meet its climate targets. As Ursula von der Leyen explains:
“Without secure and sustainable access to the necessary raw materials, our ambition to become the first climate neutral continent is at risk.”
Above all, Brussels wants Europe to be the first climate-neutral continent by 2050, and to cut its emissions by at least 55% by 2030. These latest developments are significant milestones for Europe’s access to key raw materials for the energy transition.
Meanwhile, our Norwegian-based subsidiary company, Norge Mineraler AS, has been given official support from the European Raw Materials Alliance (ERMA) in securing finances for the responsible sourcing of EU Critical Raw Materials in Norway. In 2021 we announced the discovery of more than 70 billion tonnes of phosphate rock in southwest Norway containing phosphate, titanium, and vanadium. This is one of the most significant deposits of EU CRMs – and we are excited for the next steps.