Nature reserves are not a self-service shop for critical raw materials!

Brussels, 24.11.2021. On the occasion of the vote on the “European Strategy for Critical Raw Materials”, MEP Manuela Ripa (ÖDP) stressed the importance of circular economy and sustainability in the value chain. She criticised the attitude of most political groups in the European Parliament, which allowed mining activities in protected areas and voted against sustainability criteria in the trade of these raw materials.

In the coming years, the demand for critical raw materials will increase strongly. Drivers for this development are, on the one hand, technologies for the green transition but also sectors such as digitalisation, defence or aerospace.

In view of the scarcity of certain elements such as lithium or cobalt, the European Parliament has launched an own-initiative report calling for a strategy for these raw materials.

International trade has a special role to play, as in some cases up to 99 per cent of individual critical raw materials have to be imported. As shadow rapporteur for the opinion on the report in the Trade Committee, Manuela Ripa is therefore particularly committed to sustainability in the value chain: “We must not allow our hunger for raw materials to destroy nature in the EU and in other countries. That is why we need sustainability requirements in the form of strict social and environmental standards in the extraction and processing of raw materials as a prerequisite for trade. Unfortunately, a majority of EPP, ECR, ID and many from Renew and the S&D group voted against this for purely economic interests. By doing so, we are allowing environmental destruction and human rights violations in value chains!”

The report also contains several calls for more circular economy and sensible use of existing resources. “We need to move away from linear exploitation of our planet and towards a circular economy. Here, recycling is important, but it can only be the last step. Before that, it is important to prevent wasting resources by making products repairable and durable. We need to be more sustainable with these resources.” As a core of her strategy, Ripa clarifies: “In future, we must no longer simply accept waste as a given. We must not actually afford waste any more!”

The Green Group was not able to win a majority in the EU Parliament with its amendments and thus could not agree to the paper in the end. However, as the report gave local authorities more say in approving mining projects and built in a stronger circular economy, the group abstained.