Critical Raw Materials are an indispensable part the EU plans to achieve its core agenda: the green transition. Currently, the EU imports a significant proportion of these minerals, often in countries with low governance levels and high environmental and human rights risks. While it is developing objectives to increase sourcing in Europe and develop more circularity, the EU will continue to heavily rely on exports from third countries, and foresees the need to strengthen its global engagement to develop and diversify investment, production, and trade with reliable partners. To support this, the EU intends intensify the development of Strategic Partnerships with resource-rich countries. The upcoming Critical Raw Materials Act (CRMA) – currently being discussed by EU institutions – further develops this concept of Strategic Partnerships and will include a set of criteria against which any Strategic Partnership should be assessed.
This new joint briefing considers ways to ensure these Partnerships benefit local development, how to increase transparency, and ways to drive reduction of overall metal demand. It also considers how to respect and uphold environmental sustainability and the rights of local communities and Indigenous Peoples. It assesses existing Strategic Partnerships for Critical Rraw Materials as well as criteria for Strategic Partnerships in the draft CRMA.
It concludes that Partnerships must improve significantly if they are to meet EU ambitions, and provided recommendations for the future.