Today, the European Parliament gave its green light to the deal reached on the EU’s Critical Raw Materials Act.

The Act identifies and prioritises key raw materials and metals like rare earths, vital for clean tech products and industrial development, ensuring their secure and sustainable availability.

From the offset, The Left demanded clear social and environmental protections. While the agreement reached is an improvement on the original text proposed by the Commission, problems remain, as Left MEP Cornelia Ernst (Die Linke, Germany) explains:

“When the Commission’s proposal was published, it was obvious that clearer social and environmental guidelines and stricter requirements for project developers were needed. If we grant projects a strategic status and allow them to benefit from privileged conditions, then this must be linked to clear conditions: high environmental standards, decent work, and respect for human rights.

“Even if the trilogue result is not as ambitious as the European Parliament mandate in this respect, it is a clear improvement on the Commission proposal. It is good that project developers must submit plans for consulting indigenous communities if they are affected by a strategic project. It is also good that damage minimisation and compensation must take place on this basis. However, the consensus principle, as actually envisaged in the European Parliament position, is sorely lacking.

“The fact that projects can also prove their suitability as strategic by means of certified schemes is also still problematic – even if we have been able to significantly tighten the criteria for recognising these schemes. Private companies testing private companies – how will that work?

“When the excavators for strategic projects start rolling in Europe and elsewhere, there will inevitably be social upheaval and environmental impacts. We will then see how robust the Critical Raw Materials Act really is. After all, security of supply and resilience is not only achieved by incentivising the industry but above all through a socially and environmentally sustainable raw materials policy that avoids social conflicts.”

With the Parliament’s vote secured, the law will now be formally adopted by the Council of the EU.

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