An EU critical raw materials act for the future of EU supply chains


The Critical Raw Materials Act (CRMA), proposed by the European Commission in March 2023, was adopted by the Council one year later, on 18 March 2024, marking the last step in the decision-making procedure.

Looking back in time, less than three years ago, the raw materials was a topic exclusively tackled by ‘connaisseurs’. Today, it has become a strategic file, and the speed of its adoption shows need for action to secure a sustainable supply of critical raw materials (CRMs).

Standing at the core of the Green Deal Industrial Plan, together with the Net Zero Industry Act and the Reform of the electricity market design, the CRMA is a flagship initiative with a threefold objective: to increase and diversify the EU’s CRMs supply, to strengthen circularity, including recycling, and to support research and innovation (R&I) on resource efficiency and the development of substitutes. The bloc further consolidated this timely adoption with a set of complementary regulations and diplomatic initiatives, outlining a clear position ready to reduce reliance on third countries through export restrictions and screening for foreign direct investment across various sectors [e.g. forging strategic agreements with Chile, Greenland, Ukraine, Canada, Rwanda, and more recently Norway].

Read the official press release

Echoing the official communication, Commission Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis declared for Euractiv: “Trade flows of critical raw materials are highly concentrated,” adding, “While we will continue to rely on imports, we need to massively diversify.”

The official document sets a threshold of 65% of the EU’s annual consumption of any CRM deriving from any single country. The CRMA establishes also a list of 34 critical and no less than 17 strategic raw materials considered crucial for the twin green and digital transition, as well as for defence and space industries.

In addition to the updated list of CRMs, the act introduces three targets for annual consumption of raw materials:

  • 10% for local extraction
  • 40% EU domestic processing threshold
  • 25% of supply emanating from recycled material

These changes modifying the recycling target reflect the increasing importance of paving a circular economy model that ensures a sustainable supply of raw materials.

© visual: European Commission