The Commission has a issued on 29.2.2012 a Communication to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on making raw materials available for Europe's future well-being. The communication contains the proposal for a European innovation partnership on raw materials.
The strategic importance of a sustainable supply of raw materials to the EU – for its industry and society as a whole – has been well recognised in different strategic policy documents such as the Raw Materials Initiative proposed by the European Commission, related Council Conclusions and Report from the EP. The Europe 2020 Strategy highlighted the importance of this issue both within the "Industrial policy" and "Resource efficiency" Flagship initiatives. Moreover, the importance of an efficient use of resources has been highlighted in the associated Roadmap on Resource Efficiency.
A new paradigm is emerging in the 21st century which points us to innovation as a driving force that has, so far, remained largely untapped in Europe in the area of raw materials. In 2010 the Commission has set out, as part of the Innovation Union flagship initiative, the appropriate framework of European Innovation Partnerships (EIPs). Such Partnerships will be launched in cases where the combined strength of public and private efforts at regional, national and EU level in innovation and R&D and demand-side measures are needed to achieve societal targets quicker and more efficiently. This is the case for raw materials as presented in the attached Communication. To speed this process up, the Commission proposes concrete targets to be achieved by 2020 at the latest:
- up to 10 innovative pilot actions (e.g. demonstration plants) for exploration, extraction and processing, collection and recycling;
- substitutes for at least three key applications of critical and scarce raw materials;
- enhanced efficiency in material use and in prevention, re-use and recycling of valuable raw materials from waste streams, with a specific focus on materials having a potentially negative impact on the environment;
- a Network of Research, Education and Training Centres on Sustainable Mining and Materials Management (M);
- European standardised statistical instruments for the survey of resources and reserves and a 3-D geological map;
- a dynamic modelling system linking trends in supply and demand with economically exploitable reserves and a full lifecycle analysis;
- a pro-active strategy of the EU in multi-lateral organisations and in bilateral relations, such as the US, Japan, Australia in the different areas covered by the Partnership.