In response to the European 2020 Flagship Initiative Innovative Union and growing raw materials challenges, the European Commission launched, in 2012, the European Innovation Partnership (EIP) on raw materials. The overall objective of the EIP on raw materials is to contribute to the 2020 objectives of the EU’s industrial policy – increasing the share of industry to 20% of GDP – and the objectives of the flagship initiatives ‘Innovation Union’ and ‘Resource Efficient Europe, by ensuring the sustainable supply of raw materials to the European economy whilst increasing benefits for society as a whole. According to the Commission this will be achieved by:
Reducing import dependency and promoting production and exports by improving supply conditions from EU, diversifying raw materials sourcing and improving resource efficiency (including recycling) and finding alternative raw materials.
Putting Europe at the forefront in raw materials sectors and mitigating the related negative environmental, social and health impacts.
The Strategic Implementation Plan makes the above objectives more concrete by setting specific targets for the EIP to meet by 2020:
Up to 10 innovative pilot actions on exploration, mining, processing, and recycling for innovative production of raw materials;
Substitutes for at least 3 applications of critical and scarce raw materials;
Framework conditions for primary raw materials that would provide a stable and competitive supply from EU sources and facilitate its public acceptance;
Framework conditions for enhanced efficiency in material use and in waste prevention, re-use and recycling, and raw materials efficient product design;
European raw materials knowledge base with information, flows and dynamic modelling system for primary and secondary raw materials;
Network of Research, Education and Training Centres on sustainable raw materials management organised as a Knowledge and Innovation Community;
Proactive international cooperation strategy of the EU at bilateral and multilateral level, promoting synergies with countries such as the US, Japan, Australia, Canada, Latin America and African Union across the different areas covered by the EIP.
Horizon 2020 & Raw Materials
Horizon 2020 is the biggest EU Research and Innovation programme, with nearly €80 billion of funding available over 7 years (2014 to 2020). It is the financial instrument used to implement the European 2020 Flagship Initiative Innovative Union and fund activities to help boost the innovation capacity of the EU raw materials sector, as well as increase raw materials security. Under Societal Challenge 5, entitled: “Climate action, environment, industrial minerals, resource efficiency and raw materials”, actions taken under this challenge, include those that are expected to contribute to the implementation of raw materials policy and the strategic implementation plan of the European Innovation Partnership on Raw Materials. Examples of projects on raw materials, as well as the critical ones, include:
HiTech AlkCarb: New geomodels to explore deeper for High-Technology critical raw materials in Alkaline rocks and Carbonatites
VERAM: Vision and Roadmap for European Raw Materials
STRADE: Strategic Dialogue on Sustainable Raw Materials for Europe
Expert Network on Critical Raw Materials
CRM Alliance Position
Substitution is not a viable option for CRMs due to their unique properties and economic significance, in particular, in high-tech applications requiring high standard performance and specification (often critical for safety).