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Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

The first implementation phase: key achievements and state-of-play

Since the adoption of the EIP's strategic implementation plan (SIP) in 2013, significant progress has been made towards the implementation of the EIPs actions.

  • The EIP can currently count on 123 raw materials commitments, which are voluntary joint undertakings that commit to implementing the SIP's actions and targets. These Commitments include close to 980 unique partners from more than 50 different countries and have an indicative budget of close to €2 billion. They are found to be delivering tangible results such as innovative actions or pilots, strategic documents or knowledge sharing activities.
  • The European Commission has taken many initiatives to implement the SIP's actions:
    • It has directed more than €200 million of R&I funding to 37 projects that deal with raw materials through the Horizon 2020 programme
    • It has addressed many of the actions on waste management framework conditions in the circular economy package
    • It has published a number of studies and reports and organised a series of conferences with the US and Japan on critical raw materials
  • The launch of the EIT raw materials will contribute to the further implementation and coordination of many of the EIP's actions. The EIT brings together 115 partners from 22 EU countries, making it the biggest consortium of this kind in the world. The EIT applied for approximately €400 million in EU funding, a sum they commit to leverage by a factor of four over the period 2015-2022

The EIP is also well on track to achieving its targets:

  • Targets 1 and 2, on the launch of 10 pilot actions and the development of 3 substitutes, are very likely to be met, mostly via Horizon 2020 projects. On substitution for example there are already 2 projects that have delivered concrete results.
  • Targets 3 and 4 on improving framework conditions for resp. primary materials and materials efficiency and waste management are also well on track. To deliver on framework conditions for primary raw materials it will be important to engage with all competent authorities and stakeholders. Work on framework conditions for materials efficiency and waste management will be pursued through the implementation of the circular economy package.
  • The launch of the raw materials information system (RMIS) provides a good perspective on the achievement of target 5 on the establishment of an EU-wide knowledge base for raw materials.
  • Target 6 on the launch of the EIT on raw materials has been fully completed. It is expected that it will significantly contribute to the further implementation and coordination of many other actions of the EIP in the future.
  • Target 7 on the adoption of a pro-active international co-operation strategy is successfully implemented, through the organisation of raw materials diplomacy dialogues, the inclusion of raw materials in the ‘trade for all’ communication and the active negotiations with a number of third countries and the trilateral cooperation and dialogue with the US and Japan on alternatives to critical raw materials.

In sum, through the implementation of the actions and targets, the EIP is bringing systemic change in the raw materials policy framework.

It has created a significant raw materials community, facilitated considerable funding for raw materials R&D through Horizon 2020 and has contributed to the improvement of the regulatory framework. The development of the raw materials scoreboard will raise awareness about the challenges related to raw materials. The launch of the raw materials information system and the set-up of the raw materials investment platform are also expected to improve the framework conditions for boosting raw materials production in the EU.

This way the EIP on raw materials has delivered on the original purpose of the European innovation partnerships, which is to provide a framework that aims to break down silos, bringing together all relevant stakeholders across the value chain, and across policies, sectors and EU countries to speed up innovations and gain competitive advantages for growth and job creation in Europe. The fact that several Member States have set up their own mirror groups proves that the EIP is seen as an effective instrument.

Read more about the EIP's achievements in the strategic evaluation report

Looking towards the future: strategic orientations for the EIP

The European innovation partnership on raw materials' high-level steering group brings together representatives from industry, public services, academia and NGOs.

Its mission is to provide high-level guidance to the European Commission, EU countries and private actors on innovative approaches to the challenges related to raw materials.

The high-level steering group adopted a position paper in January 2018 and the strategic evaluation report in July 2016.

Key findings from the high-level steering group's position paper (January 2018)

To keep up with fast-moving, disruptive change towards a circular, low-carbon and digital economy the EIP's high-level steering group recommends to:

Adopt a value chain approach

  • Promote integrated global and European value chains for primary and secondary raw materials, with a focus on security of supply for a resilient, low carbon and circular EU economy
  • Shorten value chains by connecting EU producers and end-users, capturing value for the EU economy and adding high value and jobs in the EU
  • Encourage public-private investments for strategic value chains in line with the EU's renewed industrial policy strategy
  • Facilitate European strategic raw materials cooperation along the lines of the European Battery Alliance

Engage SMEs

  • Attract SMEs that are agile, disruptive and digitally ready
  • Promote start-ups
  • Allocate more resources to SMEs

Secure production and market in the EU

  • Secure sustainable domestic production of raw materials, including critical raw materials, taking into account the scale and duration of investment
  • Exploit and implement circular economy model(s) in all EU countries
  • Move re-use and recycling to the next level: focused investments; harmonisation; simplification; customer-oriented design for sustainability, reuse, recycling and minimal life-cycle impact, quality of secondary raw materials; and an effective sustainable and profitable internal downstream market for secondary raw materials
  • Further elaborate the linkages between products and raw materials to enhance the efficiency in the use of resources, improve design and quality of products and develop substitution alternatives

Promote research and innovation

  • Embrace digitalisation (big data, internet of things, robotics, automation) and other key enabling technologies
  • Promote clean energy production
  • Promote open innovation ecosystems
  • Secure world class research capacity and infrastructure
  • Shift R&D focus from individual processes and materials to smart, innovative and sustainable solutions throughout the value chain
  • Move R&D closer to production and the market phase – higher technology readiness levels
  • Highlight the contribution of R&I in raw materials supply and circular economy to sustainable development goals
  • Ensure long term strategic investment in step-change technologies and business models to achieve clearly defined and measurable results
  • Improve resource use and further develop products, process, services and business models that are designed to maintain the value and utility of materials and resources in the economy for as long as possible

Raise societal awareness of raw materials and close skills gaps

  • Reach out to citizens – consumers, the young generation
  • Boost benefits for local communities where primary and secondary raw materials are produced while being transparent on how social and environmental impacts and risks are addressed
  • Improve skills required to adapt to the changes in the EU’s economy and fit for the digital age (the skills blueprints, EIT raw materials)
  • Strive to make the raw materials sector an ‘attractive workplace’

Improve framework conditions

  • Strengthen partnerships between the EU, EU countries and regions to improve the framework for jobs, growth, innovation and sustainable development
  • Ensure transparency and stability of regulatory frameworks, to enable primary and secondary raw materials industry to be profitable and sustainable
  • Address the improvement of framework conditions and permitting through dialogue and exchange of best practices at EU country level
  • Improve the investment environment and encourage financial actors engaging in financing of sustainable raw materials supply projects

Develop EU knowledge base

  • Further develop the raw materials information system - as a core of the EU raw materials knowledge base - to support priority knowledge needs of policy and the community, including for monitoring via the raw materials scoreboard and circular economy Indicators
  • Improve knowledge of demand and supply regarding primary and secondary raw materials, market disruptions and resource efficiency potentials needed for a clean global and European economy
  • Integrate raw materials data inventories, monitoring tools and analytical capacity to map the value chains
  • Increase knowledge on the sustainable supply of primary and secondary raw materials building from value chain models

Foster sustainable and responsible sourcing

  • Ensure that raw materials policy and actions contribute to the UN sustainable development goals and the Paris Agreement on climate change
  • Promote responsible sourcing, including through open and rules-based trade, investment and industrial cooperation
  • Promote discovery and sustainable exploitation of new mineral deposits within the EU in full compliance with existing environmental legislation, and making use of best available techniques
  • Export ‘clean policies’ and leading technologies

Read the EIP's high-level steering group's position paper

Key findings from the strategic evaluation report (July 2016)

To further increase the EIP's impact until 2020, the EIP will create synergies with other stakeholders and the change the set-up of the operational groups

  • The EIP will create synergies with other sectors and stakeholders, including downstream users and SMEs, to reflect the interconnectedness of raw materials in the EU economy, and with other high-level groups and international institutions. The EIP will also strive to better integrate EU countries and regions in its work and encourage new EU countries to actively participate in the EIP's calls for commitments. It will also improve its communication on the EIP's working and the challenges related to raw materials.
  • The EIP may adjust the structure and membership of its operational groups to ensure the full pursuit of the strategic implementation plan. It will create an operational group on biotic materials and integrate horizontal issues related to international cooperation in the other operational groups.

The long-term competitiveness of the EU economy will continue to depend on the secure supply of raw materials

The raw materials scoreboard clearly pictures the current and future challenges related to raw materials, such as increasingly distorted international commodity markets, the under-exploration of the EU's mineral potential and relatively low recycling rates for many raw materials.

Commission President Juncker has defined jobs, growth and investment as the top priority of his Commission. With 11 million jobs in the manufacturing sector depending on the secure supply of metals (e.g. automotive, machinery or electronics), it is clear that raw materials are a crucial factor for the EU's competitiveness.

A long-term vision for the EU economy must have a solid strategy on raw materials supply

In view of these challenges it is thus important that the EU further pursues a robust integrated raw materials policy framework. The EU's raw materials policy framework is based on the raw materials initiative, which is currently supported by the EIP. However, the fact that the raw materials initiative was last updated and endorsed by the Council and the European Parliament in 2011 may call for a reflection on how the security of supply of raw materials can remain integrated in the EU's long-term thinking.

Such a strategy will need to take into account relevant economic developments, such as fluctuating prices for raw materials, which may lead to structural under-investment, but also political and geopolitical evolutions. It will also need to align with other EU policies, such as the climate and energy, the circular economy, trade etc.

The EIP should play an active role in shaping the EU's future raw materials policy framework

The role of the EIP can be two-fold in this regard. First the EIP should continue to involve all relevant stakeholders and play its role in outlining actions that need to be taken by the EIP to support raw materials policy. It should also continue to make proposals on how to better take into account current economic, political and geopolitical evolutions that affect the raw materials sector. In that context, the EIP is also instrumental in addressing framework conditions (permitting, land-use planning, waste management etc…) which are key elements of the EU raw materials policy.

Second the EIP can carry out a detailed mapping on the implementation of the individual actions included in the strategic implementation plan as well as an assessment of whether there are any new areas of interest that are not covered in the SIP in the context of its next monitoring and evaluation exercise (which will be published in 2018). It will be highly useful to get an overview on issues on which further action is required and thus identify useful future activities in the field of raw materials.

Read more about the EIP's future orientations in the strategic evaluation report