The EU is dependent on the imports of many raw materials. Even though the potential for mining and quarrying in Europe is strong, the land area available for extraction is constantly decreasing. To facilitate the sustainable supply of raw materials from European deposits, the European Commission aims to secure the right legal and regulatory conditions.
What the Commission does
Securing a sustainable supply of raw materials from EU sources is a second pillar of the raw materials initiative, published on 2 February 2011. The Commission proposed targeted measures to promote investment in extractive industries in Europe
EU principles for sustainable raw materials (2021)
The voluntary EU principles for sustainable raw materials, developed by the Commission, EU countries and stakeholders, serve to create a common European understanding of best practices in the processing and mining (from exploration to post-closure) of raw materials in Europe in terms of social-environmental- and economic performance.
JRC science for policy report (2021)
The JRC science for policy report study reviews EU legal provisions on the environmental impact assessment of non-energy minerals extraction projects, looking into key environmental factors and some impact assessment elements along the mining life cycle phases, in addition to a few good practice cases. It also reviews the risk assessment methodologies, environmental monitoring, mitigation measures and assessment of alternatives, as well as environmental liability and information management issues. It may help the sector in gaining fluent approval of the environmental impact assessment (EIA) report and streamlined environmental permitting.
Guidelines on extraction: Natura 2000 (2019, 2011)
In 2011, the Commission adopted a guidance document on non-energy mineral extraction and Natura 2000. It shows how to reconcile extractive activities in or near Natura 2000 areas with biodiversity protection. In 2019, the Commission published new case studies to complement the guidance demonstrating European best practices.
Exchange of best practices (2014, 2011)
The Commission established an ad-hoc expert group on the exchange of best practices in the area of land use planning and administrative conditions for exploration and extraction. The group submitted 2 reports
- the first report in June 2011 – see the abridged report and full report
- the second report in November 2014 – see the full report
Good practice report (2014)
The report identifies good practices in the raw materials sector and evaluates their effectiveness. By sharing 25 concrete examples, the report assists other countries and regions in developing similar approaches. Read the report and annex A
National minerals policy indicators (2014)
The Commission proposed to develop indicators showing how the legislation impacts the performance of the extractive sector. The report on policy indicators was delivered by the ad-hoc expert group in 2014
To strengthen the EU mining industry it is necessary to improve the EU raw materials knowledge database. The EU is working on improving the EU's knowledge database that includes knowledge on mineral deposits. The latter is to be achieved through better networking of national geological surveys and making optimal use of the satellite-based information system GMES.
Research and innovation
The EU promotes research projects on the extraction and processing of raw materials within the EU's Horizon 2020 programme and Horizon Europe. The European technology platform on sustainable mineral resources focuses on innovative exploration and extraction technologies that will maximise economic and environmental benefits.
The Commission's activities under the second pillar of RMI are well described in the strategic implementation plan (SIP) within the priority area: Improving Europe's raw materials framework conditions. The priority area aims to facilitate the exchange of best practices among EU countries to improve the sustainable and safe supply of raw materials to the EU economy and society.
The priority area has three action spaces
- minerals policy framework
- access to mineral potential in the EU
- public awareness, acceptance and trust
The improvement of the raw materials framework conditions would foster a stable and competitive supply from EU sources and facilitate public acceptance whilst contributing to increased environmental protection.
However, minerals policy and the supply of raw materials fall under the competence of individual EU countries' jurisdiction. See the updated national strategies and/or minerals policies of several countries below.