EU’s Critical Raw Materials Act: A Mixed Bag of Aspirations & Shortcomings

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The Members of the European Parliament gave the final text of the Critical Raw Materials Act a green light [this month]. The EEB acknowledges some improvements in the final text, such as the increased recycling target to 25% and the inclusion of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). However, the EEB remains concerned about the lack of concrete targets to reduce raw material consumption, the absence of a clear commitment to Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) for Indigenous Peoples, and the extensive reliance on certification schemes that may not provide adequate protections for the environment and human rights.

Echoing the concerns of a coalition of hundreds of grassroots organisations and experts, The EEB called for its immediate improvements and adopting a sustainable and just approach to raw materials management.

Reduced Raw Material Consumption: A Missed Opportunity

The EEB argues that the CRMA has failed to seize the opportunity to put the EU on a path to reducing our consumption of raw materials within planetary boundaries. While the increased recycling target is a positive step, it is not enough to address the root causes of the raw materials crisis. The EEB calls for concrete targets to reduce raw material demand, such as setting a maximum percentage of raw material use per product category.

Lack of FPIC for Indigenous Peoples

The EEB is also disappointed that the CRMA does not explicitly recognize the Indigenous Peoples’ right to Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC). This right is crucial for ensuring that Indigenous Peoples have a say in decisions that affect their lands and livelihoods, especially in relation to mining projects. The EEB calls for the EU to explicitly include FPIC in the CRMA and to ensure that it is implemented in practice.

Outsourcing of Environmental and Human Rights Protection

The EEB is concerned about the prominent role the CRMA gives to certification schemes as a way to attest compliance for Strategic Projects outside of the EU. While some minimum fitness criteria have been adopted for these schemes, the EEB argues that they are not sufficient to ensure that environmental and human rights standards are met. The EEB calls for the EU to strengthen the requirements for certification schemes and to prioritize other forms of environmental and human rights protection, such as direct monitoring and enforcement.

Strategic Partnerships with Resource-Rich Countries

The EEB is also concerned about the EU’s use of Strategic Partnerships on Critical Raw Materials with resource-rich countries. These partnerships could lead to increased mining in sensitive ecosystems and exacerbate human rights abuses. The EEB calls for the EU to prioritize reducing its reliance on raw materials from third countries and to promote sustainable sourcing practices.

The EEB concludes that the CRMA is a mixed bag of aspirations and shortcomings. While it includes some positive elements, such as the increased recycling target and the inclusion of UNDRIP, it also falls short in a number of key areas, which makes it a dangerous and flawed piece of legislation that could exacerbate environmental degradation, human rights abuses, and corporate corruption. The EEB called for its immediate improvement and the adoption of a sustainable and just approach to raw materials management.

Grassroots Reactions

The EEB finds it important to also highlight the voice of Grassroots organisations with regards to the EEB, particularly the letter by Marš sa Drine (Serbia) and MiningWatch Portugal.

Article courtesy of European Environmental Bureau.


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