Defining ‘critical’ raw materials

Raw materials are fundamental to Europe’s economy, and they are essential for maintaining and improving our quality of life. Recent years have seen a rapid growth in the number of materials used across products. Securing reliable and undistorted access of certain raw materials is of growing concern within the EU and across the globe. As a consequence of these circumstances, the Raw Materials Initiative was instigated to manage responses to raw materials issues at an EU level. Critical raw materials have a high economic importance to the EU combined with a high risk associated with their supply.

The first criticality analysis for raw materials was published in 2010 by the Ad-Hoc Working Group on Defining Critical Raw Materials, a subgroup to the Raw Materials Supply Group, which is an expert group of the European Commission. 14 critical raw materials were identified from a candidate list of 41 non-energy, non-food materials. In the 2011 Communication on raw materials (COM (2011)25 of 2 February 2011), the Commission formally adopted this list and stated that it would continue to monitor the issue of critical raw materials in order to identify priority actions. It also committed to undertake a regular review and update of this list at least every 3 years.

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