In the last decade, a structural change has taken place in global mineral markets and the global demand for raw materials stands at the bottom of a new growth curve. In this perspective, safeguarding the domestic minerals supply will be challenging for the European Union and all other technologically advanced countries to ensure economic sustainability and to improve our quality of life. In this sense, the European Commission’s communication “The raw materials initiative — meeting our critical needs for growth and jobs in Europe” (November 2008) recognises the need to address the raw materials issue at a high political level to ensure future security of supply for Europe.
The European Union’s overall growth strategy “Europe 2020” (2010) outlines the EU’s aim to develop into a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy. In this context, seven so-called flagship initiatives were presented as new engines to boost growth and jobs. Two of these initiatives are particularly relevant for the INTRAW project:
The core message of “An Industrial Policy for the Globalisation Era” is that industry must be placed centre stage if Europe is to remain a global economic leader. Only a European Raw Materials Policy targeting competitiveness and sustainability on an international level can muster the critical mass of change and coordination needed for success.
“A resource-efficient Europe” intends to support the shift towards a resource-efficient, low-carbon economy to achieve sustainable growth. Europe needs technological improvements and significant changes in the fields of raw materials research, recycling, energy, industrial production and transport systems.
In addition, the European Commission established in 2010 the European Innovation Partnerships (EIPs). An EIP on Raw Materials was set up in 2012 to promote research and innovation along the entire value chain of raw materials.