In an effort to finish the EU’s reliance on Russian fossil fuels, the bloc is rapidly moving towards renewable energy. Nevertheless, renewable energy projects require rare metals and minerals like lithium, which Europe could have to import from foreign countries, probably the most notable of which is China. This time Europe is keen to make sure that it is just not completely depending on foreign countries for his or her supplies, as fears grow that Chinese Premier Xi Jinping could squeeze the availability of such minerals in a bid to use political pressure on Europe.
This tactic was the one adopted by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who squeezed the availability of natural gas and has been using its position as Europe’s largest supplier as leverage while Russia invades Ukraine.
In line with a report by the EU Commission, China produces 98-99 percent of all of the “rare Earth elements” on the planet.
These are a group of 17 rare metallic elements which might be utilized in heavy industry and high-tech uses, especially within the developed world.
EU leaders are currently meeting to debate the continent’s strategic autonomy within the raw minerals sector, which implies that as an alternative of counting on only one country, like China, the EU will diversify its imports from a variety of nations.
Speaking on the Raw Materials summit on Wednesday, European Commissioner for Internal Market, Thierry Breton said: “The goal is to be certain that our strategic dependency is diminished because considering our digital, green and resilient transformation without secure access to raw materials is solely impossible.”
Mr Breton added that to be able to decrease the EU dependency on third states, the bloc has announced the Raw Materials Act – to “intensify the work on the availability of critical minerals.”
When China locked down its borders to Covid-19, supply chains around the globe were greatly affected, as China dominated large sectors in various industries.
For instance, Europe’s aluminium manufacturing industry was disrupted when China, which provides the continent with 93 percent of its magnesium supply, scaled back production.
READ MORE: Xi to bring Europe ‘grinding to a halt’ by squeezing critical supplies