EU’s Sefcovic: Real risk that ‘raw materials become the new oil’ – by Frédéric Simon ( – November 20, 2018)

Europeans have to be “very vigilant” that today’s dependency on imported oil and gas is not replaced by dependency on lithium, cobalt, copper and other raw materials that industries need for the green transition, Maroš Šefčovič told EURACTIV.

“I really think that, when it comes to the issue of dependency, we could end up in a situation where raw materials become the new oil,” the European Commission vice-president warned in an exclusive interview.

Maroš Šefčovič is vice-president of the European Commission in charge of the energy union. He spoke to EURACTIV’s energy and environment editor, Frédéric Simon, at the end of EU Raw Materials Week 2018.

It’s been ten years now since the European Commission adopted its raw materials initiative, in a context of increased competition for natural resources, which saw metal prices triple between 2002 and 2008. Those worries were swept away by the financial crisis but now that the economy is back on track, do you see a risk that raw material prices will start rising again?

It’s already happening. And the strategy that we adopted ten years ago had three priorities which are still relevant today. The first is access to raw materials outside of Europe; the second is mining raw materials inside Europe in a sustainable way; and the third priority which is becoming even more important in the coming years, is how we can improve reuse and recycling.

All the focus now in the European Commission is to reduce dependency on fossil fuels. But we want to avoid trading our dependency on oil and gas with dependency on the precious metals and raw materials that we need for the green transition.

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