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23 May 2023

EU Critical Raw Materials Act (CRMA) enters into force amid civil society concerns

The Critical Raw Materials Act (CRMA) is meant to ensure the EU can rely on "strong, resilient, and sustainable value chains for critical raw materials", according to the EU Commission. Since the beginning of the process, civil society has been calling on policymakers to make sure the law does not come at the cost of increased risks of human rights violations and environmental destruction and result in replacing current dependency on fossil fuels, with another. A just transition for Europe means ensuring human rights and the environment are protected in the Act, as well as introducing systemic measures that decrease demand for newly extracted minerals.

On 9 February, 12 environmental organisations sent an open letter to the President of the European Commission, European Commissioners, as well as to the Swedish Presidency of Council of the European Union, urging them to ensure the CRMA upholds environmental standards, establishes secondary raw materials targets and a measurement of the environmental impacts of imported or domestically mined minerals.

On 27 February, 11 human rights and environmental organisations called on EU decision-makers to establish strong human rights and environmental safeguards and a robust corporate accountability framework as well as to ensure its sourcing of minerals outside of its borders is done in an equitable manner and does not restrict the capacity of its partners to develop their own value chains.

On 16 March 2023, the European Commission presented its proposal. Reactions from civil society organisations can be found below.

On 14 September 2023, the European Parliament adopted its negotiating position on the CRMA. Civil society organisations welcomed the passing of Amendment 11, which paves the way for a stronger inclusion of free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) principles, however criticised missed opportunities to strengthen FPIC in certification schemes and expand Indigenous people’s rights more broadly, as well as the insufficient involvement of civil society. They also raised concerns over the possibility of rapid expropriation of property in local communities that are in the path of mining operations recognised as strategic, as well as a failure to include a ban on mining in protected areas.

After negotiating for two months, the European Parliament and Council agreed on the CRMA on 13 November 2023. Following formal adoption of the agreement in the EU Parliament (12 December 2023) and Council (18 March 2024), it entered into force on 23 May 2024. Civil society has remained critical of the law.

For updates, materials and commentary relating to CRMA implementation as well as other European regional or national transition minerals laws, policies and partnerships, please refer to this story.