Saturday, November 8, 2008

Commission proposals outline raw material policy

The European Commission today (Nov 4) launched a "long term sustained" approach to make sure that the raw material supplies to Europe do not suffer for different reasons.

Stressing that the EU industrial sector is facing a decline in the global supply of raw materials, Gunter Verheugen, the European Commissioner for Enterprise and Industry said, "We must act, to ensure that access to raw materials for enterprises will not be hampered. We need fair play on external markets, a good framework to foster sustainable raw materials supply from EU sources as well as improved resource efficiency and more use of recycling."

Presenting the proposals to journalists in Brussels, Verheugen, Vice President of the European Commission said, "It is our aim to make sure that Europe's industry will be able to continue to play a leading role in new technologies and innovation."

Talking to New Europe later after the press conference, Commissioner Verheugen said, "I stressed integrated approach from the beginning. As the there are two groups of the European Commission involved: External Relations group and Competitive group, we will need co-ordination structure."

Commissioner further said, "As the instruments needed to are not in my hands, there is a strong support I have from the other commissioners on the subject."

"I have agreed with my colleagues, notably Cathy Ashton, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, Louis Michel and Stavros Dimas, to closely cooperate to implement the proposed strategy," Verheugen earlier told the press conference.

In his presentations, Commissioner Verheugen said, "Americans and Japanese have a stockpiling policy," adding that the Europeans, who lack such a policy, will have to develop it over the coming years. "We are committed to improve the conditions of access to raw materials, be it within Europe or by creating a level playing field in accessing such materials from abroad," the Commissioner said.

Moreover, the importance of recycling got due attention as the Commission said, "Recycling presents a huge opportunity to reduce import dependency for raw materials," lamenting that many end-of-life products are "illegally shipped outside the EU and are hence not recycled within the EU."

Outlining the three major pillars for its policy development, the Commission listed:

"Access to raw materials on world markets at undistorted conditions;

The right framework to foster sustainable supply of raw materials from EU sources;

Increase resource efficiency and promoting recycling in the EU."

Earlier presentation by the Commission of a "European strategy for the sustainable use of natural resources" had met with strong criticism in the European parliament and now the Commission, the executive arm of the EU, has the mandate from the Competitiveness Council of the EU to develop a "coherent political approach" to address the raw material problems in different sectors.

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