Parliamentary Question: Securing Europe's supply of rare earth elements


Parliamentary questions

28 February 2011 O-000043/2011/rev.1   Question for oral answer to the Commission Rule 115 Lena Ek, Vladko Todorov Panayotov, Fiona Hall, Marielle De Sarnez, Niccolò Rinaldi, Marietje Schaake, Michael Theurer, on behalf of the ALDE Group Subject: Securing Europe's supply of rare earth elements  Rare earth elements (REE) are critical to hundreds of high-tech applications, and key to the development of green technologies such as wind-powered turbines and hybrid vehicles. EU industry currently depends totally on REE imports from China, which controls 97% of world production. Furthermore, while global demand for REE rises, China has already announced significant export restrictions. It is estimated that already in 2014 a global production shortfall of 40 000 tonnes of REE will exist. What possible short-term measures is the Commission proposing to take regarding REE, in accordance with the pillars set out in the European Raw Materials Initiative (RMI)? How does the Commission intend to deal with the sensitive REE issue in its regular dialogue with China and within the trade and economic cooperation agreement and the ongoing negotiations for the EU China partnership and cooperation agreement? What is the state of play within the WTO? What steps has the EC taken, along with its partners, to establish alternative sources of REE and minimise the supply risk for European industry? Has the Commission considered securing long-term trade agreements with other countries and regional organisations which produce REE, such as Latin-American countries, Australia and Canada? Given that REE are necessary not only for high-tech appliances and green technologies but also for critical medical and defence applications, is the Commission considering the possibility of setting up a European stockpiling scheme for these materials (following similar moves by the US, Japan and Korea) in order to enable adequate REE supply and price stability? What are the prospects for REE recycling in the EU? Will REE substitution play an important role in the next research FP? How does the Commission plan to encourage EU REE companies to redevelop and exploit other sources within the EU and in Greenland? What action does the Commission plan to take to ensure that extraction of rare earths in developing countries is undertaken in a fully transparent manner and with due consultation of local communities? Please find the answer here.