EUROBAT calls for raw materials czar to defend European battery industry

EUROBAT calls for raw materials czar to defend European battery industry

EUROBAT calls for raw materials czar to defend European battery industry 1000 463 Batteries International

February 22, 2024: EUROBAT is calling for the appointment of an EU commissioner with specific responsibility for safeguarding the bloc’s battery materials supply chain.

The  association of European automotive and industrial battery manufacturers says a raw materials czar — officially the ‘commissioner for strategic autonomy’ — should be appointed as a key member of the next European Commission to be formed after EU elections in June.

The call came on February 20, just one day after the European Commission announced the signing of a raw materials development agreement with Rwanda, saying the African nation has the potential to be a useful source of lithium and rare earth elements in addition to other minerals.

At its ‘EUROBAT Manifesto’ launch in Brussels, the industry body unveiled its  policy recommendations up to 2029 for the  next intake of European Parliament members and commissioners.

The manifesto says greater innovation in all “mainstream battery technologies such as lead, lithium, nickel and sodium” will be vital to meet Europe’s Green Deal decarbonization goals and the transition to a circular economy.

Marc Zoellner (pictured), EUROBAT president and CEO of Hoppecke Batteries, said the EU’s new political term had to build on achievements of recent years including the Batteries Regulation and Green Deal initiatives, to give the battery industry legislative clarity and consistency to support a self-sufficient European battery industry.

“The new Commission will need to establish criteria on mining and recycling,” he said.

In addition, Europe’s battery sector needs easy access to more financial support to combat incentives being poured into attracting industry players to the US and Asia.

However, the director general of the Commission’s directorate for transport, energy, environment and education, Peter Javorčík, said while the EU was striving to achieve strategic autonomy to ensure a secure raw materials supply chain, he would not be in favour of a specific commissioner for the task.

“It’s not about one person but rather that all respond to the concept,” Javorčík told a panel discussion at the manifesto launch.

Analysis published in May 2023 by the European electrochemical and thermal energy storage research center, CIC energiGUNE, said the EU needed to invest more than €13 billion ($14 billion) by 2040 to guarantee just a quarter of key battery materials from European sources to power its green energy agenda.

Batteries International reported last month that EV lithium battery recycling activities in Europe risk grinding to a halt within months, shaking investor confidence in the sector, if new EU waste classification rules come into force.

Earlier this month Eurometaux, which represents non-ferrous metals producers and recyclers in Europe, told EU leaders they must do more to ensure reliable supplies of raw materials essential for batteries, renewables and other cleantech sectors to underpin climate policies.