Academic journal article Economics, Management and Financial Markets

Comparative Analysis on the Regulation of Mineral Resources in the Member States of the European Union

Academic journal article Economics, Management and Financial Markets

Comparative Analysis on the Regulation of Mineral Resources in the Member States of the European Union

Article excerpt

1.Introduction

As a general category, mineral resources include metals (gold, copper and iron), non-metallic minerals and mineral rocks (limestone, salt etc.). Oil, natural gas, coal, gravel and peat are also included in this general category.

Mineral resources rights and legal systems which govern the exploration and exploitation are the focus of current specialist studies. Requirements related to mineral resources rights entail the right to that land, which means that access to land is a crucial aspect of the problem.

It is well-known that minerals are crucial for the development and the functioning of society. The European Union, a major consumer of minerals, is therefore dependent on the metallic minerals. In 2008, the European Commission proposed a strategy on raw materials based on three criteria: to have equal access to raw materials on the world market, to promote the sustainable purchase of raw materials from European sources (by setting up an appropriate legal framework) and to reduce the consumption of basic raw materials at EU level (The raw materials initiative - Meeting our critical needs for growth and jobs in Europe (COM) (2008) 699 and Commission Staff Working Document, Analysis of the competitiveness of the non-energy extractive industry in the EU. (SEC) (2007) 771).

The Commission has published a roadmap for the policy of optimization of the use of resources, making an important step in implementing a key objective of the EU 2020 Strategy. The document identifies the sectors that consume the most resources, bringing to the fore a new development model based on recycling and more efficient product design.

The idea of reducing dependence on imported raw materials also appears in the EU 2020 Strategy and the European Raw Materials Initiative from 2008. The raw materials initiative is based on three criteria: ensuring a level playing field regarding the access to resources in third countries; fostering the sustainable supply of raw materials from European sources, as well as boosting resource efficiency and promoting recycling.

The Commission has identified 14 critical raw materials at EU level and developed an innovative, pragmatic and transparent methodological approach to define the "criticality" of raw materials. Critical raw materials are those that pose a particularly high risk of a supply shortage in the next 10 years and which are particularly important in the value chain.

The EU has taken steps to improve its knowledge basis regarding current and future deposits of numerous important raw materials and to stimulate the extractive industry to provide new products for the manufacturing industry in the context of the Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Development. Projects have been funded regarding the development of advanced underground technologies for intelligent mining, projects regarding the substitution of critical raw materials such as rare earths and platinum group metals as well as projects regarding the coordination of activities of Member States in handling industrial raw materials through the ERA-NET.

The development of the concept of "bio-refinery", that will contribute to the development of new products with high added value, has been supported; European Technology Platforms regarding Sustainable Mineral Resources and the technology of the forest sector are important tools to stimulate new research efforts in the field of raw materials.

On 2 February 2011 the Commission adopted a new strategy based on the 2008 Communication, which aims to implement a set of measures designed to secure and facilitate access to raw materials for EU states (Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions. Tackling the challenges in commodity markets and on raw materials - COM(2011) 25 final). This Communication presents an overview of the results achieved in each of the areas studied (global commodity markets and the raw materials initiative) and the measures meant to carry this work forward, which is part of the Europe 2020 Strategy of ensuring smart, durable and favourable to the inclusion and it is closely linked to the flagship initiative for a resourceefficient Europe in terms of resource use (COM (2010) 2020, "Europe 2020" and COM (2011) 21). …

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