Project SyndicateProject Syndicate

Europe must get serious about critical minerals

By Werner Hoyer

3 min read

informed Summary

  1. Access to strategically important raw materials has historically been a key determinant of economic wealth and development.

LUXEMBOURG – Throughout human history, raw materials have played a key role in economic development, international relations, and the destinies of entire nations and civilizations. From precious metals (silver and gold) and agricultural commodities (sugar, rubber, silk, and spices) to energy resources such as oil and gas, changes in demand spurred by technological developments have rewritten global trade patterns, shifted fortunes, and often fueled conflict and exploitation.

In the 2020s, we are becoming increasingly reliant on a new set of critical raw materials, including rare-earth elements (REEs) and metals such as lithium, gallium, and germanium. These commodities’ use in everything from solar panels, batteries, and wind turbines to computer chips for industry and defense makes them vital to the green and digital transitions, which in turn will determine our future on this planet.

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