What Are Critical Raw Materials?

Critical Raw Materials (CRMs) are those raw materials which are economically and strategically important for the European economy, but have a high-risk associated with their supply. Used in environmental technologies, consumer electronics, health, steel-making, defence, space exploration, and aviation, these materials are not only ‘critical’ for key industry sectors and future applications, but also for the sustainable functioning of the European economy.

It is important to note that these materials are not classified as ‘critical’ because these materials are considered scarce, rather they are classified as ‘critical’ because:

  1. they have a significant economic importance for key sectors in the European economy, such as consumer electronics, environmental technologies, automotive, aerospace, defence, health and steel.
     

  2. they have a high-supply risk due to the very-high import dependence and high level of concentration of set critical raw materials in particular countries
     

  3. there is a lack of (viable) substitutes, due to the very unique and reliable properties of these materials for existing, as well as future applications

Why Are CRMs So Important?

Other than the high-risk associated with their supply, Critical Raw Materials are so important because they are ‘critical’ for the EU’s mega-sectors and for a wide range of commercial and governmental applications: green technology, telecommunications, space exploration, aerial imaging, aviation, medical devices, micro-electronics, transportation, defence, and other high-technology products and services.

 

As a result, EU industry, the environment, and our quality and modern way of life is reliant on access and use of these Critical Raw Materials. This can be seen in the sectors shown below. 

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