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EU and Australia sign new partnership in critical raw materials

This week, the European Commission has announced that the EU and Australia have signed a new partnership in critical raw materials.

According to the Commission, “This MoU is a leap forward in securing more sustainable critical raw materials for the EU, while boosting investment in Australia.”

It further notes that “this partnership aims to support several common objectives, while based on mutual benefits. In particular, it seeks to enable the EU to diversify its supplies of materials necessary for the green and digital transitions, whilst contributing to the development of Australia’s domestic critical minerals sector. The partnership covers the entire critical and strategic minerals value chain: exploration, extraction, processing, refining, recycling, and processing of extractive waste.

In addition to jointly developing projects along the entire value chain in the EU and in Australia, the partnership will also explore cooperation in countries where the EU and Australia have mutual interests, focusing on reducing environmental impacts and benefiting local communities. Additionally, it promotes innovative and digital technologies and services for mining, and other projects along the critical minerals value chain.”

The next step is to develop a roadmap with concrete actions to put the Strategic Partnership into practice, over the next six months.

Previously, the EU has signed such agreements with Canada and Ukraine in 2021, with Kazakhstan and Namibia in 2022, with Argentina, Chile, Zambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Greenland in 2023, and with Rwanda, Norway and Uzbekistan in 2024.

Last year, attempts to conclude a free trade agreement between the EU and Australia had failed. Then, German Export-oriented industries fumed over the failure, which may have removed barriers for car and machinery exporters. Then, Karl Haeusgen, president of German machinery producers association VDMA, commented that the negotiations failed over a “ridiculous issue”, adding “a little more sovereignty on the part of the EU and then this at least temporary failure of the negotiations could easily have been avoided.”