A European Union commissioner said this week that European banks should step up to fund aluminium and other metals needed in transitioning to sustainable energy in order to help meet the objectives of the upcoming Green Deal industrial plan.
European Commissioner Thierry Breton told a gathering of top financial firms at the Berlaymont hotel in Brussels that the green transition of Europe faces two major hurdles. First, European firms are relying too heavily on the People’s Republic of China for raw materials. Secondly, European firms are likely expecting too great an increase in demand.
“I want you to invest in operations in the critical raw materials value chain.”
Speaking to lenders including Société Générale, Deutsche Bank and Santander Group, Breton said that the need for greater energy security has been underlined by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine a year ago and the resulting search for new raw materials suppliers from other areas. The Russian Federation has been a longstanding supplier to Europe of aluminium and other important metals.
“Sometimes you faced challenges: here in Europe, because of local opposition, long procedures or lack of economic case; or in the rest of the world, where you may be accused of supporting projects with low environmental and social standards.”
Breton is currently coordinating the passage of the Critical Raw Materials Act, which requires the cooperation 27 member states. As a result of the difficulty of getting over two dozen governments, Breton says that Europe is falling behind countries like the United States and Canada. Both the US and Canadian governments are mulling their own clean energy and energy transition bills.
Preceding Breton’s discussion were comments by Ursula von der Leyen, head of the European Commission, who said last week that funding is available from the European Sovereignty Fund to invest in local firms to keep them on the continent.
Ultimately Breton wishes to include Ukraine into the build out as well.
“Of course, we can’t only invest in Europe,” he opined. “That is why we have established strategic partnerships on critical raw materials with Canada, Ukraine, Namibia and Kazakhstan. And advancing in discussions with other countries.”