Germany, France and Italy said Monday they would cooperate more closely on the procurement of raw materials as Europe seeks to reduce its reliance on imports from countries such as China.
|Germany, France and Italy agree raw materials cooperation, illustration photo/ Source: freepik.com |
"Better diversification of our raw material supply is economic security," German Economy Minister Robert Habeck said in a statement.
The European Union member states would set up a working group to discuss "the extraction, processing and recycling" of critical raw materials, Habeck said.
"We need to help our industries secure access to the raw materials they need to make a success of the digital and ecological transition," French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire also said in a statement.
The forum between the three largest economies in the EU would be used to "exchange information on our level of dependence, on the direction of our procurement, the securing of strategic stocks", Le Maire said in a press conference in Berlin alongside Habeck and their Italian counterpart Adolfo Urso.
The European Commission in March put forward proposals to secure supplies of materials, such as lithium or nickel, needed for the production of key technologies like batteries or solar panels.
Le Maire welcomed the Commission's proposal as a "first step", saying the cooperation between the three countries was an opportunity to "go further".
The EU's proposal will notably encourage the establishment of raw material mining and extraction projects in Europe.
France has already created a 500-million-euro ($545-million) fund for investments in critical raw material projects, while Rome was also making one billion euros available for a similar plan.
Habeck evoked the possibility of establishing a similar fund in Germany, although there was "not yet an agreement" between the ministries on the idea.
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