Please find the List of EUCERS' current and past Seminars at the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-University of Bonn below:


The Geopolitics of Critical Raw Materials

Summer Semester 2021

by Prof. Dr. Friedbert Pflüger


Critical raw materials (CRMs) are essential for key future sectors, industries and technologies, including agriculture and food production, renewable energies, battery development, electric cars, robotics, "Industry 4.0", digital technologies, and artificial intelligence, just to name a few. As a result, global demand for CRMs will significantly increase in the coming years, intensifying global competition. Against this backdrop, the issue of the importance of the supply security of CRMs has become a key item on the European Commission’s political agenda in recent years.

Germany, the EU’s largest economy, is already one of the world's fifth largest importers of raw materials and is a 100% net importer of metal ores and concentrates. At the same time, however, the global supply of many CRMs is limited to a few countries (which are also often politically unstable). In addition, geo-economic and geopolitical import dependencies are increasing with the rising demand for raw materials - and with them the risks and vulnerabilities of the European economy. China already dominates many value chains and is vying to control entire global value chains for key technologies, including the necessary demand for CRMs. The increase in future European CRM import dependencies will also have an impact on Europe’s climate protection efforts, as well as foreign and development policies. A political answer will have to be found very soon.


Initial steps are being taken. Both the German government and the EU want to pay greater attention to the issue of a stable supply of CRMs in the future, on the one hand, and to strengthen domestic self-sufficiency, on the other. The German government updated its raw materials strategy in January 2020 and the EU launched a Battery Alliance and, more recently in October 2020, a European Raw Materials Alliance, which aims to achieve "strategic autonomy" in order to strengthen CRM supply security while meeting the "green" ambitions of a sustainable industrial policy with a stronger consideration of the ecological footprint in extraction, processing and end products ("sustainable mining"). But, will these initiatives be enough to diversify the EU’s CRM supplies while meeting climate objectives? If not, what additional policy measures are necessary? How will these efforts impact current relations with China and other suppliers? What countries could be potential new suppliers?


This seminar will tackle these and many other questions through a series of case studies that will take a closer look at the geopolitical issues arising from CRM supply dependency. It will provide students with an opportunity to assess security, economic and other risks, but also opportunities, associated with the EU’s efforts to diversify CRM imports, build its own value chains and form strategic partnerships.

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