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Conflicts over raw material extraction in the EU

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Conflicts over raw material extraction in the EU

The European Union wants to counteract climate change with the Green Deal program. Central elements of the EU climate policy are an energy turnaround and a turnaround in transport. For their realization (keyword: batteries) special raw materials are needed, e.g. As lithium or graphite. Most of the raw materials required for the energy transition are currently imported from countries outside the EU. The EU wants to change that and, in the future, also wants to mine raw materials within the EU on a larger scale. After all, larger deposits of rare earths have been discovered in Sweden, in Portugal there are large lithium deposits and in Finland graphite deposits. With the mining of these raw materials within the EU, the EU would become less dependent on imports from third countries. On paper, that sounds plausible and conclusive. In reality, however, it is somewhat different. In both Portugal and Finland there is significant resistance to the extraction of the respective raw materials from the people living in or near the extraction areas. Oliver Noyan has investigated these conflicts and, in his article published on the Euractiv portal, describes why local people in Finland and Portugal are resisting new mining projects. One way of resolving these conflicting interests – without the raw materials there is no inevitable energy transition, but on the other hand the local people also have legitimate interests and protective rights that must be respected – the article concludes that greater democratization of the approval procedures could be in place (and thus also this part of the economy), which does much more justice to the interests of the local population than currently seems to be the case. The EU would then be called upon here, since it has the widest regulatory powers in the area of ​​the economy and environmental protection.

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