A Partnership of Equals?


A Partnership of Equals? How to strengthen the EU’s Critical Raw Materials Strategic Partnerships

The European Union’s (EU) Critical Raw Minerals Act (CRMA) is an important part of the bloc’s attempt to address the challenges of securing sustainable access to Critical Raw Materials (CRM). The aim is to reduce dependency on single third-country suppliers and promote circularity and sustainable sourcing practices. One element will be the foreseen Strategic Partnerships with resource rich countries.

This briefing considers ways to ensure these Partnerships benefit local development, respect and uphold environmental sustainability, and local communities’ and Indigenous Peoples’ rights, and include strong transparency measures. While we welcome the EU’s ambition to step up cooperation on raw materials, we find that the Partnerships presently foreseen must improve significantly if they are to meet these ambitions.

In this briefing, PWYP members are raising issues regarding the lack of transparency and participation around those partnership.

Mariya Lobacheva,  from PWYP Kazakhstan:

“Despite widespread media coverage of the signing of the MOU between the EU and Kazakhstan, more detailed information is hard to find. The MOU itself is published only by the EU and in English, in a non-machine-readable format. The Government of Kazakhstan, while reporting on the signing of memoranda and agreements, does not publish these documents. Neither side has published the Roadmap, although its approval has also been widely publicised. The Kazakh society is put in front of the fact about the concluded agreements without disclosing the details. Local communities are only involved in the dialogue at later stages, when the project is already underway, and information is presented in a one-sided manner. Civil society in Kazakhstan believes that the EU-Kazakhstan agreements should serve as a driver of transparency and accountability and ensure that citizens are involved in the discussion process at the earliest stages. Given the problems with civic space in Kazakhstan, the EU should insist in any agreements that all procedures leading to increased transparency and accountability are followed. This is the only way to achieve cooperation that benefits the whole society and does not become another exploitation of resources in favour of the global North and local corrupt officials.”

Angela Asuncion, from PWYP Asia-Pacific Transition Mineral Accountability Working Group:

“Truly win-win critical mineral partnerships that benefit people and the planet must be climate-sensitive, community-centred and justice-based. A truly just energy transition guarantees that climate-vulnerable and marginalised communities hosting the raw materials necessary for a low-carbon future are foremost protected from the adverse externalities of the critical mineral boom and compounding impacts of the climate crisis. The EU CRMA and associated Strategic Partnerships must ensure mandatory human and environmental rights due diligence mechanisms are upheld throughout the length of the green energy and technology supply chain.”

Share this content:

Related Resources