The Kazakhstan–EU partnership on Critical Raw Materials


A Call for Transparency and Accountability

This paper was written by Mariya Lobacheva (Echo/PWYP) and Tatyana Sedova (Transparency Accountability Consulting), and coordinated by Germanwatch.

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The EU’s strategic raw materials diplomacy and partnerships are on the rise, especially as the EU has adopted the Critical Raw Materials Act to secure the supply for its renewable energy, digitalisation, defence, and space industries. In this context, Germanwatch published two opinion papers written by authors from Kazakhstan and Colombia to delineate and strengthen their perspectives on the EU’s raw materials diplomacy.

Kazakhstan and the EU initiated the Critical Raw Materials partnership in 2022. In this opinion paper, two Kazakhstani transparency experts, Mariya Lobacheva and Tatyana Sedova explain how the partnership was set up without properly informing and consulting the public. They also note a lack of transparency in its implementation. The authors state that transparency, public participation, and oversight is necessary if co-operation on raw materials will not only benefit the Global North but also the people of Kazakhstan. Furthermore, the impacts of mining and raw materials processing such as negative environmental and social effects need to be addressed. Lobacheva and Sedova therefore conclude that the EU should:

– ensure relevant documents of the partnership are published in English, Russian, and Kazakh;
– require that future agreements and contracts in the framework of the partnership are discussed with civil society stakeholders and local communities, especially to assess potential threats to the environment;
– limit the confidentiality clause of the Memorandum of Understanding that the partnership is based on to technological aspects as an exception, instead of extending it to the entire agreement;
– ensure that the implementation of projects is transparent and subjected to public monitoring at all stages (implementation reports should be published and updated regularly);
– use available transparency tools, in particular the EITI for better critical raw materials governance

About the authors:

Mariya Lobacheva is programme director of the Kazakhstani NGO Echo, a member of Publish What You Pay. Lobacheva has been working in the non-governmental sector on issues of transparency and accountability in natural resource management for many years. Lobacheva also represents civil society on the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) International Board.

Tatyana Sedova is an expert in extractive industries governance, civic participation, and capacity-building with about 15 years of experience in extractive sector reforms (EITI, the World Bank, PWYP). Tatyana is the founder and director of Transparency Accountability Consulting.


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