Raw Materials Diplomacy

Raw Materials Diplomacy

Access to raw materials on global markets is one of the European Commission’s priorities. In the first pillar of the EU Raw Materials Strategy the EU has committed to pursuing Raw Materials Diplomacy by reaching out to non-EU countries through strategic partnerships and policy dialogues. So far, the EU has developed relations with Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Greenland, Japan, Mexico, Peru, the United States, Uruguay, the EuroMed countries and the African Union.

What the Commission does

Many countries have important mineral reserves with strategic relevance for EU industry. In the EU Raw Materials Strategy, the Raw Materials Diplomacy aims to establish dialogues with the EU’s strategic partners in raw materials. It does so by using different established frameworks of cooperation bilaterally, regionally or multilaterally. These frameworks are based on signed Letters of Intent or other agreed political frameworks.

Letters of Intent and Missions for Growth

Former Commission Vice-President Antonio Tajani signed a number of important political agreements and letters of intent for raw materials (mostly during the Missions for Growth) with:

Policy dialogues

The Commission maintains policy dialogues with China, the US, Japan, Canada, Australia, and the countries of the African Union. Policy dialogues tackle raw materials production, trade, and recycling. They also tackle the criticality of raw materials, specifically rare earths.

International forums

  • Commodity Study Groups – the Commission is actively present in international commodity study groups that regularly meet in Lisbon to discuss market trends, exploration, extraction, production, and trade developments:
  • OECD – the Commission supports the work of the OECD on raw materials. This work concentrates on the raw materials trade, tackling export restrictions, promoting best practices in raw materials policies, and due diligence for responsible supply chains. The OECD provides economic analysis of trade in the sector and a forum for multilateral discussions.

Recent events

Forthcoming events

  • EU-China Working Group on Raw Materials (with China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology - MIIT) (Brussels, Fall 2015)

United States and Japan

Common interests in raw materials issues, as well as strong research and administrative capacity have resulted in successful cooperation between the EU and the US and Japan. In 2011, the EU, Japan, and the US launched a trilateral dialogue to promote cooperation in critical materials. The EU-US-Japan Trilateral Critical Materials Initiative aims to improve collaboration on extraction, use efficiency, encouraging recycling, and finding substitutes for critical raw materials.

On 29 November 2011, the Transatlantic Economic Council (TEC), agreed to a Raw Materials Work Plan, which includes the preparation of a joint inventory of raw materials data, and analysis of trade, e-waste recycling, and substitution.

Priority areas for co-operation:

  • critical/strategic raw materials with the aim to compare methodologies and criteria, and combine data collections;
  • geological knowledge agreed actions to compare and contrast how the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and European Geological Surveys collect, structure, and share data, and how classification systems could be made compatible with global standards (e.g. UN);
  • eco-design, recycling, substitution agreed actions include building on EU-US-Japan research cooperation on rare earth materials, discussions with manufacturers on how to better collect and recycle, better information sharing, recycling obstacles, recycling, and substitution efforts;
  • exchange of best practices in mining policies including technologies.


The first Trilateral Conference was organised in October 2011 in Washington and the second in March 2012 in Tokyo.

Latin America

In 2011, former Commission Vice-President Antonio Tajani signed Letters of Intent to launch bilateral cooperation on raw materials with Latin American countries: Chile and Uruguay (265 kB), and a joint press release with Argentina (107 kB) (2011), with Columbia and Mexico (May 2012), and with Peru (2013). The EU started to implement the dialogue with the Latin American countries at regional level with an event with Peru, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Brazil in Lima, Peru in March 2014.




Two dialogues related to raw materials exist between the EU and China. With the NDRC (National Development and Reform Commission), a Metals Working Group was established in 2003 within the NDRC-DG ENTR Industrial Policy Dialogue. With the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), a Working Group on Raw Materials was established in 2010 under the MIIT-DG ENTR dialogue and consultation mechanism on industrial sectors. In parallel a trade dialogue on steel takes place regularly. The objective of the dialogue is to increase mutual understanding, promote the exchange of information, address issues of common interest, facilitate cooperation in raw materials, and promote fair and competitive market conditions for global raw materials markets. The steel dialogue focusses on the trade aspects of the steel sector, as well as other raw materials.


  • EU-China Working Group on Raw Materials (with China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology - MIIT), Beijing, China, 10 October 2014

Forthcoming events:

EU-China Working Group on Raw Materials (with China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology - MIIT), Brussels, 2015


Greenland possesses significant potential in terms of raw materials Greenlandic authorities are eager to develop cooperation on mining and raw materials with the EU.

On 13 June 2012, former Commission Vice-President Antonio Tajani and Commissioner Piebalgs signed a Letter of Intent (124 kB) on cooperation on raw materials with Greenland in areas such as geological knowledge, and the environmental and societal impacts of mining.

A study on EU Needs with regards to cooperation with Greenland was also commissioned to support the dialogue.