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Raw materials

Raw materials are the basis of a large number of industrial value chains in the EU. Specific raw materials are needed to make a wide range of industrial goods such as car engines, mobile phones or wind turbines.

EU raw materials' industry in a nutshell

  • A large number of industries use raw materials as inputs, providing a total added value of €1300 billion.
  • 30 million people employed in the raw materials' industrial sector
  • A sustainable supply of particular raw materials is of crucial importance for the development of green technologies

EU-Trade raw materials in figures (2013)

In 2013, EU-28 trade in raw materials amounted to:
(billion Euros)
Trade Total EU imports Total EU exports
EU-28 trade in raw materials (including energy products) 704 294
EU-28 trade in non-energy raw materials 205 173

EU Trade policy and raw materials

Raw materials play a significant role for the EU trade policy. In concrete terms, the European Commission developed a fully-fledged strategy for raw materials, which was outlined in the 2008 Communication entitled the Raw Materials Initiative. This was revised in February 2011 in a Communication, which further boosted the integration of raw material priorities in EU policies.

EU Trade policy is actively committed to ensure that the international raw materials markets operate in a free and transparent way. For this purpose, the EU’s trade strategy relies on three pillars:

  • Definition of the rules of the game through bilateral and multilateral negotiations
  • Enforcing the rules and tackling market barriers when required
  • Promotion of the debate on raw materials, both in bilateral and multilateral settings.

Results on raw materials