Alternatives for the ‘Energy and Raw Materials Chapters’ in EU trade agreements
How trade agreements could strengthen human rights and environmental protection in the raw materials sector
The European Union is one of the largest importers of raw materials, with its companies being particularly dependent on the mining of minerals in other parts of the world. To secure a steady supply, the EU has on the one hand set up the Raw Materials Initiative, a programme to ensure access to critical raw materials, in particular minerals. On the other hand, the EU is establishing a network of free trade agreements that contain, in many cases, chapters dedicated to raw materials. These chapters aim to facilitate and protect raw materials exploitation by European companies abroad while paying scant regard to human rights or environmental protection.
This study challenges this approach and asks: What if sustainability and social welfare concerns were priority considerations for the treatment of raw materials in EU trade agree-ments? On this basis, the authors develop a series of recommendations how raw material chapters could contribute to making raw materials extraction, in particular mining, more sustainable. They lay out clearly and precisely what provisions could be included in a trade agreement so that the needs and wishes of those most affected by extractive activities take the centre ground. While the study addresses the issues at hand holistically, there are inevitably elements that needs further discussion, such as the treatment of artisanal mining.