Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2011-03-08-Speech-2-742-000"

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"Madam President, in the short and medium term, our dependency on the import of rare earth elements (REEs) from China certainly presents a problem. I cannot see that Europe has a strategic weakness and it must not remain dependent. To put it more bluntly, in some ways, the Chinese are doing us a favour by making it entirely obvious to us that we need to escape from our current position of dependency. Therefore, we must not make the additional mistake of creating antagonism between Europe and China. There are opportunities for cooperation in this area. However, when we look towards Asia, we should also take Japan into consideration. Over the last year, Japan has been in a more difficult position with regard to access to REEs than Europe has. Japan has also reacted more quickly and more effectively. The Japanese Government has spent USD 1 billion on research into the substitution and recycling of REEs. How much are we making available as part of the Seventh Framework Programme? It goes without saying that we need trade policy. We must also develop our own reserves, where they are available. However, in my opinion, the strategic focus of our policy on REEs must be innovation, raw material efficiency and technological leadership. We need mandatory targets for raw material efficiency. We also need specific, concrete plans for recycling REEs. The Commission’s communication makes no direct mention of recycling. This is no longer a solution for the future, but one which we need now. Many companies have already been doing this for some time, including Rhodia, BASF, Osram and many others. Substitution is another key factor. Even China is now beginning to invest in substitutes for REEs, because it is obvious that it cannot continue using these substances at its current rate, even to meet its own requirements. We must be quick to make the most of the opportunities offered by the current situation and we must not complain that these opportunities are open to us."@en1

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