Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Alikhan Smailov, Prime Minister of Kazakhstan, signed a Memorandum of Understanding establishing a partnership between the EU and Kazakhstan.
The agreement aims to ensure the development of a secure and sustainable supply of raw materials and refined materials. It also aims to develop renewable hydrogen and battery value chains, to boost the green and digital transformation of both sides’ economies.
President of the Commission Ursula von der Leyen said: “A secure and sustainable supply of raw materials, refined materials and renewable hydrogen is a key layer to help build a new, cleaner foundation for our economies, especially as we move away from our dependency on fossil fuels. This partnership with Kazakhstan shows Europe’s commitment to work with partner countries on our shared commitments to a greener and more resilient future in line with the Global Gateway Strategy and the objectives of the REPowerEU Plan. I would like to thank Prime Minister Smailov of Kazakhstan for his efforts and look forward to our cooperation.”
The partnership is centred around three areas of collaboration:
- Closer economic and industrial integration in the strategic value chains of raw materials, batteries and renewable hydrogen through, among others:
- Identifying joint projects throughout the respective value chains including recycling and attracting private investment;
- Aligning high environmental, social and governance (ESG) standards;
- Modernisation of mining and refining processes and technologies through the introduction of new technologies and sustainable practices.
- Increasing the resilience of raw material, battery and renewable hydrogen supply chains through, among others:
- Enhancing the transparency and information on measures related to investment, operations and exports relevant to the scope of this partnership.
- Closer bilateral cooperation on capacity-building, skills and research & innovation on topics through, among others:
- Decarbonisation of the critical raw materials value chain including by using renewable energy and digitalisation;
- Greening and sustainability of mining processes;
- Management of industrial mineral waste and extraction of critical raw materials from them.
The EU and Kazakhstan have committed to develop a Roadmap for 2023-2024, with concrete joint actions agreed within six months of the signature of the Partnership. These actions are to be carried out in close cooperation with relevant industrial and financial stakeholders from the EU Member States and Kazakhstan.
Tomorrow, President von der Leyen will meet with President of Namibia Hage Geingob to sign a similar partnership between the European Union and Namibia.
Raw materials, batteries and renewable hydrogen value chains are critical to the green and digital transitions. Critical Raw Materials are essential for the deployment of technologies like wind turbines (with rare earth magnets); batteries (lithium and cobalt) and semiconductors (polysilicon). Similarly, batteries are crucial to our energy transition and shift to zero-emissions transport, while renewable hydrogen technology supports the decarbonisation of hard to abate sectors and energy intensive industries.
The EU needs to secure a sustainable supply of raw materials, especially critical raw materials, as an essential prerequisite for delivering on green and clean energy objectives. As part of the Action Plan on Critical Raw Materials, the Commission has already started working to build partnerships with resource-rich third countries, making use of all external policy instruments and respecting its international obligations.
The Commission has already adopted two strategic partnerships on raw materials with Canada (June 2021) and Ukraine (July 2021). The partnerships allow both sides to advance trade and investments into a secure, sustainable and resilient raw materials value chain, which is key to achieving the transition to climate-neutral and digitalised economies. The implementation of the partnership with Ukraine, partially interrupted due to the Russian invasion of the country, will be re-started during the EU Raw Materials Week 2022.
In the margins of the UN General Assembly in September 2022, President von der Leyen and Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, President of Kazakhstan, expressed a willingness to deepen economic cooperation in the critical raw materials domain and agreed to intensify work on a Memorandum of Understanding, where the Global Gateway could play a role.