Report

Securing Critical Materials for Critical Sectors: Policy options for the Netherlands and the European Union

December 10th 2020 - 09:12

For the fulfilment of their geopolitical ambitions, both the Netherlands and the European Union are highly dependent on a secure supply of critical raw materials and manufactured goods. This is problematic given the fact that other countries, in particular China, control large market shares in these sectors. In this extensive report, Irina Patrahau, Michel Rademaker, Hugo van Manen and Lucia van Geuns, together with Ankita Singhvi and René Kleijn from the Centrum voor Milieuwetenschappen (CML), identify strategies and policy instruments that the Netherlands, in collaboration with the EU, can apply in order to reduce important dependence on critical raw materials.  

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The energy-, transport- and digital technologies-sectors, and more specifically, wind turbines, photovoltaic solar power, geothermal, energy grid infrastructure, carbon capture & storage, electric vehicles and semiconductors, are all highly dependent on China, not only in terms of technology, but also in terms of components and raw materials.  

In the Netherlands and other Western countries, the industry has been securing critical supplies independently from governments, whereas China has been pursuing a long-term strategy which deeply involves the government in the industrial extraction and production of raw materials. Furthermore, China is currently – and has been for the past decade - employing a wide range of strategies in order to develop states of domestic supply chains, secure access to strategic resources abroad as well as to enhance their grip on complete values chains.  

What can the Netherlands do to secure its supply of critical materials and technologies? First and foremost, the Netherlands needs to prioritize the development of a long-term national strategy that reflects the needs of industrial actors in securing their supply chains. Other recommendations include supporting industrial alliances, multilateral and multilevel programming and policy coherence, and more.  

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Michel Rademaker is the deputy Director of HCSS. He has fifteen years of hands-on experience as an officer in The Royal Netherlands Army, where he held various military operational and staff posts and also served a term in former Yugoslavia. He has a masters degree obtained at the University of Tilburg. After leaving the armed forces, Mr. Rademaker went on to work at the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO) as a project and program manager and senior policy advisor on security topics for ten years. Eg. as NATO RTO project leader, he and his team developed serious gaming assessment methods and conducted several assessments of security technologies, and worked on numerous strategic security topics.
Hugo van Manen holds a Master’s degree (MSc) in International Public Management and Policy from the Erasmus University in Rotterdam and a Bachelor’s degree in International Studies from Leiden University. Prior to joining HCSS, Hugo worked as a consultant at Ecorys, where he was involved in several EU-commissioned projects within the field of civil protection, including the International Forum to Advance First Responder Innovation, DRIVER+, and DG ECHO’s peer review program.
Lucia van Geuns is an experienced energy professional who held research positions at the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO) and the Clingendael International Energy Programme (CIEP) after a career with Royal Dutch Shell (1980- 2002). She has a background in geoscience, petroleum engineering, economics & planning. Her research focuses on international energy market developments, energy transition issues and climate change policies. In her present role, she is a frequent speaker on (international) energy markets for various public and private stakeholders.