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Remarks by Commissioner Sinkevičius on the Green Deal - Sustainable batteries for a circular and climate neutral economy

Met dank overgenomen van Europese Commissie (EC), gepubliceerd op donderdag 10 december 2020.

Good morning everyone, and thank you for tuning in.

Thank you Vice-president Šefčovič for outlining the importance of the proposal which Commission is presenting today in a wider context.

From my point of view I would like to start by reiterating that this proposal and batteries in general are essential to the green transition. They are also key to the Commission's zero pollution ambition, and of course for climate neutrality.

With the European Green Deal we got on the highway to a truly green future, and we need sustainable batteries for this ride.

So what we're proposing is a forward-looking regulatory framework. It's integrated and inclusive, with an eye on sustainability across the whole value chain.

It's a proposal that breaks new ground and allows the EU to lead by example.

Our proposal on batteries - putting a life cycle approach and circularity at the centre of our legislative framework - will be a blueprint that we can use for other value chains as well. I am in particular thinking about our future Sustainable Product Policy Initiative.

So - what is a sustainable battery? What does it mean in practice?

It's a battery made of raw materials from a responsible source or from recycling. It's manufactured using clean energy, it contains minimal amounts of hazardous substances, it's designed for a long life, and at the end of that life, it will be collected and repurposed or recycled.

We want to guarantee this through two types of measures in our innovative toolbox. I say innovative because in addition to using tried and tested instruments, we introduce new, ground-braking measures.

On the one hand, we want all batteries placed on the European Union market to meet common requirements, regardless of where they were manufactured. And we propose, for the first time, due diligence, carbon footprint and mandatory green public procurement requirements.

And on the other hand, we want a more circular battery chain. And for that, we want to make producers and other economic operators responsible for the management of end-of-life batteries.

The EU scores quite highly on recycling portable and automotive batteries. But that isn't true for lithium-based batteries.

We want to change this. The number of lithium batteries available for recycling is projected to increase 700 times in the next 20 years. This will be a huge challenge, but also an opportunity: we see that the prices of lithium have doubled over the recent years.

We want to recover higher amounts of lithium, and also of cobalt, copper, and lead. And to boost the demand for recycled materials and their quality through recycled content targets.

The EU recycling industry already has that potential, and the Commission is convinced that the targets in this proposal are a push for further innovation.

We are also clarifying the situation of second-life batteries, removing barriers to repurposing and remanufacturing, with the necessary safeguards.

When you put these elements together, you have a robust, modern, harmonised framework. It will bring stability and legal certainty, which are both key ingredients for greater sustainability.

This is vital for economic operators across the whole battery value chain, and it will open the way for the large-scale investments we need to respond to market demand.

There are huge changes ahead. An explosion in the size of the batteries market. What we propose will enable that change, and ensure its sustainability in the longer term.

Now I pass the floor on to Commissioner Breton who will certainly tell you much more about the importance of this proposal to the European industry.

Thank you.

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