Study- Legal framework for mineral extraction and permitting procedures for exploration and exploitation in the EU
Back to the beginning of the global economic and financial crisis, the European Union realized its dependency on third countries and decided that mineral supply security should be a priority of the EU. The second pillar of the Raw Materials Initiative "fostering sustainable supply of raw materials within the European Union" covers the provision of raw materials inside the EU.
However, lack of policies and complicated mining and/or environmental permitting procedures are limiting the access to minerals since many years (less permits, short duration of permits, expensive, time-consuming procedures for both operator and authorities). During the last 20 years the European Commission has received several complaints regarding the existing lack of transparency in the permitting and concessions procedures.
There exist cases of unequal treatment on the basis of nationality, administrative barriers to the freedom of establishment, unreasonable timeframes and a multiplicity of administrative "stops" to get an authorization to explore or exploit the resources. By improving the policy and regulatory framework conditions of the extractive industries in the 28 Member States the European Union will foster the supply security of raw materials within Europe; although mining activities are an exclusive competence of Member States. It is the duty of the European Union to apply the principles of the Treaty (particularly transparency, equal treatment and non-discrimination and proportionality) and to carefully analyse the 28 national mining legislations and subsequent administrative procedures. It will be essential for the European Commission to know exactly what the constraints are.
With the information and analyses of every single national mining and other relevant legislation, the European Commission will eventually have a clear and better picture of the current situation in all 28 Member States.