top of page

Critical Raw Materials

What are Critical Raw Materials? 

Critical Raw Materials (CRMs) are those raw materials which are economically and strategically important for the European economy, but have a high-risk associated with their supply. Used in environmental technologies, consumer electronics, health, steel-making, defence, space exploration, and aviation, these materials are not only ‘critical’ for key industry sectors and future applications, but also for the sustainable functioning of the European economy.

It is important to note that these materials are not classified as ‘critical’ because these materials are considered scarce, rather they are classified as ‘critical’ because:

  1. They have a significant economic importance for key sectors in the European economy, such as consumer electronics, environmental technologies, automotive, aerospace, defence, health and steel.

  2. They have a high-supply risk due to the very-high import dependence and high level of concentration of set critical raw materials in particular countries

  3. There is a lack of (viable) substitutes, due to the very unique and reliable properties of these materials for existing, as well as future applications

Why are CRMs so important?  

Other than the high-risk associated with their supply, Critical Raw Materials are so important because they are ‘critical’ for the EU’s mega-sectors and for a wide range of commercial and governmental applications: green technology, telecommunications, space exploration, aerial imaging, aviation, medical devices, micro-electronics, transportation, defence, and other high-technology products and services. As a result, EU industry, the environment, and our quality and modern way of life is reliant on access and use of these Critical Raw Materials. This can be seen in the following sectors:







CRMs are essential for nearly all our electronic, life-saving and green technologies 

The Critical (& Strategic) Raw Materials list

In 2023, the European Commission produced its 5th list of Critical Raw Materials. This list still needs to be formally adopted.


Since the first version on 2011, new versions have been published every 3 years, with each revision adding or removing materials from the list, based on Economic importance and Supply risk criteria.

One of the novelties of the 2023 list is the inclusion of Strategic Raw Materials (SRM). This distinct qualification is based on the European Commission interest to focus on those raw materials that are used in strategic sectors such as renewable energy, digital, space and defence technologies and for those that are likely to create supply risks in the near future. 


SRMs can be distinguished due to its text being written in red.

Click on an image for more information.  

bottom of page