At the end of the Czech Presidency of the Council of the EU, it will be two years since the Commission proposed the new Batteries Regulation. While it is key that negotiating teams can discuss openly on the measures of the proposed Regulation, RECHARGE – the European industry association for advanced rechargeable and lithium batteries – encourages the Presidency to pick up the pace and conclude the Regulation under its six-months term. Developing a competitive and sustainable batteries industry in Europe is urgent: it will contribute to energy security and the strategic resilience of the EU economy – both of which are priorities of the Presidency.
Today the Czech Presidency presents its programme to the European Parliament. Following the important progress made during the French Presidency during which the Council reached a general approach, the Czech Republic needs to prioritise this important file in inter-institutional negotiations. The Presidency will now be pivotal in ensuring the trilogue discussions continue and conclude with a compromised reached. We expect that the measures in the final Regulation will deliver on advancing the decarbonisation and energy transition, and that the European batteries value chain becomes a competitive global leader, able to contribute to energy security on the continent and to a resilient EU economy.
The current geopolitical context has demonstrated the vulnerability of our energy system and the crucial necessity for the EU to reduce its dependencies in value chains of strategic interest. Such an approach will be essential to prevent potential future crises from detrimentally impacting key EU industries. “Importantly, existing dependencies in the energy sector should not be replicated in the case of batteries”, stated Claude Chanson, General Manager of RECHARGE.
“We are calling for a swift development and strengthening of the batteries industry on our continent. Against the background of this new context, which highlights the urgency of fostering industrial resilience, the EU must decrease its high dependency on imported batteries. Europe accounts only for a small share of around 7% of the global battery production today, while China takes the lion’s share”, added Chanson. When moving away from oil and natural gas, both in the energy and transport sectors, Europe should simultaneously become autonomous and support the electrification and renewables development with a European battery ecosystem.
Creating a strong batteries industry will depend on long-term investments and a fit-for-purpose regulatory framework. About 800,000 new jobs are expected to be created before 2030 if Europe manages to increase its market share to 20%. The new Batteries Regulation needs to support this industrial dynamic and ensure a competitive and leading European value chain, able to decrease European dependency on imported batteries.
However, the intrinsic difficulty of enforcing several of the proposed design requirements in the Regulation is likely to create an uneven playing field, in which the EU industry will bear the burden of the regulatory constraints, while control of compliance with the sustainability rules for imported products is expected to be insufficient. “Enshrining too many constraints and regulatory hurdles in the Batteries Regulation within a too short timeline would risk setting back value chain efforts and planned investments and could ultimately endanger reaching the EU’s strategic resilience and energy security objectives”, concluded Chanson.
Thus, RECHARGE is calling on policymakers to thoroughly take into account the value chain’s recommendations for the inter-institutional negotiations under the Czech Presidency.