EWB: Could EU regulation on batteries affect lithium mining in Serbia?


Last year, the European Commission (EC) suggested to the EU Council and the European Parliament (EP) to adopt a new 'Regulation on Batteries and Waste Batteries,' which could affect the potential extraction of lithium in Serbia if batteries produced from it are placed on the EU market, the European Western Balkans (EWB) website wrote on Monday.

The Regulation, which requires companies to adhere to environmental standards in their supply chains, is still to be adopted.

The EC confirmed that to the EWB, which addressed it to clarify the EU’s position on the Rio Tinto’s ‘Jadar Project’ in western Serbia.

The EWB recalled Ana Pisonero, an EC spokesperson statement to N1 that the project was „a very good opportunity for the socio-economic development of Serbia if the highest environmental standards are met.“

„We welcome the announcement of the Government of Serbia that it will apply the highest standards of environmental protection when it comes to this project.“ EU support for Serbia is conditioned by its regulatory framework and practices, which are entirely in line with EU environmental practices,“ Pisonero said at the time.

The statement, the EWB added, especially the part about the project as a good development opportunity, provoked adverse reactions from Serbia’s public, and people blocked the roads for two weekends in a row, demanding the withdrawal of the controversial laws.

Meanwhile, the EWB has received further clarifications regarding the EU’s stance on the ‘Jadar Project’ and its impact on the environment and was advised to look at another EC document adopted in September 2021 titled ‘EU Principles for Sustainable Raw Materials.’

According to the EWB from Brussels, the EC adopted in December 2020 a proposal for a ‘Regulation on Batteries and Waste Batteries,’ which will require companies that place batteries for electric vehicles on the EU market to adhere to standards related to raw material supply chains, social and environmental risks, such as air, water, land and biodiversity risks.

„These requirements, which were developed based on OECD guidelines, will apply to all batteries that are placed on the EU market, regardless of their origin, including third countries, such as Serbia. We will continue to monitor this project closely, „an EU official told the EWB.

The Regulation is pending approval by the Council of the European Union, which consists of ministers from all member states and the EP.

Changes to the draft regulation are possible before its adoption, the EWB said.

The latest information about the Regulation says it is still being discussed in the EU Council, where 13 video conferences have already been held and will continue for the next six months when France chairs the Council.

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