'American Voices' Series Launched With Rare-Earths Briefing
Joint event by Washington and Brussels offices
The Bertelsmann Foundation North America and the Bertelsmann Stiftung's Brussels office jointly launched their series of “American Voices” briefings in the European Parliament (EP) on February 4 with a discussion on rare-earths policy.
The briefing focused on the strategies that both sides of the Atlantic are pursuing to guarantee reliable supplies of these raw materials, and the role that the EP and Congress can play in shaping these strategies.
The briefing featured former Congressman and former Chairman of the US House of Representatives’ Science and Technology Committee Bart Gordon (Democrat-Tennessee); Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Reinhard Bütikofer (Greens, Germany); and Clint Cox, rare-earths expert and president of Chicago-based Anchor House, Inc. Tyson Barker, Bertelsmann Foundation North America senior project manager, moderated the event, which attracted more than 50 EP officials including several MEPs.
2010 was a watershed year for global trade in rare-earth elements, which are essential components in many of the West’s high-tech manufactured goods such as electric cars, computer screens, iPhones and wind turbines. China, which is home to between 95 and 97 percent of the world’s total current rare-earths supplies, announced last year that it would limit their export to the US, Europe and other countries. The US and Europe, once self-sufficient in these critical minerals, have become almost wholly dependent on Chinese rare-earth exports. The panelists agreed that rare earths represent an issue of critical importance.
“Deng Xiao Ping once said that the Middle East has oil. China has rare earths. The US and EU have to take this fact into consideration when planning for the security of future supplies,” warned Cox. Congressman Gordon added, “We have to use the rare earths issue as a catalyst to board our thinking on strategic minerals in general.”
The “American Series” is part of an ongoing dialogue to foster greater discussion on legislative issues in the EP. It is financed by a generous grant from the US Mission to the European Union.