Remarks by Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič at the press conference with the Norwegian business press.

(Source: European Commission)

“Check against delivery”

Good afternoon. I would like to begin by expressing my deep condolences to the people of Norway, following the appalling attack here, in Oslo. My thoughts are with the friends and family of those who lost their lives, and I wish a speedy recovery to the wounded.

All of us must stand against hatred in all forms – and the European Union stands shoulder to shoulder with Norway in this sad moment.

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Now let me thank Minister Vestre for being such an outstanding host and for a series of productive and forward-looking exchanges.

Today, we are bringing cooperation between the EU and Norway to another level, as we join forces to create a strategic partnership on battery technologies and critical raw materials.

This concrete result comes only four months after the idea of an EU-Norwegian Green Alliance – centred around the European Green Deal – was tabled by the Commission President and Norway’s Prime Minister.

I am convinced that today’s stepping stone is of strategic value. Following Russia’s brutal aggression against Ukraine, Europe’s green and digital transitions have taken on a security dimension and we are moving into a higher gear.

In practice, I am delighted that Norway – with its impressive dedication to zero-emission mobility and energy storage – will now become a firm part of the European battery success story, by boosting both our political engagement and business ties.

Five years in, the European Battery Alliance has over 700 members and promotes over a hundred industrial projects across the EU, including some 20 Gigafactories.

With some 130 billion euros in investment along the entire value chain, Europe has become a global battery hotspot, set to produce enough batteries for 11 million cars annually by 2030. This would make us the world’s number two player.

Any technological advancement, however – in batteries and beyond – is dependent on stable and sustainable access to critical raw materials. Put simply, without them, there is no green and digital transformation. That brings me to the second area of our strengthened cooperation – thanks to Norway’s unique position.

Like with batteries, we will explore new business opportunities, forge raw materials projects, and step up research and innovation, including through a series of joint events.

To counter our over-dependence on imports of critical raw materials from third countries, such as China, the Commission aims to table an innovative legislative act, as part of its broader package on critical raw materials.

In practice, this should help us diversify supply sources, and boost domestic sourcing and processing – with sustainability and circularity at the heart of these efforts.

Just imagine: the EU’s use of lithium, a key component for electric mobility, is projected to increase by 3,500% by 2050. Chile currently holds 40% of the world’s lithium deposits, while China hosts 45% of global lithium refining capacities.

However, according to industry, if Europe fixes its shortcomings, recycling could become a major source of metals and minerals, crucial for new technologies, by 2040.

So it’s not only worth a try, but it is imperative that we make a step change. And the Commission is ready to engage with Norwegian experts, too, in the run up to the adoption of our legislative proposal on critical raw materials.

In this context, it was inspiring for me to visit the Hydrovolt facility in Fredrikstad this morning – a perfect example of cooperation between Norway and the EU, in this case Sweden. We need industrial projects precisely like this one – devoted to recovering valuable materials and reusing them, while running exclusively on renewable energy.

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Before I conclude, let me express my appreciation for the commitment of the Norwegian government to the European Economic Area Agreement, which forms the basis for our valuable partnership.

I very much welcome that earlier this month, on 16 June, we opened negotiations between the EU and the EEA on the financial mechanism for 2021-2027, aimed at reducing economic and social disparities, in line with the twin transitions.

The next EEA Council – in November – would be another good opportunity to showcase that we want to keep deepening our close partnership.

I can assure you that in me, you will have a staunch advocate of making the EU-Norwegian partnership as deep and as strategic as possible.

Once again, thank you for your hospitality, cooperation, and friendship.

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