ICM: What is the role of a national federation like yours?
Roman Stiftner: My organization represents 100% of the companies operating in the non-ferrous metals and mining and steel industries in Austria and is the result of the merger between two federations. We are very active on both national and EU levels and provide full advisory services, information and advocacy in multiple domains, including labour and environmental law, all trade issues and we are a member of the Eurometaux and other European networks in our industrial sector.
ICM: What are the key challenges you see for your member companies?
RS: Our companies are acting on a global market so national and European legislation needs to create a level playing field for all. The environmental legislation in Europe is very restrictive and at the same time there is protectionism still in place in geographical areas outside Europe, so I believe the European institutions need to be bolder on the international stage.
ICM: What about batteries and the circular economy?
RS: There are several issues here. One of the key concerns for industry is access to raw materials in Europe which is proving very vulnerable in places. I also believe that there can be no circular economy in Europe without primary raw materials, both recycled and primary materials are essential in particular for the new mobility applications, and ideally the sourcing of new material should start in Europe.
ICM: How do you see this evolving in the future?
RS: There are still huge challenges in the collection recycling of lithium batteries due to volumes and cost issues and also the huge numbers of different substances used. Innovative technologies need to be developed and deployed in order for Europe to have a chance to once again be at the forefront of the new economy. It is now urgent to develop commercially viable lithium battery recycling and strategic value chains here to enable Europe to increase its resilience and independence on the international stage in the future.