Ensuring access to a stable supply of a number of raw materials has become a serious challenge for domestic and regional economies with limited production, the EU economy alike. Reliable and unconstrained access to certain raw materials is an ever more serious concern. In order to tackle this challenge, the European Commission has established a list of Critical Raw Materials (CRMs) for the EU, which is regularly reviewed and updated. In its Communication COM(217) 490 final of September 13, 2017, the European Commission presented an updated list of 27 critical raw materials for the EU as a result of a third assessment based on a refined methodology developed by the Commission. Economic Importance (EI) and Supply Risk (SR) have remained the two main parameters to determine the criticality of a given raw material. The list of critical raw materials for the EU includes raw materials that reach or exceed the thresholds for both parameters set by the European Commission. The only exception is coking coal (included in the list of critical raw materials for the first time in 2014) which, although not reaching the economic importance threshold, has been conditionally kept on the 2017 list for the sake of caution. Should it not fully meet this criterion, it will be withdrawn from the list during the next assessment.
The article discusses the most important changes to the methodology used in the third review and their impacts on the coking coal criticality assessment. It presents the geographical structure of coking coal global production and consumption as well as the degree to which the EU is reliant on coking coal imports. Raw materials, even if not classified as critical raw materials, are essential for the European economy as they are at the beginning of manufacturing value chains. Their availability may change rapidly due to developments in trade flows or trade policy, which reveals the general need for the diversification of supply.