Semiconductors made from these materials are used in chips for vehicles, telecommunications or defense.
MADRID, 29 Oct. (EUROPA PRESS) -
The European Commission is "closely monitoring" the limitations on the export of gallium and germanium by China that came into force last August, which is why Brussels has asked the Asian giant to "apply" export controls that comply with the rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO) to prevent the measure from having an "overly broad scope".
This was indicated by the European Commissioner for the Internal Market, Thierry Breton, in a written response to MEP Isabella Tovaglieri, a member of the European parliamentary group Identity and Democracy, considered far-right.
Last August, China increased the restrictions applied to the export of gallium and germanium - two key metals in the manufacture of semiconductors and other basic components for the energy transition - after the United States and other large microprocessor manufacturers such as Japan and Countries Bajos announced limitations on the export of technology.
"The Commission is closely monitoring the situation and assessing its possible impact on affected parties through the EU Delegation in Beijing, through close contacts with industry, Member States and other affected partners," Breton stressed. .
Along these lines, the commissioner has indicated that the EU has raised this issue with China within the framework of the WTO and also that the matter has been addressed through the EU ambassador in China.
Breton acknowledges in the parliamentary response that the EU depends "largely on one or a few suppliers for a series of critical raw materials", which is why the European Commission proposed, among other measures, the Critical Raw Materials Law, a regulation we must seek to reduce these dependencies.
"Gallium and germanium are by-products of more common metals and therefore the potential to refine them in the EU is high. Gallium was produced in the EU until 2016 and germanium is still being recovered from slag. Strategic projects oriented towards its production could receive support under the Critical Raw Materials Law," he added.
On the other hand, he has emphasized that, although semiconductors made from gallium and germanium are used in "high-performance" chips for vehicles, telecommunications or defense, "most microchips are made of silicon, which in the EU does not predominantly come from China."
Another part of the Italian MEP's question referred to whether, in this context, the European Commission could rethink the calendar for the green transition that is being promoted in Europe.
Regarding this, Breton has been forceful in his response: "The Commission does not see the need to review the dates planned for the green transition."
Aside from the limitations on the export of gallium and germanium, China announced this month that it will tighten the requirements for the export of a series of graphite products - a key mineral for the manufacture of batteries - starting in December for " safeguard national security and interests."
The measure, which will be officially implemented starting December 1, was announced just three days after the United States Department of Commerce announced a tightening of controls on the export of high-tech microchips that manufacturers can sell to China.
Thus, as of December 1, the export from China of graphite articles affected by their significant impact on national security must be authorized through the issuance of a license after the appropriate review by the Ministry of Commerce, while the Customs will take care of the inspection and release procedures based on the aforementioned export license.