ECA: Charging ahead - Europe's quest to become a top global battery producer probed by EU auditors

The European Court of Auditors is launching an audit to find out whether the European Commission has been effective in developing a globally competitive and sustainable value chain for batteries in the EU and whether the projects supported in the Member States maximised the impact of EU funding. The audit comes against the backdrop of a rapid increase in European battery production expected by 2025 and the EU becoming the world’s second largest battery producer after China. Increasing sustainable battery production in the EU will not only facilitate the EU’s clean energy transition, but will also be key to the competitiveness of its car industry and reducing its dependence on foreign battery suppliers, the auditors note in today's preview. The EU will also face a crucially important task in securing raw materials.

Batteries are highly relevant for Europe's role as a major industrial player and a leader in the clean energy transition, as well as for its strategic autonomy,” said Annemie Turtelboom, the ECA member who will lead the audit. “We will assess whether EU action is promoting a battery boom in Europe and contributing to a competitive and sustainable value chain.” 

To achieve climate neutrality by 2050, the Commission has designated sustainable battery development and production as a strategic imperative for Europe and provided significant funding to this area in recent years, which is likely to continue in the future. By 2025, European battery production is expected to rise almost tenfold compared to 2020, so from 44 GWh (6% of global capacity) to 400 GWh, involving 800,000 jobs and generating around €250 billion per year in terms of economic activity. To sustain such rapid growth, which is chiefly due to the increased demand for electric vehicles, the EU will need to secure stable access to raw materials. However, critical materials such as lithium, cobalt and nickel are not produced in the EU in sufficient quantities to cover the expected hike in future demand and the risk of shortages, further aggravated by the war in Ukraine, will also adversely affect the EU’s battery production and its strategic autonomy.

Read the Audit preview of The European Court of Auditors in its entirety here.