An interview with Paul Rübig MEP

Written by Sean O'Sullivan

Paul Rübig is Austria’s longest serving MEP and has led a distinguished business career. His parliamentary work includes co-chairing the Business and Raw Materials group and serving as a permanent member of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy

Sean O’Sullivan is the Government Relations Officer for EU Affairs for Rosia Montana Gold Corporation.


Sean O’Sullivan – Can you tell us about your work as co-chair of the “Business and Raw Materials” subgroup of the EP Intergroup: “Climate Change, Biodiversity and Sustainable Development” since its launch in May 2012?

Paul Rübig MEP – The intergroup “Climate Change, Biodiversity and Sustainable Development” and particularly its sub-group “Business and Raw Materials” regards important questions concerning the future of competitiveness, innovation and employment in Europe. As the co-chair of the intergroup it is my aim to raise awareness to the fact, that environmental concerns are compatible with the extraction of raw materials and to promote regulatory harmonisation actions in this field. I very much welcome the EU Innovation Partnership on Raw Materials Initiative. It marks the first step to ensure sustainable raw material supplies at competitive prices in Europe. Currently we are experiencing challenging economic times and a great number of countries even have to struggle with an economic downturn. It is obvious, that those countries that have maintained a high industrial share in their value creation prior to the crisis are now seen to perform best. In this context the securing of energy and raw material supplies assumes an even stronger value for future welfare, prosperity and employment in Europe.

Sean O’Sullivan – What are the achievements to date of the “Business and Raw Materials” subgroup in your view and how does this sit with the European Innovation Partnership on Raw Materials?

Paul Rübig MEP- The function of the subgroup is to bring together Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) from all political groups as well as Parliamentary Committees, different Stakeholders (relevant experts, NGOs, private sector, researchers and academics) and Interest groups to find sustainable solutions to some of the greatest challenges of our time. The debates, dialogues and discussions are vital as they aid us in our daily decision making processes. The subgroup managed to raise the awareness of a more harmonized approach regarding extraction policies within the EU and tried to emphasize the need to find substitutes for critical raw materials, help the sector innovate and try to set up a valuable diplomatic partnership between the EU and third countries which are important suppliers such materials.

Sean O’Sullivan – “Am Infrastrukturausbau führt kein Weg vorbei” (There is no way of getting around infrastructure development) was another recent message you gave to an Austrian audience – how do you see this resonating at an European level/Romanian level?

Paul Rübig MEP – The development and expansion of transportation, energy and raw materials infrastructure within Europe is one of the most significant topics for Europe in the future. Only when well-established and modern infrastructure is provided, Europe’s economy can grow, stay competitive and be efficient. Next to innovation and investing in human capital, investment in infrastructure is Europe’s key to growth, creating employment and staying competitive.

Sean O’Sullivan – How do you see “Horizon 2020” strengthening the European Mittelstand (SMEs)?

Paul Rübig MEP – SMEs are key drivers of innovation thanks to their ability to quickly and efficiently transform new ideas in successful businesses. With one single set of clear rules of Horizon 2020, the SME’s will benefit from an easier access, as participants and beneficiaries, of Horizon 2020 with simplified and shorter procedures (i.e. reduction of time to grant/to pay).
The EPP succeeded in introducing a new specific “dedicated instrument” targeted at all types of SMEs with an innovation potential, created under a single management body and implemented in a bottom-up manner (demand-driven) through open calls of participation.
Moreover, at least 20 % of the total combined budget (specific objective on “Leadership in enabling and industrial technologies” in pillar 2 and the priority “Societal challenges” in pillar 3) is earmarked for SMEs participants. The EPP philosophy, which I fully support has been to stimulate economic growth by means of increasing the levels of innovation in SMEs, covering different innovation needs over the whole innovation cycle for all types of innovation, thereby creating more fast-growing internationally active SMEs.

Sean O’Sullivan – What role do you see for Austrian and German downstream suppliers for projects such as Rosia Montana and how will this impact on likely jobs and growth in the area around the Rosia Montana mining project?

Paul Rübig MEP – Taking into consideration that we are importing about 60% of raw materials needed yearly in the EU from third countries, we should start thinking of ensuring supplies from within the EU and facilitate their exploration. The positive effect of more domestic exploration and the Rosia Montana could be such an example, can not only be ascertained by less import dependency, but also by looking at the environmental sustainability. The Environmental standards the extractive industry in Europe is subject to, is by far the most demanding and ambitious one worldwide. A more integrated European approach could foster economic and social development by taking into account the relation of costs and benefits. Any new projects which make us more independent of imports of raw materials will create a great number of direct as well as indirect effects on jobs and also open doors to new business opportunities.