MAC: Mines and Communities

European Parliament approves limited measures on conflict minerals

Published by MAC on 2015-04-27
Source: Statements, Reuters, Mining.com, ENS (2015-04-27)

The European Parliament's Committee on International Trade is the latest committee to vote on proposed legislation on certain minerals extracted in conflict zones.

Some welcomed the move, noting that it did impose binding regulation on the so-called 3TG (tantalum, tin and tungsten, as well as gold) mined in conflict zones in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and neighbouring countries in conflict.

Others, especially NGOs advocating on the issue noted that the current proposals under discussion rejected a proposal to impose binding transparency standards on the whole supply chain for these minerals.

The legislation will now progress to a plenary vote of the European Parliament in late May.

Previous articles on MAC: Re-defining "conflict minerals" - an important new report
&
European companies able to reap rewards from deadly conflict mineral trade

Parliament adopts relaxed measures on conflict minerals

Cécile Barbière

EurActiv.fr

16 April 2015

MEPs from the Committee on International Trade have rejected a set of binding regulations for certain minerals extracted in conflict zones, in favour of a less ambitious system of self-certification, which would exclude some minerals entirely. EurActiv France reports.

Europe is making gradual progress in its operations against the trade in minerals such as gold, tantalum (the material used to make mobile phones vibrate), tungsten and tin, whose revenues are used to finance armed conflicts.

Members of the European Parliament's International Trade Committee adopted the conflict minerals regulation by 22 votes to 16, with two abstentions, but rejected a proposal to impose binding transparency standards on the whole supply chain for these minerals.

Self-certification

Greens MEP Ska Keller expressed her disappointment at the outcome on Twitter "Unfortunately, #trade committee missed opportunity to stop #ConflictMinerals. We'll keep on trying. pic.twitter.com/hKwaTk1XZ3"

In refusing to toughen the European Commission's initial proposal, the MEPs chose to conserve a large part of the system based on business self-certification and responsible labelling of supply shains.

The EU's smelters and refiners are the only industries that will be forced to use responsibly sourced minerals and display an approved European importer on the label. This regulation, supported by the political right, is vehemently opposed by the left and the Greens, who had hoped for a system with binding standards at all stages in the supply chain.

"The friction between the compulsory and voluntary approaches is not the real problem. The real challenge is to come up with an effective and viable regulation," the Romanian Christian-democrat MEP and committee vice-president Iuliu Winkler said.

"European smelters and refiners only account for 5% of the global market," said MEP and of the International Trade Committee Vice-President Yannick Jadot (Greens). "In other words, the only way to apply the same rules to the sector outside the EU, which is mainly based in Asia, is to enforce due diligence standards at every link of the supply chain," he added.

The long-awaited Commission proposal, presented in March 2014, aimed to implement a system for the responsible procurement of minerals from regions beset by conflicts in general, and from the Great Lakes region of the DRC in particular, an area especially hard hit by the phenomenon.

The self-certification and labelling system also attracted harsh criticism from NGOs, who feel it lacks the teeth to hold the mineral extraction sector to account.

A binding system has already been in place in the United States since 2010. Under the Dodd-Frank act, American companies are obliged to provide detailed certifications for their materials. Supporters of this law hail it as a success, while others accuse it of simply rerouting the trade in conflict minerals through countries bordering the conflict zones targeted by the legislation, and of creating an unofficial American embargo on the entire Congolese mining industry, damaging small companies.

Narrow scope

Other criticisms of the EU’s proposal hinged on its narrow scope. While the European Union already takes part in the Kimberly Process diamond certification system, the proposed new regulations all but ignore many other conflict minerals, like emeralds from Colombia or copper, and jade and rubies from Burma.

"The scope of this text is very limited. It concerns too few companies and resources. We recommend including copper and the precious stones that are causing problems in Burma, for example," the Secretary General of the Episcopal Commission for the Natural Resources of the Congo Henri Muyiha said.

The proposed regulation will now be put before the European Parliament's plenary in May, where MEPs will have the chance to table amendments.

Positions:

Maria Arena, the S&D Group spokesperson, said “I hope that in this upcoming plenary session those MEPs that were crying for the victims of conflict minerals during the speech of Dr. Mukwege (Sakharov Prize winner 2014), who publically stated his support for the mandatory approach advocated by the Socialists, will demonstrate the same humanity when it comes to their voting”.

Marielle de Sarnez, the ALDE Group’s spokesperson said “It is our responsibility to give Europe effective means to really fight the exploitation of minerals that feed armed conflicts”.

Yannick Jadot, a Green Party MEP and vice-president of the International Trade Committee, said “This vote is disastrous for the European Union because there is no guarantee that commercial products, whose manufacturing depends on these minerals, are not linked to a certain number of conflicts”.

The NGO Global Witness issued a statement, saying “Today the European Parliament’s Committee on International Trade (INTA) wasted a ground-breaking opportunity to tackle the deadly trade in conflict minerals. […] Under this proposal, responsible sourcing by importers of tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold would be entirely optional. The Commission’s proposed voluntary self-certification scheme would be open to approximately 300-400 companies—just 0.05% of companies using and trading these minerals in the EU, and would have virtually no impact on companies’ sourcing behaviour”.

“The law must be strengthened to make responsible sourcing a legal requirement for all companies that place these minerals on the European market–in any form. This would put the European Union at the forefront of global efforts to create more transparent, responsible and sustainable business practices. It would also better align Europe with existing international standards on responsible sourcing, and complement mandatory requirements in the US and in twelve African countries”.

Emma McClarkin, an MEP from the ECR Group, said “The thought that the goods we purchase could inadvertently fund bloody conflicts in parts of Africa will fill most people with dread. The system we have agreed gives customers the power to check that companies are carrying out suitable checks before they buy their products”.

“We need clear and workable legislation that will give people the information they need when choosing where they buy their goods, so that they know where the minerals contained within have come from”.

Iuliu Winkler from the EPP Group said "It is a very important consensus that we have reached today between the EPP, ECR and ALDE Groups in order to adopt an efficient and workable Regulation capable of focusing on two priorities: empowering local communities in the conflict-affected areas, and increasing the responsible behaviour of all the stakeholders involved in trade."

External links:
European Commission
* Proposed regulation on conflict minerals - 5 March 2015 - http://www.europarl.europa.eu/meetdocs/2014_2019/documents/com/com_com%282014%290111_/com_com%282014%290111_en.pdf

European Parliament
* Minerals from conflict areas: Existing and new responsible-sourcing initiatives - February 2015 - http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/bibliotheque/briefing/2014/130680/LDM_BRI(2014)130680_REV1_EN.pdf

NGOs
* Conflict minerals: European regulation is still insufficient (in French) - March 2015 - http://ccfd-terresolidaire.org/infos/paix-et-conflits/exploitation-et/minerais-du-sang-un-4984

Translated from French by Samuel White


European Parliament’s Trade Committee wastes ground-breaking opportunity on conflict minerals

Global Witness press release

14 April 2015

Today the European Parliament’s Committee on International Trade (INTA) wasted a ground-breaking opportunity to tackle the deadly trade in conflict minerals. The Committee voted in favour of a weak and ineffective law that, if passed, would undermine global attempts to clean up the trade. It would require only a tiny number of companies importing four key minerals into Europe to source them responsibly and transparently.

INTA has failed to extend the legal requirements to the vast majority of companies involved in the trade, such as manufacturers, traders and companies importing products that contain these minerals. It also fails to regulate foreign actors that supply to European companies. Although we welcome a mandatory approach, this excessively narrow scope will likely fail to make a meaningful and lasting impact on a trade that fuels conflict and human rights abuses in countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo, Colombia, and Zimbabwe.

Civil society is calling on the European Parliament to strengthen the law when it votes in mid-May.

Despite millions of euro worth of tin, tungsten, tantalum and gold entering the EU every year from high-risk and conflict-affected areas, the EU has so far put no legislation in place to ensure these minerals are sourced responsibly.

Today’s vote in INTA follows a weak legislative proposal put forward by the European Commission in March last year. Under this proposal, responsible sourcing by importers of tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold would be entirelyoptional. The Commission’s proposed voluntary self-certification scheme would be open to approximately 300-400 companies—just 0.05% of companies using and trading these minerals in the EU, and would have virtually no impact on companies’ sourcing behaviour.

Investors, religious leaders, and civil society have all criticised the Commission’s approach, and have called on the EU to make sure that companies placing minerals on the EU market, whether in their raw form or as part of products, are legally required to source responsibly. Last month, the European Parliament’s Development Committee (DEVE) voted overwhelmingly in favour of such a mandatory regime. This year’s Sakharov Prize Laureate, Dr. Denis Mukwege, used his acceptance speech to urge the Parliament to do the same.

INTA has failed to respond to these calls for effective legislation and has instead favoured a largely voluntary scheme that further weakens the Commission’s proposal on a number of points. Under INTA’s scheme only a handful of European smelters and refiners that import tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold into the EU in their raw forms will be legally required to source those minerals responsibly. The regime will be entirely voluntary for other importers of these raw materials, and for companies that import or manufacture products containing them.

The law must be strengthened to make responsible sourcing a legal requirement for all companies that place these minerals on the European market–in any form. This would put the European Union at the forefront of global efforts to create more transparent, responsible and sustainable business practices. It would also better align Europe with existing international standards on responsible sourcing, and complement mandatory requirements in the US and in twelve African countries.

The Committee charged with tackling this issue has missed a critical opportunity. As a result, Parliament now risks taking a major step backwards in attempts to confront the trade in conflict minerals. We are calling on all Parliamentarians to listen to those who have spoken out on this pressing issue, and to vote for a regulation that compels all companies participating in the European market to source their minerals responsibly and transparently—a regulation of which Europe can be proud.

Click here for more on our conflict minerals campaign - https://www.globalwitness.org/campaigns/conflict-minerals/

/ ENDS

Notes to editor:

The INTA Committee has been designated to lead the European Parliament’s response to the conflict minerals proposal. It is expected that the Plenary of the European Parliament will vote on the conflict minerals regulation in mid-May. The result will define the Parliament’s mandate for negotiations with the Council of the European Union.


"Blood-free" minerals scheme must be binding, EU lawmakers say

By Robin Emmott

Reuters

14 April 2015

BRUSSELS - European importers of minerals from conflict zones should be forced to certify their goods "blood-free", an influential group of EU lawmakers said on Tuesday, seeking to toughen a proposal to prevent the financing of warlords in Africa.

Much of the gold, tantalum, tin and tungsten used in electronics and lighting is mined in areas of civil conflict in Africa and the European Commission, the EU executive, last year presented a plan for a voluntary certification scheme.

That would mean the approximately 420 companies that import all minerals for the 28-nation bloc could seek EU certification that their goods are conflict-free.

But the European Parliament's trade committee wants to force smelters and refiners to certify their imports, voting 22 to 16 with two abstentions, to strengthen the draft law.

"It is vital that this legislation is binding for the key players in the supply chain, such as smelters and refineries, when they are processing minerals," said Marielle de Sarnez, a French liberal on the committee. "We must not forget that the objective of this regulation shall be to permanently break the link between mineral exploitation and armed conflict."

Binding legalisation is supported by rights groups such as Amnesty International and the trade committee vote will influence the full parliament when it takes a final position in May before any approval by all EU governments.

The Greens in the parliament want all companies throughout the supply chain, not just importers, to be required to be certify they have not had any links with warlords.

The United States defines the conflict mineral zone as the Democratic Republic of Congo and neighbouring countries including Angola and South Sudan. They make up 17 percent of the global production of tantalum, 4 percent of the global production of tin, 3 percent of tungsten and 2 percent of gold.

The European Commission says its plan is not limited to sub-Saharan Africa and could be applied across the world to places such as Colombia, where militias control some gold regions.

The scheme does not cover diamonds because the European Union is already part of the 50-member Kimberley Process, an initiative set up in 2002 to control the use of rough diamonds that fund rebel movements and human rights abuses. (Reporting by Robin Emmott, editing by David Evans)


Conflict minerals: preventing military groups from funding their activities

European parliament release

13 April 2015

Military groups in conflict areas such as in the Democratic Republic of the Congo often use the sale of minerals found in their territory to fund their activities. A new EU proposal aims to put an end to this by setting up an EU system of self-certification to encourage importers, smelters and refiners to source their minerals responsibly. The Parliament's international trade committee will vote on the plans on Tuesday 14 April. Follow the vote live on our website.

In an effort to prevent mineral extraction from fuelling conflicts, the UN and the OECD have developed guidelines for companies sourcing minerals from conflict areas. The US has already introduced legally binding requirements for corporations, which so far focuses only on the areas around the African Great Lakes.

The European Commission has produced a proposal to limit the import of so-called conflict minerals. These are minerals such as tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold that come from countries and regions marked by armed conflict or that are at risk of conflict. The initiative attempts to set up a voluntary system in the EU for importers, smelters and refiners using these minerals.

It is now up to the European Parliament to scrutinise the proposal and amend, approve or reject as necessary. Romanian EPP member Iuliu Winkler, who is responsible for steering the legislation through the Parliament, said his goal was to help set up an efficient regulation to stop profits from the trade of minerals being used to fund armed conflict while promoting responsible sourcing from conflict-affected areas.

The Commission is proposing a voluntary system rather than a mandatory one. Winkler, who is also the vice-chair of the international trade committee, said it was not about whether voluntary or mandatory would work better: "The real challenge is that of elaborating an efficient, workable regulation.”

The draft regulation gives EU importers the opportunity to deepen ongoing efforts to ensure clean supply chains when trading legitimately with operators in conflict-affected countries. The EU intends to publish an annual list of responsible smelters and refiners to increase public accountability, boost supply chain transparency and facilitate responsible mineral sourcing. With more than 400 importers of such ores and metals, the EU is among the largest markets for tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold.

The international trade committee votes on Winkler's draft report on Tuesday 14 April at 10.00 CET.

Click here for more news from the European Parliament.
REF. : 20150413STO41613
Updated: (13-04-2015 - 15:43)


EU lawmakers toughen up rules limiting the import of conflict minerals

Cecilia Jamasmie

Mining.com

14 April 2015

The European Union (EU) voted Tuesday in favour of making it more difficult for armed groups to finance their activities through the sale of conflict minerals.

Under the improved draft law, introduced last year, companies operating close to areas of civil conflict in Africa will find it easier to source tin, tantalum, tungsten, and gold through conflict-free sources.

In practical terms, the changes mean that all smelters and refiners based on any of the 28-nation bloc will be forced to certify that their imports are conflict-free.

"It is vital that this legislation is binding for the key players in the supply chain, such as smelters and refineries, when they are processing minerals," said Marielle de Sarnez, a French liberal on the European Parliament's trade committee told Reuters. "We must not forget that the objective of this regulation shall be to permanently break the link between mineral exploitation and armed conflict."

Beyond Africa

The lawmakers, who voted 22 to 16 with two abstentions to strengthen the draft law, said the scheme was not limited to sub-Saharan Africa. They added it can and should be applied in other places, such as Colombia, where militias control some gold regions.

In the United States, the Dodd-Frank Act already forces U.S stock exchange-listed companies to disclose the use of minerals from an African conflict zone in their supply chains.

Critics to the European Parliament's initiative say that creating an EU version of that law could lead importers to leave Africa altogether and plunge honest mining communities in those areas deeper into poverty.


Illicit Wildlife, Gold, Timber Trade Funds DRC Conflict

Environmental News Service (ENS)

16 April 2015

NAIROBI, Kenya, April 16, 2015 – Organized crime funded by illegal trade in natural resources is fueling the 20-year-long conflict in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, DRC, that has cost the lives of several million people, the United Nations Environment Programme reports.

The DRC government, supported by the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the country, MONUSCO, is confronting both a political insurgency and large-scale smuggling and laundering of natural resources conducted by militarized criminal groups with transnational links.

Released today, the report shows an increased awareness of, and response to, the growing involvement of organized crime and calls for concerted action to stop both the smuggling and the armed groups it supports.

Gold, minerals, timber, charcoal and wildlife products such as ivory, valued at up to US$1.3 billion annually, are exploited and smuggled out of the conflict zone and surrounding areas in eastern DRC, finds the report.

There is evidence that these revenues finance at least 25 armed groups that destabilize the peace and security of eastern DRC.

“There is no room for doubt,” UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said today. “Wildlife and forest crime is serious and calls for an equally serious response. In addition to the breach of the international rule of law and the impact on peace and security, environmental crime robs countries of revenues that could have been spent on sustainable development and the eradication of poverty.”
military

Jointly produced by UNEP, MONUSCO and the Office of the Special Envoy for Great Lakes Region, OSESG, the report relies on the input of experts from: the UN Office for Drugs and Crime, Interpol, the UN Group of Experts on the DRC, DRC government agencies and nongovernmental organizations.

The experts estimate that 10-30 percent of this illegal trade – between US$72 and US$426 million a year – goes to transnational organized criminal networks based outside eastern DRC.

Around 98 percent of the net profit from illegal natural resource exploitation – particularly gold, charcoal and timber – goes to transnational organized criminal networks both inside and outside DRC.

By contrast, armed groups based in the DRC retain just two percent of the net profits from smuggling – about US$13.2 million a year. This income subsidizes at least 8,000 armed fighters a year and enables defeated or disarmed groups to continuously resurface and destabilize the region.

The region holds some of the world’s richest natural resources and vulnerable wildlife. This includes the critically endangered mountain gorillas, targeted by criminal groups as retaliation for park rangers interfering with the illegal charcoal trade inside the Virunga National Park.

The report warns that transnational organized criminal networks “divide and rule” armed groups in eastern DRC to prevent any single armed group from achieving a dominant role.

MONUSCO is the UN’s largest peacekeeping mission with 20,000 uniformed personnel. MONUSCO head Martin Kobler, Special Representative of the Secretary-General said, “These resources lost to criminal gangs and fuelling the conflict could have been used to build schools, roads, hospitals and a future for the Congolese people.”

“Imagine if we could spend hundreds of millions of dollars of the lost revenues stolen by criminal gangs in eastern DRC instead to pay teachers, doctors and promote business opportunities and tourism? We must turn gold into taxes and taxes to development for a prosperous future,” said Kobler.

The experts recommend that MONUSCO undercut the lifelines of armed groups with links to transnational criminal networks by strengthening its information sharing and analysis capacity and strengthening the capacity of the Congolese national police and the justice system to investigate and prosecute environmental crime.

MONUSCO should also strengthen its existing cooperation with the Congolese Wildlife Authority, ICCN, to safeguard protected areas and World Heritage Sites from illegal natural resources exploitation and their use as ‘safe havens’ by armed groups.

Finally, the experts recommend that MONUSCO continue advocating for legal and fiscal reforms to formalize the legal exploitation of natural resources, particularly of artisanal gold mining, logging and charcoal production, in coordination with bilateral and multilateral development partners.


 

EU Conflict Minerals Vote Set

Barbara Jorgensen

http://electronicspurchasingstrategies.com/2015/04/02/eu-conflict-minerals-vote-set/

2 April 2015

Just as U.S. companies seem to have a handle on conflict minerals legislation, the EU is poised to pass its own law regarding these materials that are widely used in electronics.

In the U.S., the so-called conflict minerals rule, Dodd-Frank Section 1502, requires public companies to disclose the presence of conflict minerals (tin, tantalum, tungsten, or gold) originating from the Democratic Republic of the Congo or specific adjoining countries in their products. These regions are controlled by groups that are widely known for their human rights violations. The legislation aims to cut off a source of funding for these groups.

The EU’s Committee on International Trade is scheduled to vote on its conflict minerals proposal during an April 13-14 meeting. The full European Parliament is tentatively scheduled to address it on May 19. This week, a group of high-tech trade associations, including the IPC, issued a statement to EU members. “While there are many good ideas in the proposed amendments, we cannot support any new concepts that do not adhere to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) framework or have not been subject to adequate regulatory impact assessment,” the statement reads.

Compliance with the U.S. rule has proven problematic for many businesses. According to a 2014 PriceWaterhouseCoopers survey, organizations continue to find the process to be challenging at nearly every step: scoping, surveying suppliers, performing due diligence and drafting filings. As a result, 62 percent of survey respondents reported needing one to two full-time resources for their conflict minerals compliance efforts, and 21 percent needing three to five full-time resources, a substantial evolution over the last year. It ultimately comes down to performing reasonable due diligence, and according to PwC’s survey, companies in the technology, energy and metals industries appear to be the furthest along.

In its letter to the EU, the trade associations ask members to consider:

Acknowledging existing industry schemes. Several industry schemes have been established over a number of years specifically to help break the link between conflict financing and the sourcing of 3TG, allowing companies to make informed choices about conflict minerals in their supply chains. Complementing the Union system, schemes like the London Bullion Market Association Gold Standard (LBMA), the Responsible Jeweler Council Certification Program (RJC) and the Conflict Free Sourcing Initiative (CFSI) focus on the same “pinch point” in the global metals supply chain as the Union does. These schemes use independent third--‐party audits to certify smelters and refiners with systems in place to assure sourcing of only conflict--‐free materials. There is mutual recognition between these schemes and the Union should also include provisions to allow for the accreditation of these schemes, to avoid duplication of efforts and reinforce their impact. These schemes have proved successful in increasing the transparency across the minerals supply chain. They should all be supported in order to continue to expand the number of compliant smelters and refiners.

A common list of smelters/refiners. A white list of smelters and refiners should be produced at EU level by the Commission in consultation with the OECD and in conjunction with the LBMA, CFSI, RJC and equivalent schemes in order to prevent duplication of effort, administrative and financial burden on companies and SMEs as well as confusion in the global marketplace.

Maintaining a focus on 3TG and exclude recycled materials. The majority of stakeholders are of the view that the Union system should follow or mirror the OECD due diligence framework. This means maintaining the current focus on tin, tungsten, tantalum and gold and excluding recycled materials, as well as following the OECD process to identify and address additional minerals. Each of the 3TG is dealt with in a dedicated supplement that has been prepared as a result of consultation with all relevant stakeholders. Consequently, additional minerals should only be considered within the Union system once the OECD process to identify and deal with such minerals has been completed.

Keeping focus upstream. Concentrating on upstream supply chain operators and on facilitating the transmission of quality information in the supply chain leverages the appropriate point in the supply chain, is consistent with the OECD guidance and with industry initiatives, and complements the Dodd--‐Frank Act Section 1502. Beyond the pinch point of smelters/refiners, it becomes exponentially more difficult to identify the origins of metals.

Supply chain due diligence information. In line with the OECD Guidance and inparticular Step 5, downstream companies should be allowed the flexibility to identify the most appropriate ways to provide information on supply chain due diligence to their supply chains and customers. The EU Directive on disclosure of non--‐financial and diversity information could serve this purpose.

Defining conflict zones and high--‐risk areas. We do not feel that it should be up to companies to define conflict zones and high--‐risk areas. Definitions should adhere to internationally recognized definitions such as the OECD and the International Red Cross.

Along with the IPC, the letter was issued by AmCham EU, the European Committee of Domestic Equipment Manufacturers (CECED), DIGITALEUROPE, the Japan Business Council in Europe (JBCE), the Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association (JEITA), the Korea Electronics Association (KEA), Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International (SEMI), the Trans-Atlantic Business Council (TABC), and TechAmerica Europe.

Until recently, there was no U.S. standard format for conflict minerals reporting for the electronics industry. The IPC recently released a recommended template for collecting data from suppliers and provides a Conflict Minerals Due Diligence Guide; the Electronics Industry Citizenship Coalition along with the Global e-Sustainability Initiative provides a reporting template, tools and resources for compliance. The organizations only recommend the usage of these materials -- there is currently no standard required by the SEC.


European Parliament’s Development Committee sends strong signal on conflict minerals

Joint Public Statement

11 March 2015

Monday night the European Parliament’s Development Committee (DEVE) sent a powerful message. It voted, with a significant majority, for mandatory conflict minerals regulation in the EU. It called for a binding regulation that will require companies trading in key resources to source their minerals responsibly, and publicly report on what they have done to avoid financing conflict or human rights abuses.

We welcome this strong political signal. It is an important step towards breaking the links between the trade in minerals, and conflict and human rights abuses.

DEVE’s vote was responding to a weak legislative proposal from the European Commission last March. This proposal gives a small number of importers of tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold (3TG) the option of sourcing responsibly. This voluntary scheme would be available to only a tiny fraction—0.05%—of companies using and trading the minerals in the EU, and would have virtually no impact on companies’ sourcing behaviour. It also ignores companies that import products containing these minerals into the EU, such as in cars and laptops. Business leaders, investors, religious leaders, civil society and consumers have all criticised the Commission’s approach.

Last night, with support from a broad spectrum of political groups, the DEVE Committee rejected the Commission’s proposal for a voluntary, narrow scheme by 23 to 2 votes.

The DEVE Committee has instead demanded a mandatory scheme that extends to companies importing products containing tin, tantalum, tungsten, and gold into the EU. Companies at different points in the supply chain are asked to work together to identify and assess risks in their supply chain—a process known as supply chain due diligence—in line with an internationally recognised standard. DEVE has also called for a mechanism that will allow the regulation to be extended in the future to cover other natural resources that fuel conflict and human rights abuses. It has also called for the EU to complement the regulation with development projects aimed at enhancing responsible sourcing and addressing development needs linked to the exploitation of minerals in conflict-affected and high-risk areas.

The International Trade Committee (INTA) is leading the Parliament’s work on the conflict minerals issue. It will vote on the Commission’s proposal in mid-April. The INTA Committee’s approach to this issue will be critical to shaping the Parliament’s response to the trade in conflict minerals.

Yet a draft report presented by the INTA rapporteur, Iuliu Winkler, last month is concerning. It suggests the Trade Committee is considering a significant step backwards. The draft report fails to
address the weaknesses in the Commission’s proposal, and instead weakens it further.

Civil society is calling on the Trade Committee to listen to what Parliamentarians from across Europe’s political spectrum stated so clearly in the Development Committee last night.

If the Parliament supports the Commission’s voluntary and narrow approach, Europe will not only fail to live up to its human rights obligations, it also risks creating a fragmented market and uneven playing field to the detriment of EU companies. Like the Development Committee, the Trade Committee must show leadership and push for strong regulation that requires EU companies to source their minerals responsibly. It is time for Europe to be part of the solution, not the problem.

For more information, visit: www.globalwitness.org/conflictminerals/

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