EU debate to keep conflict minerals out of Europe kicks off

03/02/2016 3576 views

Today the European Commission, European Parliament and the Council of Europe begin negotiations about proposed regulations to tackle the trade of conflict minerals. Civil society organisations are backing a proposal (passed last May by the European Parliament), calling for a mandatory due diligence system for the industries which use raw materials from conflict and high-risk areas. “The companies are responsible for checking their supply chains and taking measures to prevent the financing of armed conflicts and human rights violations“, explained Anna Backmann on behalf of the Stop Mad Mining campaign.

“The European Parliament has already made a strong statement which the member states and the Commission cannot ignore”, emphasized Michael Reckordt of PowerShift. In May 2015 the Parliament expressed their support for a mandatory due diligence scheme applying to smelters, importers of metals and the ‘downstream industry’ – those which use the metals in their products. “Only if the entire supply chain is included in the regulation, can European consumers be sure they are not unintentionally supporting violent conflicts in the world with when buying phones, laptops, computers or cars“, added Anna Backmann.

“Nowadays, even China is putting into practice the OECD due diligence standards. They are doing it voluntary, but for the complete supply chain. It is ridiculous, if this process results in Europe falling behind China on a key human rights issue”, said Michael Reckordt.

Some EU member states support stringent mandatory regulation. Sweden and Germany, for example, publicly announced their support for a mandatory reporting requirements. Also, some European multinational corporations, e.g. Telenor – a Norwegian telecommunication company – and Novo Nordisk – a Danish pharmaceutical company, pronounced their support for mandatory regulation.

The “Stop Mad Mining Campaign” supports mandatory due diligence regulation to ensure all companies importing ores, metals and products containing these materials into Europe, check their supply chains. The extraction of raw materials contained in our consumer goods is often linked to environment destruction, human rights violations, and the financing of armed conflict. Gold, tantalum, tin and tungsten (3TG) are mined in conflict-affected areas of the DRC, Central African Republic, Myanmar and Colombia, but also in other conflict-affected and high-risk areas worldwide. They make their way into the phones, laptops and cars that EU citizens buy every day.

It is for that reason, that in a huge step forward, members of the European Parliament voted on 20 May for a strong and binding regulation that would require companies bringing 3TG products into the EU — in any form — to source them more responsible. However, the final legislation will be decided in an ongoing ‘trilogue’ negotiation between the European Parliament, the EU Commission, and representatives of Member States.

Stop Mad Mining partners have launched a petition calling upon their Member States to match Parliament’s commitment to break the link between conflict financing and metal sourcing, by supporting binding due diligence requirements that could have a real and positive impact on the trade in minerals, and on the violence and harm associated with mining in some of the world’s poorest areas.

For more details, with petition text, see: http://stop-mad-mining.org