EU Deal to Curb Trade in Conflict Minerals
The European Union agreed on a framework last week to stop the trade in conflict minerals which finance armed groups.
After negotiations between the European Commission, Council and Parliament, the deal aims for EU companies to responsibly source tin, tantalum, tungsten, and gold, minerals which are often found in everyday products such as mobile phones, cars, and jewelry.
“The EU is committed to preventing international trade in minerals from financing warlords, criminals, and human rights abusers,” said Lilianne Ploumen, the Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation of the Netherlands, on behalf of the Council of the European Union.
“This political understanding on conflict minerals will help trade to work for peace and prosperity, in communities and areas around the globe affected by armed conflict,” said EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström.
“We need to step up to our responsibilities and finally break the vicious cycle between the trade in minerals and the financing of conflict,” added Bernd Lange, chairman of the European Parliament’s International Trade Committee. “Today marks an important waypoint towards achieving this goal.”
The EU approach will build upon the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for responsible sourcing of minerals.
“This framework paves the way for an effective and workable EU regulation that will make a real impact on the ground”, said Member of European Parliament Iuliu Winkler, a sponsor of the measure the legislature. “The agreed framework carries clear obligations for the critical upstream part of the conflict minerals supply chain, including smelters and refiners, to source responsibly. The vast majority of metals and minerals imported to the EU will be covered, while exempting small volume importers from these obligations.”
In addition, the Commission will carry out a number of other measures, including the development of reporting tools, to further boost supply-chain due diligence by large and smaller EU downstream companies, those that use these metals and minerals as components in goods.
The political understanding sets the regulation on track for technical work and final adoption in the coming months. The regulation will apply to all conflict-affected and high risk areas in the world, of which the Democratic Republic of the Congo is a prominent example.