Proposed EU regulation on conflict minerals: commentaries & media coverage

This page contains information on developments regarding a possible EU regulation on conflict minerals.  For information about US Dodd-Frank Act provision on conflict minerals, see here.


Background

Certain minerals (including tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold) have been linked with funding killings, violence, rape, and other human rights abuses in the Democratic Republic of Congo and other conflict zones.  These minerals can enter multinational companies' supply chains, and are used in consumer products, including laptops, mobile phones and cars.  In the past years, various voluntary and regulatory measures have been implemented to ensure responsible sourcing of minerals and stem financing of related human rights abuses.

In 2011, the OECD published guidance on due diligence for responsible supply chains of minerals from conflict zones, with a supplement on tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold.  This guidance has been recognised as an international framework for due diligence and has been referred to in the subsequent US conflict minerals law.  The US Dodd-Frank Act's conflict minerals provision was approved in 2012 and requires companies to undertake due diligence and disclose use of minerals originating in Democratic Republic of Congo or an adjoining country.

A report by a coalition of 59 civil society organizations, published in September 2013, called on the European Commission "to pass a strong law to prevent European businesses fuelling conflict and human rights abuses through their purchases of natural resources, such as tin, gold and diamonds."


EU proposal

The EU undertook a public consultation between March and June 2013, followed by further in-depth consultations and an impact assessment of a possible regulation on conflict minerals. 

On 19 February 2014, the European Parliament's development committee voted in favour of a report, which "[s]tresses that an EU regulation requiring companies using and trading minerals...should...create a legally binding obligation for all upstream...and downstream companies...to undertake supply chain due diligence to identify and mitigate the risk of conflict financing and human rights abuse".  Global Witness and other civil society groups welcomed the report and urged the European Commission to follow its recommendations.

On 5 March 2014, the European Commission announced a proposal "setting up an EU system of self-certification for importers of tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold."  The draft regulation is available here.  The proposal was met with criticisms from civil society and others - see commentaries & analysis below.


Commentaries & media coverage

Below are selected commentaries and media coverage of the European Commission proposal (5 Mar) and European Parliament report (19 Feb):

"IPIS Insights: The EU draft law on conflict minerals due diligence: a critical assessment from a business & human rights standpoint", Anna Bulzomi, IPIS Research, 30 Apr 2014

"Conflict minerals: new EU rules simpler alternative to US regulation",  Ian Weekes, Crowe Clark Whitehill, 26 Mar 2014

"Europe Goes Soft on Conflict Minerals, Making Human Rights Optional", Michelle Chen, Nation (USA), 21 Mar 2014

"Why Europe's 'opt in' rules on conflict minerals will fail to spark change", Nick Murry, Guardian Sustainable Business blog, 13 Mar 2014

"The EU’s Drastically Different Conflict Minerals Approach: Targeting Smelters", Lisa Reisman, MetalMiner, 12 Mar 2014

"Activists criticise EU 'blood metals' initiative", AFP, 5 Mar 2014

"Metals and minerals proposal causes conflict", Andrew Gardner, European Voice (Belgium), 5 Mar 2014

"Proposed EU law will not keep conflict resources out of Europe, campaigners warn", Amnesty Intl., Global Witness, CCFD Terre-Solidaire, Christian Aid, SOMO & other NGOs, 5 Mar 2014

"EU proposes scheme to certify mineral imports blood-free", Robin Emmot, Reuters, 5 Mar 2014,

"European Commission: Make Reporting on Conflict Minerals Mandatory", Lotte Leicht, Human Rights Watch, 4 Mar 2014

"[Letter to European Commission President Barroso] Re: The EU Proposal on Conflict Minerals Due Diligence", John Ruggie, Chair of Shift, former UN Special Representative on business & human rights, 4 Mar 2014

"EU drafts conflict minerals law, with opt-in clause", EurActiv (Belgium), 4 Mar 2014

"The EU must seize the opportunity to keep conflict minerals out of Europe", Patrick Alley, Global Witness, on EurActiv (Belgium), 27 Feb 2014

"EU Commission should heed parliament’s call for strong EU regulation on conflict resources, campaigners say", Global Witness & other NGOs, 27 Feb 2014

Français:

"La Commission réduit la voilure du projet de loi sur les conflits miniers", EurActiv (Belgique), 5 mars 2014

"La proposition législative européenne ne permettra pas de bannir d’Europe les ressources naturelles qui alimentent les conflits, avertissent les ONG", Global Witness, 4 mars 2014

Español:

"Minerales de conflicto: Europa pierde una oportunidad", Grupo de electrónica ética de Ingeniería Sin Fronteras, 5 marzo 2014


Company reactions

Intel: "European Commission Joins Conflict Free* Mission", Christian Morales, Intel Vice President and General Manager of Intel EMEA, 5 Mar 2014

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