European Commission announces EU self-certification system for importers of "conflict minerals"
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Author: European Commission
High Representative (HR) of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton and EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht today proposed an integrated EU approach to stop profits from trading minerals being used to fund armed conflicts...The Commission proposes a draft Regulation setting up an EU system of self-certification for importers of tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold who choose to import responsibly into the Union. Self-certification requires EU importers of these metals and their ores to exercise 'due diligence' – i.e. to avoid causing harm on the ground – by monitoring and administering their purchases and sales in line with the five steps of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Due Diligence Guidance...To increase public accountability of smelters and refiners, enhance supply chain transparency and facilitate responsible mineral sourcing, the EU aims to publish an annual list of EU and global 'responsible smelters and refiners'...Today’s initiative also proposes a number of incentives supporting the Regulation to encourage supply chain due diligence by EU companies...
Author: EurActiv (Belgique)
Le projet de loi de la Commission ne prévoit aucune sanction à l’encontre des sociétés européennes qui ne donnent pas l'origine des minerais qu’elles exploitent dans leur production, au grand dam des défenseurs des droits de l'Homme...L’exécutif européen devrait mettre en place une stratégie en vue de responsabiliser les importateurs grâce à la mise en place du principe « d'obligation de vigilance »…Sauf décision contraire de dernière minute, la nouvelle loi qui devrait être dévoilée le 5 mars prochain concernera seulement les sociétés qui se chargent de commercialiser les matières premières, c'est-à-dire une vingtaine de fonderies européennes, et non les importateurs de produits manufacturés, tels que les sociétés de téléphonie mobile...Un porte-parole de l'ONG CCFD Terre Solidaire a indiqué…« Avec ce projet, la Commission prouve qu'elle prête plus d'attention aux intérêts des groupes de pression et moins aux peuples du monde entier qui souffrent à cause des conflits sur les ressources. » [Fait référence à Apple, Philips, Siemens]
Author: Amnesty Intl., Global Witness, CCFD Terre-Solidaire, Christian Aid, SOMO & other NGOs
A law proposed by the European Commission on responsible sourcing of minerals is not strong enough to prevent European companies’ mineral purchases from financing conflict or human rights abuses, and falls far short of expectations, campaigners said today...[T]he Commission today announced voluntary measures that will only apply to companies importing processed and unprocessed minerals into the European market...Without a clear EU law that requires companies to do due diligence – and report publicly on it – the European Commission will fail to bring EU companies up to the same responsible sourcing standards as their American competitors...To ensure that natural resources from conflict or high-risk areas don’t enter EU markets, the law also needs to target manufacturers, and companies that import finished products. Metals from conflict areas routinely enter the EU in manufactured products like computers, phones, light bulbs and cars...The European Parliament and Council will take up the proposal later this year. At that time, parliamentarians and Member States must make it a priority to strengthen the legislation so that it is fit for purpose.
Author: EurActiv (Belgium)
European firms are set to be offered a voluntary self-certification scheme to prove that their products’ mineral components were not sold by warlords to fuel bloody conflicts, under a draft EU law that falls short of campaigners’ expectations...The proposed regulation, seen by EurActiv, would set up a "responsible importer" scheme for firms exercising 'due diligence' over commodity supply chains, offering incentives ranging from EU public procurement contracts to funding possibilities for SMEs...Unless there is an eleventh hour intervention from the EU hierarchy, the scheme to be announced on 5 March will only apply to companies placing raw materials on the market - such as Europe’s 20 or so smelters - and not importers of products such as mobile phones, which may already have had the materials installed...A spokesman for the French development NGO CCFD Terre Solidaire told EurActiv: "With this proposal, the commission shows that it pays more attention to business lobbyists and less to people around the world who suffer because of resource-funded conflicts." [Refers to Apple, Philipps, Siemens]
Author: Lotte Leicht, Human Rights Watch
We are writing ahead of the College of Commissioners’ meeting tomorrow to urge you to ensure that the Commission’s legislative proposal on responsible sourcing of minerals includes a mandatory obligation for companies to undertake supply chain due diligence—that is, measures that companies must undertake to identify, prevent, mitigate, and account for human rights abuses in their supply chains...It is our view that the proposal must include a clear mandatory supply chain due diligence requirement for companies that place unprocessed or processed tin, tantalum, tungsten or gold, or manufactured products containing these minerals, on the European market...A European legislative framework that makes doing OECD-standard due diligence mandatory would bring EU companies up to the same responsible sourcing standard...[as the US]...Mandatory standards are needed because they are the only way of ensuring real, systematic change...Introducing a voluntary EU scheme would not only be redundant, it would also risk undermining the duty to protect human rights, which is well-established under international law...The Commission must take urgent action and ensure that the proposal is passed immediately and in its strongest form, based on a clear mandatory due diligence obligation.
Author: John Ruggie, Chair of Shift, former UN Special Representative on business & human rights
The Guiding Principles...make clear that those companies “whose operations or operating contexts pose risks of severe human rights impacts should report formally on how they address them”. Where minerals or metals mined in conflict situations through forced labor, child labor and similarly abusive practices may be part of a company’s value chain, this naturally becomes a relevant issue for formal reporting...My concern is therefore that the legislative proposal before the Commission may view such reporting as merely optional...a move to make reporting entirely optional risks leaving the most responsible companies exposed while those least attentive to their human rights responsibilities continue their current practices undeterred. It is surely through requiring the same reporting standards across companies that the Commission can help drive improvements where they are most needed and advance corporate respect for human rights in practice. I respectfully hope the Commission will take this into account in its deliberation.
Author: Patrick Alley, Global Witness, on EurActiv (Belgium)
If the European Commission wants to help cool the 40% of inter-state conflicts linked to natural resources, it needs to propose legislation ensuring that European consumers can buy conflict-free goods, says Patrick Alley [founding Director of Global Witness.]...At the beginning of last year the European Commission announced its intention to bring in regulations that would ensure responsible sourcing by European companies of minerals from conflict-affected states like Congo, Afghanistan, Colombia and Burma. This proposal, which was delayed, is now due out on March 6...Global Witness is urging the Commission to pass legislation, similar to that already adopted in the US, which would give European consumers much more certainty that the products they were buying were conflict-free. We think they should make it compulsory for any company first placing any natural resources - or products containing them – on the EU market to check down their supply chain and ensure that they were not indirectly fuelling conflict...Anything less than mandatory due diligence will mean they fall short.