European Parliament votes in favour of binding regulation on conflict minerals
On 20 May 2015, the European Parliament positioned itself in support of a mandatory due diligence scheme for downstream and upstream companies that sell tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold – in any form – in the EU. Now the Council, Parliament and the Commission are undertaking "trialogue" negotiations behind closed doors.
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Civil society coalition raises concerns about EU member states "watering down" conflict minerals regulation
"EU member states are watering down proposals that would help stop conflict minerals", 6 Apr 2016
High-level negotiations have gone behind closed doors in a trialogue process where the regulation is being watered down and rendered almost meaningless to those affected by this bloody trade. If Member States have their way, the EU rules would fall short of measures taken by the US, China and African countries, and undermine the internationally recognized standard of the OECD’s due diligence guidance...CIDSE, the international alliance of Catholic development organizations, regrets the outcomes of yesterday’s second trialogue meeting (the negotiations between the European Parliament, the European Commission and the 28 EU Member States that form the EU Council). The negotiations are falling well short of the demands expressed by many civil society organizations, as well as those of nearly 150 Bishops from around the world....EU government leaders must realize the impact of watering down the regulation voted by elected EU representatives in the parliament. Member States should not hide behind closed doors, but make their positions transparent and be ready to defend their choices publicly...Jan Tytgat, Director EU Government Affairs Benelux at Umicore, a business undertaking due diligence in its minerals recycling activities, stated that “A proposal that doesn’t refer to downstream can’t assure customers that phones don’t contain conflict gold. It cuts the problem in parts. Every week we receive questions from downstream customers on the conflict-free nature of our minerals.”...Yesterday, CIDSE joined the Stop Mad Mining network to hand over the petition "Tackling the trade in conflict minerals!" signed by almost 42.000 people, who demand an EU regulation with mandatory due diligence, which meets the OECD standards as a minimum....
- Related stories: European Parliament votes in favour of binding regulation on conflict minerals
- Related companies: Umicore
"Press release: No more conflict minerals- EU States need to approve a law that stops the suffering of many people", 15 Feb 2016
In May 2015, the European Parliament voted to require all European manufacturers and importers of…four minerals…to check their supply chains to make sure they don’t fuel conflicts…[T]he current Trialogue negotiations…have a moral obligation to stand strongly for an effective regulation…The vote in the European Parliament represented a great step forward…But these improvements are now at risk with European governments arguing for a voluntary scheme…According to the 2011 UN Guiding Principles on Business & Human Rights, businesses must act with due diligence. Due diligence…is most effective and workable as a shared responsibility by companies along the entire supply chain…Thanks to the 2010 U.S. Dodd Frank Act, the number of “clean” mines…is growing today. The costs of cleaning up the trade cannot simply be passed on mine workers…but should be covered by the companies…
In the policy briefing attached, CIDSE recommends that Member States revisit their positions and:
1. Show leadership on this issue by supporting mandatory due diligence requirements along the entire supply chain.
2. Support a Regulation that aligns with the OECD Due Diligence Guidance on Conflict Minerals, by:
- Ensuring that all due diligence obligations are consistent with the OECD standards
- Engaging companies downstream of metal importers, in particular companies that place products containing covered minerals on the EU market
- Including language that reflects the flexible and progressive nature of due diligence.
"Press release: a new video reveals what a clean mine could look like under a more comprehensive responsible sourcing requirement"
A new video, filmed at the Fungamwaka mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) reveals…an example of a "clean mine", where no rebel groups are present…and child labor is banned…[T]his example demonstrates how the sector could be cleaned up under effective regulation…[T]he Trialogue negotiations between the EP, the Council of the European Union and the European Commission…is an…opportunity…to secure the key achievement voted by the European Parliament in May 2015…Revenues from the clean mine are shared between entrepreneurs and workers…And yet mine workers still have to struggle to make a decent living, as the costs of cleaning up the trade have been passed on to them rather than being covered by the companies sourcing these minerals…EU governments in the Council agreed their initial negotiating position, supporting a voluntary sourcing scheme covering only part of the mineral supply chain: this is a clear backtrack…CIDSE recommends that Member States revisit their positions…
Author: Global Witness
"EU governments in danger of missing crucial opportunity to reduce global conflict", 1 Feb 2016
…Global Witness warns that the EU governments’ proposed conflict minerals law would have extremely limited impact and fall well below internationally agreed standards…The law…would fail to cover companies importing products that could contain conflict minerals and also drastically lowers the standard of due diligence expected from manufacturers and traders…“…EU leaders…[a]re failing to help change a trade which is driving conflict, corruption and instability around the world…”…said Emily Norton, Conflict Resources campaigner at Global Witness. “…[N]ot checking whether your supply chains are financing conflict or fuelling human rights abuses is unacceptable…” Documents seen by Global Witness show EU member states proposing a voluntary conflict minerals law which only covers companies importing raw forms of tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold and ignores those bringing products containing those same minerals, such as cars, laptops and mobile phones… The Council’s approach is directly at odds with the EU Parliament’s vote, in May 2015, for a compulsory due diligence law for the minerals sector that would cover both importers of raw minerals and products containing those minerals. The Parliament’s vote for a mandatory law echoed calls from almost 150 religious leaders, global investors, business leaders and companies, as well as over 150 international campaigning organisations.
Author: Amnesty Intl. & Global Witness
The European Parliament voted on 20 May for a strong and binding law to tackle the trade in conflict minerals. MEPs...supported a law that would legally require companies importing key minerals into Europe...to source responsibly...As they consider a response to the Parliament's proposal, Member States have a landmark opportunity to deliver on their obligation under international human rights law..., by ensuring their businesses source minerals responsibly. If the Council of the European Union matches the Parliament's commitment to responsible sourcing, the EU's Regulation could set a clear and progressive standard for companies, investors and consumers...Business leaders, investors, religious leaders, consumers, and civil society have all publicly supported strong, mandatory due diligence rules.
The decision by the European Parliament (EP) to reinforce legislation on "blood minerals"...is meeting with opposition within the European Union (EU), as well as the United States where its detractors are bringing into contention...the difficulties of enforcing such a policy...[N]o less than 40 percent of civil wars in the past sixty years are linked to the control of natural resources. The phenomenon is particularly pronounced on the African continent, which holds 30 percent of global mineral resources...Despite the vote by the EP...the battle over conflict minerals is far from being won by the European left...[T]he voices who speak out to denounce the "perverse effects" of restrictive legislation are also numerous...Lobbyists such as Eurometaux, Digitaleurope, the American Chamber of Commerce of the EU...or Business Europe - will not miss the chance to apply pressure in order to modify the regulation during its examination by the European Commission and the EU Council...
Author: EurActiv, in Guardian (UK)
European gold, tantalum..., tungsten and tin imports from conflict zones will be subjected to tougher surveillance procedures under a new regulation adopted by the European parliament...But the regulation still has a long road to travel. The bill's slim majority in the European parliament pushed MEPs to opt for quick negotiations with the other institutions (the council and commission) before making their formal decision during the first reading. This is a very unusual procedure...The path travelled by the conflict minerals bill has already been a rocky one, beset by pressure from big business lobbies. The French business group Medef contacted MEPs before this week's plenary session to warn them of the potentially costly consequences of a binding system that covers the whole supply chain.
Amnesty Intl. & Global Witness applaud European Parliament for defying lobbying in vote for strong conflict minerals regulation
Author: Amnesty Intl. & Global Witness
Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have made history today by voting in favour of a strong and binding law to tackle the deadly trade in conflict minerals, said Amnesty International and Global Witness.Today’s vote determines the position with which the European Parliament (EP) enters into negotiations with Member States and the Commission to find an agreement on the law.
“This is a historic moment. MEPs have voted for a law that should make a real difference to the lives of those suffering under the trade in conflict minerals”, said Michael Gibb of Global Witness “Despite concerted efforts by big business to weaken the legislation, MEPs have clearly positioned themselves for a strong, binding law that is fit for purpose...“The European Parliament has sent a clear signal. European firms cannot turn a blind eye to the risk their operations contribute to human rights abuses abroad,” said Lucy Graham, legal advisor in Amnesty International’s Business and Human Rights team. “If the European Council follows suit, this law would represent a sea change in what is expected of companies when the minerals in their products come from countries riven by conflict.”
European Parliament goes beyond Commission's proposals & votes for binding regulation for conflict minerals for "all Union importers"
Author: European Parliament News
"Conflict minerals: MEPs ask for mandatory certification of EU importers"
Parliament voted by 400 votes to 285, with 7 abstentions, to overturn the Commission's proposal as well as the one adopted by the international trade committee and requested mandatory compliance for "all Union importers" sourcing in conflict areas. In addition, "downstream" companies, that is, the 880 000 potentially affected EU firms that use tin, tungsten, tantalum and gold in manufacturing consumer products, will be obliged to provide information on the steps they take to identify and address risks in their supply chains for the minerals and metals concerned...The regulation applies to all conflict-affected high risk areas in the world, of which the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Great Lakes area are the most obvious example...In a vote of 343 votes to 331, with 9 abstentions, Parliament decided not to close the first reading position and to enter into informal talks with the EU member states to seek agreement on the final version of the law.
Author: Letter by advocates, in Guardian (UK)
On 20 May, the European parliament will vote on a proposed regulation to tackle the trade in conflict minerals....We are gravely concerned that the regulation proposed by the European Commission does not envision any real change. It makes it merely optional for importers to source these minerals responsibly. The proposed voluntary scheme would cover just 0.05% of companies using these minerals within the EU. No companies would be legally obliged to check whether they are complicit in financing conflict or human rights abuses...
Members of the European parliament have an opportunity to help break the links between the minerals trade, conflict and human rights abuses...We urge them to ensure that, in line with its fundamental principles, the European parliament demands additional binding rules that put respect for human rights above narrow economic interests.
Dr Denis Mukwege
Founder and medical director, Panzi hospital, Bukavu, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Nicolas Van Nuffel
President, European Network for Central Africa (EurAc)
Director of policy, Christian Aid
Acting director and director of programmes, Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office
Co-founder and director, Global Witness
Director, Walk Free Movement
President, International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
Director, International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR)
Secretary general, International Alliance of Catholic Development Agencies (CIDSE)
Secretary General of Pax Christi International
Executive director, Avocats Sans Frontières (ASF)
Luis Enrique Eguren
Executive director, Protection International (PI)
President, Coordination of Popular Initiatives of International Solidarity (CIPSI)
Coordinator, the European Coalition for Corporate Justice (ECCJ)
José Ignacio Garcia SJ
Director, the Jesuit European Social Center (JESC)
Head of Africa Department, CCFD-Terre Solidaire
Secretary General, Secours Catholique/Caritas France