Agreement reached on conflict minerals, yet planned implementation is too slow for victims
The regulation on reporting obligations for imports of gold, tin, tantalum and tungsten from conflict regions will follow the successful conclusion of trialogue negotiations between the European Parliament, the EU Council and the EU Commission yesterday.
While the Commission and the Council had originally insisted on a voluntary system of self-certification for companies, after a two-year negotiating process the European Parliament negotiators from across the political groups – together with a great deal of effort by civil society organisations – have now succeeded in securing a legally binding system.
“After many years of parliamentary and extra-parliamentary work, we have finally created a due diligence obligation for supply chain management,” comments Helmut Scholz, GUE/NGL Coordinator on the International Trade Committee and member of the Parliament's negotiating delegation.
“There is still some homework to be done by the member states of the EU. They must establish structures and mechanisms that enable the new reporting system to function.
“Member states have asked to be given until January 1st 2021, to complete this task. I am saddened by this situation, in which the suffering of victims of violence in ongoing conflicts, as well as of the 40,000 children who are forced to work for the warlords in the Congolese mines, will be prolonged due to slow administration in Europe.
“We therefore urge all companies to realise that the law has been agreed and that it is socially responsible to begin implementing their coming due diligence obligations immediately,” Scholz urges.
“A threshold for import volumes has been set by the Council, below which companies do not have any reporting requirements. For gold, the limit is 100kg per year.
“I am aware that we had to compromise. However, we have been able to achieve a binding declaration by Commissioner Malmström that after three years of the regulation being in force, the Commission will review the effectiveness of the regulation regarding the prevention of arms trade and violence in conflict regions, and in particular with regard to the special circumstances surrounding gold trade, while taking into consideration also the situation of small and micro sized companies that import gold into the EU.
“Currently, the scope of the regulation covers the raw materials from conflict areas that need to be addressed most urgently: gold, tin, tantalum and tungsten. In the coming years, I will work together with my colleagues in GUE/NGL to extend this approach to further raw materials and the new global production chains.
“This regulation provides a positive example for how making rules wisely can make trading fairer. This is an example of our alternative approach to tearing down protective regulations through free trade agreements like TTIP,” Scholz concludes.
GUE/NGL Press Contact:
Nikki Sullings +33 3881 76723 / +32 483 03 55 75
Gay Kavanagh +32 473 84 23 20