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Drying up warlords’ funding sources: Parliament and Council agree on key points in conflict minerals

In many parts of the world, warlords finance their weapons by trading commodities. And those who buy the commodities are too often companies from Europe.

GUE/NGL Coordinator on the European Parliament's International Trade Committee, Helmut Scholz, explains: “For years, we have been committed to ensuring that this business of death is prevented. Now we have achieved a political breakthrough.”

“On June 15, our negotiating delegation from the European Parliament, in which I represent GUE/NGL, has agreed with the Council on a joint written political understanding, which paves the way for a European law against trade in conflict resources.”

Expressing his satisfaction with the agreement, Scholz continues: “In Parliament, we had already gained a majority, but this was followed by several months of negotiations with the member state governments represented in the Council, who initially wanted only a voluntary self-certification system for companies.”

Now there is agreement: it will be mandatory for companies to control their procurement channels and ensure that they have not acquired any conflict minerals.

The procedure for this is described in the 'OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas'.

This applies to gold, tin and tungsten (which is important for smartphones).

The obligation applies to all companies at the upper end of the supply chain, like smelters and refiners, as well as importers of minerals and metals.

The Commission will also extend the reporting requirements for large publicly-listed companies, accordingly.

After four years, the Commission will also review whether the scope of the regulation shall be extended to cover more raw materials and companies.

In addition, smaller companies will be able to participate immediately on a voluntary basis.

In the coming weeks, the political agreement will be transposed at the technical level into the legal text of the regulation.

“We really have the opportunity to pass a law that improves the situation on the ground for the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo and other conflict regions of the world,” Scholz declares with optimism.

“Our generation is charged with the task of ensuring fair working and living conditions for all workers along the modern global value chains.

“We are committed to ensuring that consumers in our European Union can be more confident that their products – including smartphones, computers and cars – have been produced by people who are paid decent wages under sustainable environmental conditions, and of course, without crime being involved.

“Towards this goal, we have now taken another important step,” he concludes.

 

GUE/NGL Press Contact:

Nikki Sullings  +32 22 83 27 60 / +32 483 03 55 75

Gay Kavanagh +32 473 84 23 20