Conflict Minerals: we need an integrated EU approach

Breaking the link between mineral extraction and trade and the financing of armed conflicts is the aim of a European Parliament Report drafted by Iuliu Winkler MEP on self-certification of importers of minerals and metals originating in conflict-affected and high-risk areas. The European Parliament today voted to start an informal trilogue with its co-legislators without closing the 1st reading of the Report.

“The good news about today’s vote on the conflict minerals dossier is that it clearly proved that all political groups and a large majority of MEPs are determined to see a solution to the conflict minerals issue. Unfortunately, the divisions, which were already clear in the vote in the International Trade Committee, dominated the plenary vote. We are heading towards a complicated negotiation process. My aim as Rapporteur is to continue my work in finding the most efficient common position which can also be agreed by Member States in the Council and by the European Commission and which can bring tangible results for the local communities in the conflict areas”.

According to several amendments adopted today, mandatory due diligence obligations are extended to European companies along the entire supply chain of the 3TG minerals and metals. “The interests of people and communities caught in war and conflict cannot be served by a trade Regulation alone; we need an integrated EU approach. We need an effective and workable Regulation that involves the responsibility of all the stakeholders involved and is a strong pillar of our integrated response. We need capacity-building on the ground, we need to educate and make the stakeholders responsible, including those in industry in the EU and governments in the conflict areas”, stressed Winkler.

Winkler warned of the side effects of an insufficiently-prepared mandatory certification for the whole supply chain: “By supporting the voluntary approach, we want to avoid distortions and negative effects, for example a de facto embargo. Thus, mandatory certification could mean the killing of jobs on both sides: Europeans and people in the local communities affected in conflict areas.”

The EPP Group Spokesman in the International Trade Committee, Daniel Caspary MEP, outlined the need for a Regulation on conflict minerals which will quickly help local people: “We need a Regulation which can be put in place soon and helps the people in the relevant conflict regions. We must prevent jeopardising small mines because of unrealistic legislation and that the local people are then unintentionally pushed into unemployment, smuggling or illegal activities. The export of conflict-free minerals from these regions is of existential importance – a de facto export ban would worsen any development prospects for people in the regions.”