By Amy Leisinger, J.D.
By a 558-17 vote, the European Parliament approved a proposal to stop trade in conflict minerals to ensure that European industries source minerals responsibly. According to the European Commission, the changes will stop financing of armed groups in developing countries and curb human rights abuses through trade in conflict areas.
“I'm very glad we now have an ambitious, workable solution to eliminate conflict minerals from supply chains,” said Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström after the vote.
“We cannot turn a blind eye to the harm we cause in other parts of the world,” added Parliament International Trade Committee Chair Bernd Lange.
The regulation will require all but the smallest importers of tin, tungsten, tantalum, gold and their ores to do “due diligence” checks on suppliers to ensure responsible sourcing of the materials. Large manufacturers will also need to disclose the methods by which they will monitor resources. The regulation requires responsible sourcing in connection with the extraction and refining of minerals used by importers and manufacturers and allows companies to be listed by the Commission as responsible importers by declaring in writing to authorities in their respective member states that they follow the obligations set forth in the regulation. Authorities in EU member states will be responsible for ensuring compliance and enforcing penalties, and the Commission will provide guidance for importers. Recycled metals, existing EU stocks, and by-products are also excluded from the regulation. The Commission will review and report on the effectiveness of the changes on an ongoing basis.
Concurrently, the EU will put in place measures to support small and medium-sized importers and reach out to other governments to encourage responsible sourcing and elimination of alternative conflict minerals markets. More than 95 percent of all EU imports of tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold will be covered by due diligence provisions by January 1, 2021.
The regulation is still subject to formal adoption by the Council.