Following the talks between the EU Council, Commission and Parliament, the European Union agreed yesterday (16 June) to put an end to the financing of various armed groups through trade in conflict minerals. The proposed agreement urges EU companies involved in the trade of tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold – minerals typically used for manufacturing of everyday products such as mobile phones or cars – to source the minerals responsibly. Under the proposal, all EU firms importing these minerals will have to scrutinize their list of suppliers. The exception will only be given to the smallest companies and this “due diligence” will be also compulsory for refiners and smelters.
On behalf of the Dutch EU presidency, Trade Minister Lilianne Ploumen stressed that “The EU is committed to preventing international trade in minerals from financing warlords, criminals and the human rights abusers.” The Parliament’s Trade Committee Chair Bernd Lange added that the EU needs to “end the suffering of people being forced to mine precious metals and do our utmost to prevent violent conflicts”. The new framework formulates clear obligations for the critical “upstream” part of the conflict minerals supply chain, including smelters and refiners to source minerals responsibly.
Moreover, the Commission will also come up with a few other measures, such as the development of reporting tools to carry out the “due diligence”. The technical details of the deal are to be formulated. The EU regulation regarding conflict minerals applies to all conflict-affected and high-risk zones in the world, with a special focus on the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Great Lakes area. The Commission will also appoint experts via tender to come up with an indicative list of problematic areas.