Trade is not a licence to kill, say Gianni Pittella, Marie Arena and David Martin

A law to exclude conflict minerals from the European Union market is currently being negotiated between the European Parliament, the Commission and the 28 national governments represented in the EU Council (the so-called trilogue negotiations). The Socialists and Democrats lead the struggle for a mandatory system.

Today, at the first meeting with the Council, the European Parliament negotiator, S&D MEP Marie Arena, pushed for a regulation but faced strong opposition from the Council, who reject a mandatory law and favour a voluntary system.

The leader of the S&D Group in the European Parliament, Gianni Pittella, said:

"The extraction and trade of minerals from conflict regions is fuelling wars and causing unspeakable suffering in many regions in the world. I have seen its dramatic consequences in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

"As socialist and democrats we were decisive in influencing the position of the Parliament: we don't want to be accomplices to a humanitarian disaster in the name of commercial interests.

"We call on all member states to have a responsible approach to this issue and to demonstrate that human dignity will always come before profits."

The European Parliament negotiator and S&D MEP, Marie Arena, said:

"The position of the European Parliament is clear. We want fair and responsible trade. This is why we defend a mandatory regulation that will be applied not only to raw materials, but also to manufactured products which we consume in Europe.

"But the Council is still very far from our position on this matter, because it proposes a voluntary system, only applicable to companies importing minerals and metals. This position even manages to fall short of what the Commission proposed. This means that such a regulation would only help Europe to feel good about itself as opposed to having any real impact on the ground or changing the behaviour of companies.

"If the Council does not move their line on these two aspects, for us, this trilogue will not be able to deliver."

S&D spokesperson on international trade, David Martin MEP, said:

"We have an opportunity with this draft law to correct the mistakes of the past and introduce an effective mandatory system which will make a real difference on the ground.

"We know voluntary schemes have not worked and we urge national governments to take their responsibilities seriously and put into practice the EU's commitment to conflict-free minerals."

To know more about S&D campaign against conflict minerals see here.