Today the Council, Commission and European Parliament’s negotiators reached a final agreement on rules to exclude so-called 'conflict minerals' or 'blood minerals' from the European Union market.
It has been a long fight for the Socialists and Democrats to achieve a regulation which will significantly clean up the supply of tantalum, tungsten, tin and gold (also known as '3TG') into the EU. These are minerals and metals vital for the production of everyday items such as mobile phones and household appliances. The Commission, the Council and the conservatives in the European Parliament were pushing for a voluntary system, but the S&Ds led the charge to overturn this, setting a new global standard in responsible sourcing.
The Commission will now also work on voluntary rules for importers of manufactured goods.
The president of the S&D Group, Gianni Pittella MEP, commented:
“It was a long, complicated and often solitary fight, but we made it. Despite general widespread silence and indifference, thanks to our efforts and commitment, we made sure that products sold in the EU do not fuel armed militias or foster human-rights violations in conflict areas.
“Through the tough negotiations and with the support of European civil society and public opinion, the S&D Group ensured that the vast majority of minerals and metals imported in the EU will be covered by the regulation, cutting off a vital source of income for warlords, whilst not imposing additional burdens on EU small businesses. This is not only our victory; this is a victory for millions of men, women and children in Africa who have been waiting for this progressive, human and fair step.”
S&D spokesperson on conflict minerals, Marie Arena MEP, said:
"We may have won this battle but there is still a long way to go to fully clean up global supply chains. If we look at where we were only two years ago – when the Commission and the member states wanted a watered-down voluntary system – what we have achieved today would have looked utopian.
“The work is not over. We will monitor the implementation efficiently to make sure it contributes to the goal of breaking the link between armed conflict and the trade in minerals, and to avoid potential circumventions of the regulation.
“And we, as a political group, will also push for further legislation in the coming years. As a result of pressure from our group we obtained a commitment from the Commission to implement voluntary due-diligence measures for downstream companies (those importing finished products) and to propose further legislative measures if there is no meaningful uptake."