Strasbourg (22 November) - The Presidency of the Council and the European Parliament reached an informal deal on a regulation to stop the financing of armed groups through trade in conflict minerals. This regulation aims to encourage EU i companies to source tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold responsibly. These minerals are widely used in everyday products including mobile phones, cars and jewellery.
"Today proves our determination to strengthen our efforts to prevent armed groups around the world from using trade in minerals to finance their activities and propagate conflict. This regulation will put into practice the EU's commitments to this effect."
"Today proves our determination to strengthen our efforts to prevent armed groups around the world from using trade in minerals to finance their activities and propagate conflict", said Peter Žiga, Slovak Minister in charge of trade and President of the Council. "This regulation will put into practice the EU's commitments to this effect. At the same time, no additional red tape for European companies that trade respecting the rules, while EU citizens can be assured that their purchases do not affect human rights in conflict-ridden countries."
The regulation carries clear obligations to source responsibly for the 'upstream' part of the production process, which involves the extraction and refining of these minerals. The vast majority of metals and minerals imported to the EU will be covered, while small volume importers will be exempt from these obligations. The regulation also allows companies to become a responsible importer by declaring in writing to the competent authority in a member state that it follows the due diligence obligations set in the regulation. A list of these importers will be published by the Commission. The competent authorities will carry out checks to ensure that EU importers of minerals and metals comply with their due diligence obligations.
In addition, the Commission will carry out a number of other measures to improve due diligence by EU 'downstream' companies, which are those that use these minerals as components to produce goods. The Commission will also draft a handbook including non-binding guidelines to help companies, and especially SME's, with the identification of conflict-affected and high-risk areas.
For the Council, the agreement still has to be confirmed by member states. The Presidency is expected to present the agreed text for approval by member states' ambassadors on 7 December 2016.
The Council adopted its position for these negotiations in December 2015.