GUE/NGL Coordinator on the European Parliament's International Trade Committee, Helmut Scholz, outlined the problem:
“Warlords lead armed gangs to gain or defend control over areas with raw materials and mines. People are being murdered for access to gold, tin, coltan and tungsten. The raw materials are turned into cash, cash is used to buy weapons, more weapons equip more fighters and whoever has more fighters has more power. Whoever has more power can control a larger area and steal more raw materials and gain more wealth. So, it is often an endless spiral of war.”
“This business model only works because unscrupulous companies – including some in Europe – buy the commodities from the warlords.
“With this new European law we are therefore drawing a line before them. For the first time companies will be legally required to apply due diligence to the supply chains of their raw materials. Companies at the beginning of the supply chain – the smelters and refiners – will have to prove the origin of their raw materials.
While remaining positive about the legislation overall, Scholz expressed disappointment over the timeframe for implementation: “Unfortunately this will only begin three years from now. How many victims will there be between now and then?”
He called on the Commission to “push for the rapid introduction of supply chain control, front-load the accompanying measures and come up with innovative ideas going beyond the projects already underway.”
Italian MEP, Eleonora Forenza, was also positive about the regulation, yet raised the need for further action:
“The regulation doesn’t cover all the conflict minerals. It establishes minimum quantities of imports for which reporting is required, but below this threshold there are no requirements for traceability.”
“In addition, only the importers of the raw materials – not the producers of the final products which contain these minerals – will be bound by traceability, so this is just a first step.”
“We still have a lot to do. I believe that the Commission must monitor the implementation of this regulation very closely.”
Spanish MEP, Lola Sánchez Caldentey, was more critical:
“In 2014, the Commission published a weak legislative proposal on the blood minerals trade and exploitation. One year later, the Parliament took a clear position reflecting the voices of the citizens and civil society organisations that were calling for a robust and binding law to oversee the whole supply chain, from the mines to our hand-held devices.”
“After two years of negotiations with member states, the outcome is a watered-down piece of legislation. It only goes half way and does not put an end to the root causes of the problem. It is merely a band-aid to ease the consciences of those who are satisfied with minimal action.”
“We voted in favour because this step is better than nothing, but we will be back for more. We will be back on behalf of those who are suffering in silence far from here. Just think of them every time you look at your phones,” she concluded.
GUE/NGL Press Contact:
Nikki Sullings +33 3881 76723 / +32 483 03 55 75