The European Parliament approved last Thursday a EU draft law, which provides for mandatory due diligence evaluation of companies trading in certain minerals imported from conflict zones or high risk areas.
Starting from January 1, 2021, the new rules will require all EU-based companies, with the exception of the smallest importers, to evaluate the compliance of their suppliers delivering such products, as tin, tungsten, tantalum and gold, which, in particular, are used to manufacture computers, mobile phones and jewelry. The evaluation will be mandatory for importers from "the conflict zones and high risk areas".
According to the statement released by the European Commission, the rules will cover up to 95% of imports as of 1 January 2021. In the meantime, the Commission and Member States will work to make sure that the necessary structures are in place to ensure EU-wide implementation.
Together with the new rules, the EU will be putting in place accompanying measures to support small and medium-sized importers, and development aid to ensure the Regulation is effective and has a positive impact on the ground, the EC statement said. The EU has also been reaching out to governments in Africa, Asia and beyond to encourage them to source responsibly and eliminate alternative markets for conflict minerals.
"I'm very glad we now have an ambitious, workable solution to eliminate conflict minerals from supply chains," said Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström after the vote. "Trade needs to take account of our values and the Parliament's decision today is a great example of how this can be achieved. The new rules will ensure that minerals used by European industries are sourced responsibly, in a way that does not harm populations in mining regions and does not fuel war. The new Regulation will reduce the hardship and human rights abuses that have for too long accompanied this trade. Transparent and responsible supply chains mean revenues will not go into the hands of rebel groups, but to investment in schools and hospitals, supporting a well-governed state underpinned by the rule of law. It means improving people's lives, from conflict and terror to opportunity and hope. It means encouraging the economic growth that helps the poorest regions grow sustainably."
The new regulation is yet to be approved by the EU Council. It will come into force after publication in the EU Official journal.
Alex Shishlo, Editor of the Rough&Polished European Bureau in Brussels