On Thursday, December 4, 2014, the European Parliament’s Committee on International Trade held a hearing to discuss proposed legislation on conflict minerals. The hearing “Trade in Minerals Originating in Conflict-Affected and High Risk Areas,” was well attended, with most speakers supporting of a wider product scope than EU Commission’s (EC) proposed legislation which focuses on the importers of raw materials.
The majority of speakers also supported a compulsory mechanism instead of the proposed voluntary program. Both Global Witness and the Congolese were critical of the EC proposal, advocating for tougher and more coherent measures focused on addressing human rights abuses. Several of the Members of Parliament (MEPs) in attendance spoke out on the need for a mandatory program with a wider product scope that includes downstream companies that manufacture products containing conflict minerals. Signe Ratso from the EC DG Trade explained why the EC proposal does not target downstream users, but suggested that the EU could consider taking steps to ensure that all companies in the supply chain using products containing minerals from conflict areas report on their due diligence. Industry representative on the panel advocated in favor of a voluntarily mechanism and highlighted the efforts undertaken by Eurometaux, IPC and other associations.
The hearing began with opening remarks from Bernd Lange, Chair of the Committee on International Trade and Iuliu Winkler, Rapporteur, along with two panels of witnesses. The first panel, which focused on discussing the EU Commission’s proposal within current international regulatory context, featured Tyler Gillard – Legal Adviser, OECD Investment Division, previously leading OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict Areas; Descartes Mponge Malasi – President of South Kivu civil society and of NGO ACADHOSHA; and Remy Kasindi – President and Research Director of Centre de Recherches et d’Etudes Strategiques en Afrique Centrale (CRESA), Bukavu, Congo. The second panel focused on implementation by business and the impact on the ground included testimony from Guy Thiran – Director-General of Eurometaux; Julian Lageard, Member of the Conflict Minerals issue group, DigitalEurope; and Michael Gibb – Campaign Leader for Conflict Resources, Global Witness.